?Ah, summer — a time for videogames, superhero movies, and staying near an air conditioner at all costs. But what to do when our need for sustenance forces us outdoors? Eventually, we all have to brave the evil heat. And when we brave the heat, we need something to drink. And if we’re going to get something to drink, it might as well be in the nerdiest cup available.
Fast food collector cups have long been a fixture of cross-promotion; cheap to replicate and portable, they’re a marketing exec’s dream come true. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t be awesome at the same time. We love our collectible glasses (which you can read a Best Of list here), but these cheap, plastic equivalents can be just as nice. They’re usually larger and come with lids, giving the folks behind them more creative playroom.
In the interest of making sure everyone stays hydrated this season, we’ve compiled a few of our favorites. We hope they’ll aid you in your own swelter battle. Commence cool down!
10) The Simpsons, Pizza Hut
There has rarely been a better fast food team-up than Pizza Hut and The Simpsons. For proof, just ask the Australian kid spouting American slang in the otherwise pitch-perfect commercial, mate – er, man. While this set of four is pretty basic, it does a nice job of telling fun, abridged Simpsons tales, including one where Bart tricks his family by faking Bigfoot prints with some modified stilts, only to run into the real deal himself. D’oh!
9) Batman, Taco Bell
Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader smashed expectations during its run in theaters, and Taco Bell was on hand to make sure the flick stayed in moviegoers’ thought bubbles.
In total, fans had four to choose from, featuring the likes of the Batwing, Batmobile (complete with sweet specs) and a bizarre bio referring to Batman as, of all things, “the avenging hero of the nineties” even though it was still 1989. Obviously, he’d never be popular again.
8) An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Pizza Hut
We just can’t resist drinking our cold beverages out of a mouse-themed cup with a cowboy hat lid. Those who still associate FGW with Italian fast food probably have Pizza Hut to thank; their promotion had three colorful cups, one each for Fievel, Cat R. Waul, and Wylie Burp, all with terrific western headwear. Hey, Pizza Hut, can you adopt these as your fountain drink standard?
7) He-Man, Burger King
He-Maniacs of the time had to buy a Burger King “meal pack” to achieve one of these four collectibles. While they make for dubious weaponry (the kids in the spot must’ve had one free refill too many), we dig these cups because their illustrations remind us of the mini comics that came with MOTU‘s action figures. Hey, we’re still confused by BK’s decision to cross-promote them as toys, but they’re still a rad choice for hosting a beverage on a hot Eternian summer’s eve.
6) The Rocketeer/Pizza Hut
?Okay, time to fess up – this piece of sipware’s not exactly from a “set” like the other entries; there was only one cup in Pizza Hut’s Rocketeer movie promotion, which included, among other things, a cool glider thingy to assemble. Nevertheless, this collectible did do the helmet justice, thanks to an authentic looking face and a fin-lid to balance out inflight soda consumption. It’s the closest we’ll get to drinking from Cliff’s actual headgear, and considering the massive amount of sweat it probably absorbs, we’re pretty okay with that.
5) Last Action Hero, Burger King
Whether you loved or hated the movie, The Last Action Hero was a merchandising force that left little marketing opportunity unturned. Videogames, action figures, trading cards, and yes, even fast food collector cups were all branded by the explosive pic.
The thing is, the cups may have been cooler than the flick itself (and almost as meta). Motion would spur animation within their faux film frames, and some of LAH‘s more self-aware expressions (“Iced that one, to cone a phrase”) flanked their topside borders. We would’ve loved to hear Schwarzenegger pronounce these one-liners with every swig, but that would probably make them cost more than, well, free.
4) DC Super Powers Cup Holders, Burger King
Now you too can be served icy cola by Darkseid! Or, how about locking eyes with Wonder Woman while sipping your morning mocha? In all, there were four entries in this series, which also included Batman and Superman. Technically, it’s the cups’ detachable holders that make them worth mentioning, but as a complete package, they’re just too rad to pass up.
3) Jurassic Park, McDonald’s
Thanks to some insightful art direction, these cups felt like they were made for a real dinosaur zoo. Each one featured a wrap-around illustration, a human/dino size comparison graphic, and a story blurb explaining the scene. Fun fact: the set got surprisingly spoiler-heavy. For example, the fate of Wayne Knight’s impossibly obnoxious Dennis Nedry was plastered on the Dilophosaurus entry.
2) X-Men, Pizza Hut
?These four were part of Pizza Hut’s killer early’90s X-Men promotion, which featured both exclusive comic books and a round table discussion with Stan Lee on VHS. Their lids are perfect doppelgangers for the badges the team’s members commonly wear on their sleeves and belts, and the characters’ depictions nailed that chapter in X-history. Of course, nothing compliments a personal pan pizza like Mountain Dew served in a chilled Rogue cup.
1) Batman Returns, McDonald’s
For Batman Returns, the fast food promotional baton was passed to McDonald’s, which decked out its Value and Happy meal contents with all kinds of batty goodness, including, of course, their cups. Not only were there more to choose from (six in all) than the previous film’s selection, but their art and design were far more memorable, thanks in part to the more action-oriented illustrations. The lids could double as miniature glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, and c’mon, there’s just no beating a beverage featuring Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer slow dancing right before a Penguin attack.