Stanley cups 411: Why are they so popular? The rise of the viral tumbler

Stanley Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler. Image: Stanley via PR Newswire

If you’ve been on the internet as of late, or spent time in-person with various women in your life, you’ve undoubtedly come across the Stanley cup. 

With the social push over the years to drink more water has come the mission to find the perfect vessel to tote around your H2O. You may remember the big jugs with the hourly reminder marks, for example.

But none have created admiration like "the Stanley", whose new colors and collaborations sell out within hours and draw crowds that clamor for a chance to buy one.

What are Stanley cups?

You may be surprised to learn that Stanley cups aren’t new to the market. 

In fact, Stanley is a brand that was founded in 1913 that has spent its years mostly marketing its products to workmen and as outdoorsy and adventure-y. 

The brand also offers a variety of other drinkware, camp cookware, and food storage containers. But the viral product we’re talking about is the $40 Stanley Quencher, which was more formally first introduced by the brand as the Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler. 

It holds 40 oz. of liquid, is dishwasher safe, made of recycled stainless steel, keeps liquids for hours at their desired temps, and has a handle, straw and tapered edge allowing it to fit in a cup holder – basically, everything you could ask for in a day cup. 

RELATED: Starbucks pink Stanley cups: Shoppers line up at Texas Targets at 3 a.m.

How did Stanley cups get so popular? 

If the brand has been around for more than a century, how is it just now getting to be so popular? 

The internet is the broad answer to that, but more specifically – influencers and a marketing pivot. 

Dating back to November 2017, The Buy Guide, a popular blog that recommends or suggests various consumer products, posted about the tumbler.

"Of all the insulated cups… this is the one. Just trust," the post says. 

The relationship between the women at The Buy Guide and Stanley grew over the years, as detailed in this New York Times article, – so much so, that when the women learned Stanley was going to stop stocking the cup, they bought 10,000 of them at wholesale cost to try selling on their own to a different market - women. 

It was a gamble, but they had no problem selling every last cup. 

In 2021, Stanley announced it was bringing back the Adventure Quencher to a waitlist that had grown to more than 30,000

"The 'Quencher,' as our fans call it, has gained tremendous word-of-mouth support over the past few years, selling out every time we re-stock. We're excited to bring it back in brand new colors this summer," Terence Reilly, global president of Stanley brand, said at the time in a press release.

The new colors signaled a big brand identity shift for the company. 


Stanley Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler. Image: Stanley via PR Newswire

"We just sat down with the executive team and were like, ‘You’re marketing this cup to the wrong people,’" Linley Hutchinson, one of the founders of The Buy Guide, told RetailDive when recalling their experience of working with the company. 

The Buy Guide's story was also recently featured in a video by CNBC’s Make It.

Stanley cup sales

The revival of the Adventure Quencher in 2021 was just the beginning. 

In 2022, Stanley rolled out a new version of the cup called the Quencher H2.0 FlowState. It features a reworked lid, a more comfortable handle, car cup-holder compatibility, different sizes and price points, and nine other new colors.

When announcing the updated version of the cup, Reilly called the Quencher "an internet sensation."

"The Quencher's fandom continues to surge, with a 275% increase in sales year over year, and current U.S. sales up 751% year to date. The Quencher also saw an all-time high waitlist this past year, with more than 150K consumers eager to get their hands on the coveted hydration must-have," the company’s press release said

This story was reported from Detroit.