Car radios have come and gone. Ditto for pop-out lighters and GPS systems. But cup holders are forever.
Yes kids, cars really used to come without cup holders.
As indispensable as they’ve become, it’s hard to believe that manufacturers have only been building them into car interiors since the 1980’s. We so covet the perfect cup holder that an Autobytel survey found that 39% of us try out the cup holders when we shop for a new car, and 27% of us will completely reject a make or model solely on the basis of cup holders that aren’t to our liking.
It still doesn’t explain the Honda Odyssey—seating for 7, cup holders for 15.
The number one complaint reported by 70% of the survey respondents is that cup holders are too small. Back when cup holders were first installed, soda came in 7 ounce bottles and 12 ounce cans, and a large restaurant soft drink was 16 ounces; today the standard soda bottle is 20 ounces and the average restaurant serving is a whopping 42 ounces.
European car makers are legendary for their inability (or unwillingness) to understand the cup holder. Sensible German and Scandinavian drivers drink their coffee in proper venues, and they would never enter a vehicle with a sloppy, sloshing soda. For years the European manufacturers couldn’t bring themselves to condescend to the coarser habits of American car buyers. At first they refused to install cup holders at all. Finally, grudgingly, they came up with a too small, too flimsy, spring-loaded finger-like thingy, thereby helping to create a secondary market in jumbo car cup holder mounts and adapters.
Maybe Mayor Bloomberg is on to something.
In the pre-cup holder days of the 1970’s, the calories in the beverages we drank added up to a mere 2-4% of the total calories we consumed. Since entering the super-size-me-venti-big-gulp era, the average beverage intake now accounts for nearly 21% of the total.
The real problem, of course, is not that the cup holders are too small, but that our drinks are too big.