One of the most popular movie star trading “cards” of the 1930’s to 1940’s among children were the round Dixie single-serve ice cream cup lids which bore a photo of an actor or group of actors on the inside portion. Tom Tyler appeared on two Dixie cup lids, one photo is from “Fast Bullets” in the 1930’s, and as one of the Three Mesquiteers in “The Phantom Plainsmen” in the 1940’s. Dixie cup lids came in two different sizes: 2 1/4” and 2 3/4”.
Hollywood stars appearing on Dixie cup lids dates back to 1933, but up until that year, circus animals and performers appeared on the Dixie Cup lids beginning in 1930. In 1932, nature animals made their debut on the inside of the ice cream cup lids. The Hollywood actor sets contained 24 different lids. Each set might see a different design in the photo and informational text on the star. For example, the Tom Tyler “Fast Bullets” lid contains a full circle photo with the text on the outer edge of the photo, whereas the mid-1940’s design had only a ¾ of the circle photo, with text below in several lines.
Tom Tyler was not the only cowboy to appear on these Dixie Cup lids. Ken Maynard was the first western star to appear in the 1934 series of these lids, while Roy Rogers can boast appearing the most times on the lids – a total of twelve, in different profiles and poses. Wild Bill Elliott also appeared twelve times, but like Tom, was often paired with other western stars on a single lid. The last Dixie cup lid to show a Hollywood star on the inside was in 1954. These lids could also be sent in
to its manufacturer in exchange for an 8 x 10” color photo of a
favorite star (usually the same one on the matching cup lids). The
preprinted color photo also contained more photos on the back, along
with biographical and studio information.
Rutherford County Gas & Oil Co., was located in Murfreesboro, TN. Among its products were ice, sodas, and ice cream. One of its most popular products were single-serve ice cream cups, complete with a lid that was sturdy enough to seal the ice cream from moisture. These cups were manufactured by Individual Drinking Cup Co. New York in 1910. While the company name may not ring a bell, it was later renamed Dixie, due to its most popular product, the Dixie cup, which was created in a sterile environment, meaning, that each cup was manufactured and assembled completely by machinery without an employee having to physically touch the cup. One interesting piece of history about this disposable cup is that it was manufactured with the intent to prevent germs and infection from being spread, thus being named Health Kup. Lawrence Luellen invented his paper cup in 1907 while he was a practicing lawyer and believed the common sharing of glasses at public drinking water sources.
Today, Tom Tyler Dixie cup lids can be found at antique shops and online auction sites.