EXPIRED: 04/26/10 – Leslie Buck, 87, will be remembered for 6 very simple words that shouldn’t be taken lightly: “We Are Happy To Serve You.” If you’re a New Yorker – before Starbucks, before Dunkin’ Donuts – when a cuppa’ joe was a cuppa’ joe, you got your morning fix in a simple blue & white paper cup regardless of where you bought it.
That cardboard cup – Grecian in design – was about as New York as you could get. And Buck designed it.
He was born Laszlo Büch, a Jew, in the Khust region, an area that is today part of the Ukraine, but was then firmly planted in Czechoslovakia. His family was destroyed by German Nazis during World War II. Buck and his brother were sent Auschwitz. They were tortured, but survived. And like many Jews they landed in NY and changed their names to sound more – American.
Eventually they started a business – Premier Cup, a paper-cup manufacturer in Mount Vernon, N.Y. It was sold to the Sherri Cup Company in Kensington, Connecticut, and Buck became involved in sales and marketing.
He figured that with all the Greek diners in the area, a way to sell more paper cups to them was to make a paper cup that appealed more to the Greeks. So even though he wasn’t an artist he took out some markers and started to sketch.
It was classically Greek, blue and white, with a pair of amphora vases on either side. And he put 3 golden coffee cups in the back with those six special words. And it sold like the best cup of coffee in town.
Alas – Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have put a lot of Greek Diners out of business. And pushcarts get their coffee cups for free with logos of banks and movie promotions. So today, the iconic Anthora coffee cup is no longer in production – unless it’s a knock-off.
And in New York – that’s highly likely.