To be clear, I don't think plastic disposable coffee cup lids are a good idea. But as product designers, I think it's helpful to know the history of so ubiquitous an object, and the role that design played in popularizing on-the-go coffee. (It's weird to think that for decades, coffee was something that was only drank while sitting down, in-situ, from a ceramic cup.)
Big changes to the design of snap-on cup lids came in 1967, with the first pull tab; in 1975, with a pull-tab that could be folded back and locked into the lid; and most notably with the anti-splash Solo design of 1984, which also featured clearance for your schnozz.
In this short video, author A.J. Jacobs breaks down the history of the lid's design changes:
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You might be wondering how Jacobs came to be an expert on coffee lids. Well, he recently decided to write and research a book with an odd mission:
New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs decided to thank every single person involved in producing his morning cup of coffee. The resulting journey takes him across the globe, transforms his life, and reveals secrets about how gratitude can make us all happier, more generous, and more connected.