In the first episode “The Doorway” of the 6th season, the creators of Mad Men introduce a new character: the always smiling and good looking accountant Bob Benson (James Wolk).
And when Bob meets Don Draper (Jon Hamm) accidently in the elevator of the SCDP office, he offers him one of his two paper coffee cups he just bought in a coffee shop around the corner. This blue and white cup with the golden letters on the label is not just some kind of cup, but the legendary ‘Anthora’ paper cup, created in 1963 by Czech coffeshop manager Lesli Buck in New York. It’s one of the most iconic products in the New York history and is already sold over 1 Billion times in the last 50 years.
The cup is designed in a Greek themed style because many coffee bars in the 1960s had been owned by Greek immigrants. It shows an ancient Greek urn or Amphora, which is the reason why the icon is later called Anthora, due to a mispronunciation of the Euopean accent of the Czech inventor.
And now back to Bob Benson and his hot coffee. Later in the season, we’ll find out that Bob is gay or bi-sexual and that he worked as a ‘manservant' to his former boss and vice president. SLATE Senior editor David Haglund already assumed that the ambiguous faux Greek font inscription on the cup: “We are Happy to serve you.“ is a hint to Bob’s past as a callboy.
While this is already a bold assumption you can even analyze the cup on a deeper level because “Greek Style" means also a homosexual practice. The term is a reference to an sexual practice in the classic Greece (2000 B.C), where high status and honored men used young boys for their sexual pleasures.
Furthermore, if we analyze the scene more broad before we see Bob and Don in the elevator, we can spot Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) watching an magazine ad. It’s an ad for KOSS headphones created by SCDP. It shows a classic Roman or Greek-like dressed man with a naked shoulder who is happily smiling in the viewers eyes.
The Greek costumed testimonial is the last still before we see the elevator where Bob makes Don’s a couple of compliments. Bob talks about Don’s nice tan, he introduces himself, offers him his precious second cup of coffee, opens the door for him like a servant and leaves Don in the creative department with the words: “I love it down here”, wich can be labeled as another very ambigious line and hint.
Nevertheless, the coffee cup can also be spotted in other scenes without Bob. Therefore, I don’t know for sure if the creators and set decorator Claudette Didul had all this in mind by giving Bob’s character exactly this cup of coffee in this scene, but I think it’s a nice assumption to worship the deeper meanings of the little details in the prop and set design.
Mad Men Picture Coyprights by AMC TV
Picture Source Coffee Cup via Amazon
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