The cup was originally designed by Leslie Buck of the Sherri Cup Co. in 1963, to appeal to Greek-owned coffee shops in New York City, and was later much copied by other companies. The original Anthora depicts an image of an Ancient Greek amphora, a Greek key design on the top and bottom rim, and the words "WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU" in an angular typeface resembling ancient Greek, for example with an E resembling a capital sigma ("Σ", a letter pronounced like English "s"). The blue and white colors were inspired by the flag of Greece. The cup subsequently became the metropolitan area's definitive coffee-to-go cup.
Sales of the cup reached 500 million in 1994 (when it was by far the most popular design for the company's cups), but had fallen to about 200 million cups annually by 2005. One New York Times writer in 1995 called the Anthora "perhaps the most successful cup in history". By 2007 it was mentioned in passing in a New York Times television review as "one of those endangered artifacts".
The trademark was acquired by the Solo Cup Company, which licenses sales of the cup. The Anthora coffee cup is featured in movies and television shows that are set in New York such as Goodfellas, The Sopranos, Archer, Brooklyn 99, NYPD Blue, House (TV series), Nurse Jackie, Castle, Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Suits, Lipstick Jungle, Damages, Mad Men, Men in Black, Law & Order, The Big Short, White Collar, 30 Rock, Marvel's Daredevil, Marvel's Luke Cage, The Magicians, Flight of the Conchords, and most recently, Amazon's Good Girls Revolt.
Buck never made royalties from his design, but as a salesman he was well-remunerated for the success of the product. When he retired from Sherri Cup Co. in 1992, he was presented with 10,000 Anthoras printed with a testimonial inscription. After Buck's death in 2010, a New York Times writer described the motto on the cup as having "welcome intimations of tenderness, succor and humility".
- Margalit Fox (April 29, 2010). "Leslie Buck, Designer of Iconic Coffee Cup, Dies at 87". The New York Times.
- John Freeman Gill (June 26, 2005). "Urban History to Go: Black, No Sugar". The New York Times.
- Jesse McKinley (October 15, 1995). "F.Y.I./A Cup of Inspiration". The New York Times.
- Virginia Heffernan (May 27, 2007). "To Sleep, Nay, Perchance to Stay Wide Awake". The New York Times.
- The New York First Company
- Cassie Spodak (April 30, 2010). "Iconic coffee cup creator dies". CNN. Archived from the original on April 30, 2010.
- Office Depot: Solo Jazz Waxed Paper Cold Cups