Styrofoam Pop Cups in Seattle
May 13, 2007 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Are there any gas stations or fast food places in [North, preferably] Seattle that sell fountain pop in Styrofoam (polystyrene) cups?

I've found that pop out of styrofoam cups tastes tons better than from paper or plastic [MeTa]. Anyone know of any places in Seattle where I can get pop this way?

Bonus points for:
>> North Seattle, particularly the U-District, Maple Leaf, Northgate-ish area. But I'm honestly willing to travel a little bit. Just not to, you know, Burien.
>> Cups of size 32 oz.+
>> Coke as opposed to Pepsi products.

Sorry that this is such an inane question. But I've been thinking about it for a while.
posted by rossination to Food & Drink (20 answers total)
Best answer: Why not buy your own styrofoam cups and take them in? They might think you're quirky but surely you can find a place that'll let you fill your own cups for the same price as a similarly sized cup of theirs.
posted by 6550 at 1:22 PM on May 13, 2007

I can't imagine why Coke in styrofoam would taste better than Coke in paper/plastic. Different soda fountains can taste differently (syrup:water ratios, quality of water, etc.), so this could be the issue.

Have you tried an at-home experiment? Divide one can over the three cups, and do a blind taste test; report back here.
posted by stance at 1:51 PM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: Stance - you could be right about the taste; I could be loony. I think what I like about the styrofoam is the fact that it insulates better, and keeps the drink nice and cold. Yes, I could get one of those fancy plastic reusable cups from 7/11 - but it's just not the same.
posted by rossination at 2:08 PM on May 13, 2007

Sonic is a major fast-food chain that extensively uses styrofoam cups; it looks like there is one in Seattle: (locator).

Personally I do agree with the OP that drinks in styrofoam tastes much better, even though it's bad for the environment; the ice melts slower resulting in less watery drinks, and paper does seem to leach a waxy taste into the drink.
posted by rolypolyman at 2:36 PM on May 13, 2007

Though I'm currently drinking out of my insulated 16 oz coffee mug that accompanies me everywhere, there have been some interesting studies that indicate that you need to reuse a ceramic cup 1006 times to reach the "break-even" point with a styrofoam cup (vis a vie energy use to produce and clean said ceramic cup).
posted by arnicae at 3:17 PM on May 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

rolypolyman, Sonic's locator says there are none within 50 miles of Seattle. The nearest is in Hillsboro, OR.
posted by litlnemo at 3:35 PM on May 13, 2007

Oh, if ONLY there were a Sonic in Seattle!
posted by GaelFC at 3:57 PM on May 13, 2007

OK, sorry for the false alarm... I saw the star on the map and thought it had identified a store.
posted by rolypolyman at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the info so far. As a environmentally-concious Diet Coke drinker, I too am wracked with guilt over the styrofoam thing, and I know that it's not great for the environment. But I'm willing to compromise for the sake of great taste/great insulation. That makes me as bad as a Republican, doesn't it? (joke). Maybe there are such things as "polystyrene offsets" that one could purchase.

Anyway, I'm obviously really looking for specific locations. If you know of any, keep 'em coming.

(And 6550, that's a great suggestion, given that I already shop at the restaurant supply store for a lot of my groceries. I will definitely investigate that option if my others fall through).
posted by rossination at 4:08 PM on May 13, 2007

FWIW, I've had better luck at off-brand gas station convenient stores.
posted by mullacc at 4:34 PM on May 13, 2007

I have no actual places to offer. I just absolutely agree that for some reason fountain soda seems to taste better in Styrofoam. I wonder why?
posted by MayNicholas at 4:39 PM on May 13, 2007

Does the Burger Hut?

Best friend lived in the U District and took me there a couple years ago; it seems plausible to my recollection.
posted by coolhappysteve at 4:45 PM on May 13, 2007

Taco Bell uses polystyrene cups for any of their larger sizes.
posted by fvox13 at 6:23 PM on May 13, 2007

plenty of restaurants use Styrofoam cups for to go drinks.
posted by travis08 at 8:22 PM on May 13, 2007

Best answer: I agree it does taste better in styrofoam.

Just grind up some styrofoam into an extremely fine powder and keep it in a plastic baggie in your glove compartment. Drop a pinch of styrofoam powder into your pop, you will get the same effect.

Also, don't do what I just said.
posted by parallax7d at 9:13 PM on May 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

arnicae: "....there have been some interesting studies that indicate that you need to reuse a ceramic cup 1006 times to reach the "break-even" point with a styrofoam cup (vis a vie energy use to produce and clean said ceramic cup)."

THat's pretty interesting, but I'm a bit dubious. First, I question the assumption about the washing energy required, especially given that most people don't run cups through a dishwasher every use. (Especially cups in an office). Also, this fails to account for the disposal "costs" of styrofoam.

Sorry for the derail, but I hate to see dubious science encouraging wholesale waste. Also, 1006 uses isn't altogether impossible, even if this were correct. Figure on a few drinks a day....
posted by JMOZ at 10:28 PM on May 13, 2007

Confirmation from said best friend that Burger Hut does have styrofoam cups on hand for milkshakes at least, so it looks like you might have yourself a winner if you ask for your soda in that cup. I can attest to the quality of their burgers. Yum!

[Google Map]
posted by coolhappysteve at 10:39 PM on May 13, 2007

Actually, pardon me again, but to expand on my previous comment, I just gave a little more thought to the energy usage claimed in arnicae's article: 0.18 MJ/cup-wash.

Looking online, it was hard to find a number for a dishwasher's energy usage, but I did find a number of 200 W without a dry cycle. Based on this number, if you wash a single mug for 10 minutes (with an otherwise EMPTY dishwasher), you get an energy usage of 0.12MJ. Even if you believe that this number is too low, you still find that that the parameters used by the study seem a bit outlandish. If you put 10 mugs in the dishwasher and don't use the dry cycle, you're an order of magnitude in the break-even point (to roughly 100 uses.)
posted by JMOZ at 10:48 PM on May 13, 2007

I recently ate at the U-Village Burgermaster on 45th Ave NE for the first time. They still serve their drinks in styrofoam cups and their food selection is pretty extensive, for a fast food place.

(It feels like the whole place has not changed much over the decades, which gives it a really interesting frozen-in-the-70's atmosphere.)
posted by origami at 6:18 PM on May 14, 2007

Response by poster: FOLLOWUP -- I ended up buying a stack of styrofoam cups at the restaurant supply store and have been using them for "refills" at about $.79/piece. And, since I feel guilty using styrofoam for something so frivolous, I've been reusing the same cup for about 2 weeks. So, anyone want some styrofoam cups? :)
posted by rossination at 2:33 PM on June 23, 2007

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