I’m getting the feeling that for many household products, aluminum was the standard before plastic had its big breakthrough. These aluminum cups were popular in the 1940s and ’50s in the same settings where today plastic is the number one material of choice: barbecues, parties and picnics.

Bascal aluminum tumbler, 1950s.

Bascal aluminum tumbler from the 1950s.

The two main manufacturers of aluminum tumblers were Sunburst and the Italian company Bascal. The cups came in bright colors – purple, pink, red, blue, silver and a variety of other hues. The aluminum was anodized – a process that protects aluminum from oxidation, increases wear resistance, and promotes color retention. Still, these cups are not recommended for dishwashers, as their colors will fade faster than with hand washing.

Bascal aluminum tumbler

Bottom of a Bascal aluminum tumbler

With their humble size, these cups are a bit out-dated for today’s soda lovers. They hold a mere 11 oz of liquid. The current 7-11 Super Gulp measures a mammoth 64 fluid oz. Since last week’s article on aluminum ice cube trays, I’ve done a fair amount of additional research on the health concerns of aluminum. Just type in “aluminum health” or “aluminum kitchenware health” into Google, Yahoo, or one of the other search engines, and you’ll get thousands of results. The main objects of attack are deodorants, baking soda, cheap cheese (as used in cheeseburgers), and of course, cookware.

Bascal aluminum tumbler

Detail of a Bascal aluminum tumbler

The discussions are very emotional (which is understandable, considering a the possible consequence of Alzheimer’s), but are also unfortunately rarely based on scientific studies. It seems studies backing up either side are hard to come by, or don’t appear to exist at all. What a pickle. We actually have an article devoted to the discussion of health issues concerning aluminum. Since I now own both an aluminum ice cube tray and this green tumbler, I really wanted to know if they’re safe for my tequila gimlet at this year’s first cookout.


  1. Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

    Aluminum in cheap cheese? I can't wait to read about that.

  2. Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:58 AM | Permalink

    nice set on the 'bay w own churchkey and case. http://tinyurl.com/yejthj6

  3. Kris
    Posted February 8, 2010 at 3:59 AM | Permalink

    Holy Toledo! I was thinking about these when you posted the aluminum ice cube trays. My grandparents had them, in all different colors, and there is nothing better for sipping Hawaiian Fruit Punch on a hot summer day in Pasadena. Lots of ice, and you can just watch the condensation forming, mostly up to the high-water (high-punch?) line. I recommend sipping from a supine position, in the clover under a shady oak tree. Or if you have a porch swing, that would also be ideal.

  4. ines
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 3:22 AM | Permalink

    I remember the aluminium dishes, spoons, forks and pots on our excursions with the boy scouts when I was about ten (almost 30 years ago) The most important was, that it was lightweight to carry and qualified for the open fire place.

  5. Kelly Baumann
    Posted February 10, 2010 at 2:35 AM | Permalink

    I have to say that aluminum has recently become one of my mortal enemies. I am studying in Iceland, which is a country 'blessed' with the presence of some of the most polluting industries in the world. Guess what their trade? (Hint: it's the subject of your article!) Right! It's aluminum! This is a very controversial material and I think that we can find an alternative for designing our cups and ice cube trays. I am in the process of becoming eco-friendly in my shopping habits without becoming too preachy. It's difficult and there are so many factors that go into weighing these decisions. If I come across anything then I will let you know. Good luck on your research of the health effects! And increased risk of cancer or Alzheimer's would not be a nice parting gift for a barbeque.

  6. tracy
    Posted September 23, 2010 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    i remember my dad having the aluminum cups i think he said back when he was a boy in the 40s and 50s cottage cheese came in them well i have been looking all over the place for them and now found a website that sales them so i will be buying them

  7. Steven Tacy
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 6:31 PM | Permalink

    Growing up my Grandmother had four tumblers and I'm sure she said that she initially bought them with cottage cheese in them. She used them as part of her regular drinkware even during the 70's and 80's. I remember her putting juice in them and then freezing them on a hot summer day and then letting us go at them with a spoon. I was smart enough once to lick the bottom of the cup, not smart as you can imagine. When my Grandfather passed away 14 years ago my mom asked me if there was anything I would like and I told her about the cups. My Grandmother said I could have them, but didn't know why I would even want them. My Grandmother just passed away this last week and so I brought them down from the top shelf where they have been sitting for several years and was showing my kids. They bring back great memories of the time I spent with my Grandparents. I can still smell my Grandpa's Pepsi as he poured it over some ice in these very cups. He'd let me take a sip and that is what I think of every time I open a Pepsi and take in the smell. I'll cherrish my cups forever. They are a scratched and dented around the top, but they held their color nice, probably because my Grandma didn't have a dishwasher. Thank you for your site and the background of where these things came from.

  8. Herman Keller
    Posted February 12, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    I just saw a big set of those bascal tumblers on ebay. I might pull the trigger they look cool!

  9. Mary Braden
    Posted August 9, 2011 at 5:15 PM | Permalink

    Yes, these tumblers came with cottage cheese in them.

  10. Marlene Clements
    Posted September 4, 2011 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

    Well I've been trying to find out something about the Bascel cup for quit awhile now. What do the letters on the bottom mean on them? We own quit a few of the cups because that's what my boyfriend has always drank his chocolate milk out of since he was a child and that Is what he still uses. So we were just trying to find out what the letters on the bottom mean. Thanks Marlene

  11. Cathy Page
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    We had a dozen of the smaller cups in our home when we were kids in the 50's. They had Davy Crockett on the side. This year, when my parents both died, their granddaughters (now in their 40's) were delighted to find Grandma's "magic cups" – it seems that there was no water that was colder than tap water in Grandma's magic cups. We never knew they thought the cups were magic until now. The 4 granddaughters took turns choosing from the pink, purple, yellow, and blue cups and each took their treasures home to use with their families. I think it was the high point of the "choosing treasures" process for all of us.

  12. Janet
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    My daughter and I were just talking about these tumblers yesterday. I told her I remembered my mother buying cottage cheese in these. I'm glad to see that my memory still holds true! I'm 71 and loved the trip down memory lane your website just gave me. Now I'm longing for a set of my own!

  13. Rod
    Posted August 24, 2012 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    I have seven of the aluminum cups and have been in my family since they contained cottage cheese.

    Three cups are "Bascal" because that name is stamped on the bottom. No number, on two there is just an "R" for "registered" The other only has "Bascal" and nothing else.

    Four cups do not have any markings.

  14. richardloose10@hotma
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 12:23 AM | Permalink

    Remember them from the 50's. Sandwiches and Kool-aid for lunch. I have a small one that I picked up at a yard sale. Wish I could find more of the bigger ones. Any ideas?

  15. lena rose
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    the vintage glasses are available on ebay-new ones on amazon

  16. Matt
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 6:12 AM | Permalink

    Can't you still buy anodized aluminum cookware? I'm pretty sure it's safe to use….after all it has been a standard material in kitchenwares, cookwares for almost a century now. And it still is. You can buy a set of 100% anodized aluminum skillets, etc. I can't see the harm. I would see more harm in trying out a new non-stick coating or material that was made today. But if there was links to health problems from using aluminum housewares, etc. I would think much like lead, we would know by now. We have a almost a 100 year sample of the material being widely used in every aspect of society. Aluminum foil being the biggest one that comes to mind. Nobody would suggest you not use aluminum foil when cooking, etc. The only fear the may be substantiated here is the bacteria that may be able to live in pores of the material. Even then, this is true of most plastics, and happens much quicker. THere has to be a way to disinfect them. My advice is ask two sources. GO to a local antique dealer that deals in these types of things, metalwares, and they should know about the safety of using the items. They should also be able to tell you how to properly clean/disinfect them. The second source would be a local university…find someone in the chemistry dept and pose this question to them. You may get nowhere but might be surprised just how willing they are to help you if they can. I've used this route to obtain hard to obtain information before.

  17. michelle
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 4:41 AM | Permalink

    Ei dont know what u all are worried about when u drink soda, beer, and even have aluminum cookwear. If u look at the big picture, theres no way to prevent cancer. Im certain everyone including their selves knows some one (multipal at rhat) or even experienced or will in the future. I had stage 2 cervical cancer at the age of 19 with being diagnosed with hep c and never touched a needle in my life and still wont! I discovered benine lumps (cysts ) in my left brest on my own self breast exam at the ripe age of 15-16 & age 20 and have them again. K havent followed through no good insurance. County health care. Not even medicaid..county wont sue for ssi and i need more test that the county wont cover. They cant even cover a majority of my meds so i have strength to fight the monster. Ssi says i have enough creditand that i was being treated at the time,even though they say it limitsmy abilities they still feel i can act on my own behalf.i even tried for share of cost medicaid started in 08 im now 40 and cant hold a job. Too many issues and dont know how or what to focus on! Take care!! & most of all.. Bless you

  18. michelle
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 4:51 AM | Permalink

    Enjoy the tumblers, u only live once!! They make great deco pieces if ur that worried and also are apart of histoty wich makes great conversation! ! Sincerly michelle rettka

  19. Skye Flyer
    Posted April 4, 2013 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    I have a full set of these old Bascal Aluminum cups. I don't know about any health issues, but boy do they make milk taste good! I swear they make it colder!

  20. Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    we had some of the copper colored mugs with handles when I was a kid. My nana made cornmeal mush and put in the mugs overnite. In the morning the solid mush came out and she sliced it and fried it. With butter and syrup it was sooo delicious. What I really want to find is at least one Davy crockett bell tumbler. I had one growing up and would love having one for nostalgia. Never knew cottage cheese came in them.

  21. sara
    Posted January 26, 2015 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    I got theses cups I was jw how much they are worth it

  22. Posted February 24, 2015 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    Yeah Skye i have also observed that it makes the milk taste good. I liked it and looking for more posts on this. Thanks

  23. Posted April 19, 2015 at 9:10 PM | Permalink

    Hi there it’s me, I am also visiting this web page on a
    regular basis, this web page is in fact fastidious and the users are genuinely sharing pleasant thoughts.

  24. Posted May 13, 2015 at 7:53 AM | Permalink

    wonderful publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite experts of this sector do
    not notice this. You should proceed your writing. I’m sure,
    you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  25. Patricia Gichnour
    Posted June 10, 2015 at 9:32 PM | Permalink

    I have a set of 8 of the Bascal small glasses that accidentally were washed in the dishwasher!! Needless to say..it dulled the beautiful finish..is there anything that could be done to restore the colors.

  26. Posted March 1, 2016 at 10:56 PM | Permalink

    Aluminium is the material used in most of our daily life, and I think this is also the raw material for human safety.

  27. Margie
    Posted June 22, 2016 at 11:41 PM | Permalink

    What do the letters on the bottom of the Bascal aluminum cups mean?
    Thank you for your help!!

  28. Posted June 27, 2016 at 12:41 AM | Permalink

    that’s good (Y)

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