Aluminum Cup

I’m getting the feeling that for many household products, aluminum was the standard before plastic had its big breakthrough. These aluminum cups were popular in the 1940s and ’50s in the same settings where today plastic is the number one material of choice: barbecues, parties and picnics.

Bascal aluminum tumbler, 1950s.

Bascal aluminum tumbler from the 1950s.

The two main manufacturers of aluminum tumblers were Sunburst and the Italian company Bascal. The cups came in bright colors – purple, pink, red, blue, silver and a variety of other hues. The aluminum was anodized – a process that protects aluminum from oxidation, increases wear resistance, and promotes color retention. Still, these cups are not recommended for dishwashers, as their colors will fade faster than with hand washing.

Bascal aluminum tumbler

Bottom of a Bascal aluminum tumbler

With their humble size, these cups are a bit out-dated for today’s soda lovers. They hold a mere 11 oz of liquid. The current 7-11 Super Gulp measures a mammoth 64 fluid oz. Since last week’s article on aluminum ice cube trays, I’ve done a fair amount of additional research on the health concerns of aluminum. Just type in “aluminum health” or “aluminum kitchenware health” into Google, Yahoo, or one of the other search engines, and you’ll get thousands of results. The main objects of attack are deodorants, baking soda, cheap cheese (as used in cheeseburgers), and of course, cookware.

Bascal aluminum tumbler

Detail of a Bascal aluminum tumbler

The discussions are very emotional (which is understandable, considering a the possible consequence of Alzheimer’s), but are also unfortunately rarely based on scientific studies. It seems studies backing up either side are hard to come by, or don’t appear to exist at all. What a pickle. We actually have an article devoted to the discussion of health issues concerning aluminum. Since I now own both an aluminum ice cube tray and this green tumbler, I really wanted to know if they’re safe for my tequila gimlet at this year’s first cookout.

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