That’s right. Slurpee cups.
UPDATED 7/11/18: So it’s 7/11 today. And that means the marketing mavens at 7-Eleven have decided to spend the day giving out free Slurpees. Groovy! But it also reminds me of this piece that I first posted last summer. Seems like a good day to revisit it, right? Dig. — Dan
Marvel’s been having a kick getting ready for its Legacy revamp with a bunch of retro moves yanked right out of the Silver and Bronze Ages.
One of them is the variant covers coming this fall featuring ’60s T-shirt art by Kirby and Ditko. (Click here for info.) Another is the return of the Marvel Value Stamps. (Click here for info.)
I look forward to both, but they also made me think how much I’d love to see Marvel do something with the Slurpee cups of the ’70s. (DC too!) And that got me to poking around the eBay and, lo and behold, there’s a smorgasbord of cups available with characters from the House of Ideas and the Distinguished Competition.
Best part? Some of these designs are off-the-hook bizarre — especially DC.
History lesson: You know what Slurpees are, right? The frosty drinks you can get at 7-Eleven? Well, for several years in the ’70s you could get your taste treats in white, plastic cups featuring a shockingly wide array of characters from DC and Marvel.
What’s pretty clear overall when you see the cups is how much sharper Marvel’s were compared to DC’s. Marvel really used its marketing prowess to get its designs to pop with bigger, brighter artwork, often with imagery specifically created to sell products. The publisher also later really embraced the medium, as it were, with glorious illustrations that wrapped around the cup.
DC, on the other hand, seemed to mail it in half the time with images clipped from actual comics, often with unintentionally hilarious results.
But putting it all together, a lot of these cups were just … strange.
So here are the 13 WACKIEST MARVEL & DC SLURPEE CUPS. (At least those I could find good pix of on eBay.)
Now, for some reason, the Superman Family is well represented on this list. For starters, there’s Martha Kent. I mean, she looks fine. But think about being the poor kid who got stuck with this one when he ran excitedly to the store to get that Slurpee he saved up for. This is like getting a cup with your Grandma on it, reminding you to read your Scripture.
Jimmy, meanwhile, is just slacking off at work.
And Perry’s being Perry. Except, again, imagine desperately wanting Superman and ending up with a guy who looks like your pissed-off principal.
On the other hand, there’s Streetwalker Lois Lane. How many Moms in America took one look at this one, gasped, and made sure the cup was “accidentally” melted in the dishwasher.
“Hey, son, can I have a sip?”
Now, legendary pulp hero Doc Savage makes an appearance because Marvel had the license back in the day. But I can’t imagine little Johnny being too keen to get him when he’d rather have Spidey or the Thing. Then again, maybe I’m wrong about that.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret. I don’t know who Clea is. I think maybe she has something to do with Doctor Strange, whom I readily admit I know almost nothing about. I’m just not a Marvel Encyclopedia. I admit that. It’s a really neat image. But I still can’t help but think that little Janie would be as mystified as I am when the clerk handed her a cherry Slurpee with Clea on the cup.
I love that DC bothered to do Hourman — or as he’s called here “The Hourman.” But who are those weird, off-putting children marching behind him? Are they with Hourman or are they planning to take over the world by some kind of soulless, telepathic groupthink? I’m guessing this is ripped right from some Golden Age splash page… but still.
Elongated Man should look elongated, sure, but maybe not THAT elongated. He just looks… I don’t know. And why so serious, Ralph?
Hey, I know people like Herc. I do. But this falls under that “Aw, man, I wanted Captain America!” category.
Oh, come on, Stan. Look, I know a lot of people knock Stan Lee for his, shall we say, promotional acumen. I’m not one of them. But even this is too much. Have you no boundaries, Mr. Lee? Have you?! (And to use “Super” no less!)
All of which brings us to the piece de resistance: Captain Boomerang copping a squat.
I’ll just leave that right there.
August 30, 2017
If I remember correctly, and this might not been the case at all locations, I thought that you could actually choose the Cup you wanted, depending on the selection available.
So, you wouldn’t necessarily be stuck with a Martha Kent cup, unless that was the one you wanted to complete your Superman collection!
August 30, 2017
You may be right, Sean. My recollection is hazy on that. I just seem to remember it not being self-serve, which means it wasn’t under your control. And there have to be places where kids weren’t given a choice. Or, if they did, Martha was all they had left. Not to pick on poor Martha…
September 25, 2017
Love the Slurpee article. I’m from Corpus Christi, Texas and we got our first neighborhood 7-11 in 1975 just as the Marvel cups hit stores. Every day during the summer of 75 and every weekend after that I walked my 8 year old self to the corner for a Marvel Slurpee.
At my store there were 3 tubes of cups by the Slurpee machine. You could pick whichever one you wanted. Each tube was made up of just one character. It seemed like half the time at least one, sometimes two tubes were Nighthawk, who I had never heard of. Also lots of Valkyrie and The Angel. It got to the point where the manager would let me go to the back and look thru cases of cups before he put them in the store. One of the first cups I found that way was Super Stan. Another was Dracula. I eventually had the entire Marvel collection. Sadly they were all lost or broken decades ago.
We never had the DC cups in South Texas. I think they were first issued in 1973. My first knowledge of them was when my Dad returned from an out of state business trip and brought me a Batman cup. I freaked because Batman was my favorite. I was sure my 7-11 would get them any day but they never did.
Thanks for bringing back some good childhood memories.
September 25, 2017
That’s great, Danny! Thanks for posting that!
July 13, 2018
i had super stan also dracula man thing all chipped or in bad shape
November 12, 2019
I have a bunch of DC cups, and when i bought them as a kid my 7/11 did not give options on which cup you get. It was very frustrating.
June 29, 2020
That Saturn Girl cup became my everyday-cup for at least a half a year! The dishwasher eventually washed most of her off the cup!
May 14, 2021
I was heavy into the DC cups back in the day and still have them around somewhere. Couldn’t stand lime or cola slurpees which always seem to be commonplace so I’d ask for the cup to be filled with popcorn instead. Your captions for each cup are spot-on!