A Swig of History: The Mardi Gras Cup
Jan 19 2018

A Swig of History: The Mardi Gras Cup

By: Becca Miller

What can't you catch at a Mardi Gras parade? Nowadays, you can catch everything from the plastic beads to a glittered coconut. But, like any local will tell you, one of the most coveted throws of them all is a Mardi Gras cup.

At a young age, we are taught to always grab the cups, even if it meant scuffling under floats and between marching bands. Now, as adults, that tradition has carried forward, as we mix the next cocktail in a recently caught cup.

Any local will understand that Mardi Gras cups are more than a decorative cup. It’s a cup we grew up drinking out of, something our parents mixed their cocktails with, the ultimate go-cup, and the major drinkware lining the shelves of our cabinets.

Now, where did all this fuss over a cup come from? It all started in 1980 when locals started wanting more from their parades. On a chilly day in the Westbank, people gathered for the Krewe of Alla, drawing one of the biggest parade crowds at the time.

"The new item was a plastic Krewe of Alla drinking cup, which sparked as many under-float scuffles in its first year as time-tested doubloons," wrote The Times-Picayune, in a story about the parade.

Ever since, there has been a debate about who originally threw the first cup. The theory is that the Krewe of Rhea was the original krewe to throw Mardi Gras cups. As it reports, the Krewe of Alla started an hour later than scheduled, meaning they would have started at 2 p.m. instead of 1 p.m., while the Krewe of Rhea started their parade at 1:30 p.m. Regardless, the Mardi Gras cup is an almost 40-year tradition.

The man behind the cup is none other than Corrado Giacona II, a New Orleans native and a graduate of the University of New Orleans. His international brand, Giacona Container, is the major producer of the unique Mardi Gras cups.

While tourists may call out for beads, we locals will be sitting back and calling for cups while we drink out of last year’s cup. 

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