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What are the red Solo cup lines for? Here’s the truth behind the myth

It's long been thought that the lines on a Solo cup were there to help measure alcohol content.
It's long been thought that the lines on a Solo cup were there to help measure alcohol content.

Red Solo cup, I fill you up — but to which line?

It’s long been thought that the lines on a Solo cup were there to help measure alcohol content — but Snopes has debunked that theory.

The belief was that the bottom line designates the amount of one shot (1 ounce), the middle line is a serving of wine (5 ounces), and the top line is for 12 ounces of beer.

Snopes noted that while those measurements do match up with some typical alcohol serving sizes, the placement of the lines on the cups wasn’t meant to act as a way to gauge serving sizes.

In fact, Solo revealed the true meaning of the lines in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website.

The truth is: “These lines mean something different for everyone!”

The site mentions that the answer to what the lines on the Solo cup mean is “one of the greatest mysteries of our time.”

The original 18 oz Solo cup, which launched in the 1970s, had lines that roughly equaled measurements of 1, 5 and 12 ounces.

It’s long been thought that the lines on a Solo cup were there to help measure alcohol content. Getty Images/iStockphoto
It’s long been thought that the lines on a Solo cup were there to help measure alcohol content. Getty Images/iStockphoto

“For some, it means a responsible pour at their next tailgate. For others, it means a more secure grip as they man the grill at the BBQ,” the site says. “And for our littler fans, it means they can stack and unstack our cups into a pyramid without them sticking together.”

Snopes previously reported that Dart Container Corporation, Solo’s parent company, said: “The lines on our Party Cups are designed for functional performance and are not measurement lines. If the lines do coincide with certain measurements, it is purely coincidental.”

In response to the rumor that the lines were for alcohol measurements, Dart jokingly put out a graphic of “The REAL Understanding of Lines on a SOLO Cup.”

In it, they suggested measurements for cereal servings, syrup for chocolate milk, and even mouthwash.

However, today’s version of the Solo cup has no lines.

“Whether it’s lines, grips, or a square base, one thing our cup always means is good times are on the horizon,” the FAQ concluded.