The History of the Block Party

Among the many innovations New York has given the world, including air conditioning, hip-hop and the potato chip, one of the most fun is undoubtedly the block party. A large public party taking place on an entire city block closed off to traffic (thus the name), block parties are often used to celebrate events, observe a holiday or merely have fun during the weekend. Music from DJs or even live bands, inflatable slides or bounce houses and barbecue and other foods are all common sights at a block party.

Block parties have their origins in Manhattan during World War I. Entire blocks would be roped off for parades held to honor residents of the block who had gone off to join the service. These impromptu parties weren’t legal but police often allowed them to happen anyway.

During the ’70s and ’80s, block parties became intricately linked to the burgeoning hip-hop scenes in the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. DJs would often power their sound systems by illegally taking electricity from the streetlights to cut records live during the celebration.

Today, all you need is a permit to have a city-approved block party of your own. Then bring the food, drinks, music and of course disposable dinnerware and other party goods to enjoy one of New York’s most popular inventions.

Famous Cups

disposable dinnerwareOur inventory of party goods includes a number of paper and plastic cups, one for any kind of get together you have planned, or just for having around the house. Whether you need something fun and festive for the kids or simple and elegant for a more formal affair, we have a cup for the occasion.

Our selection of cups got us thinking about some of the most famous cups in the world. Here’s what we came up with.

  • The Stanley Cup: The championship trophy awarded annually to the National Hocky League playoff winner is indeed a nearly three foot tall silver and nickel cup that weighs 34.5 pounds. It was introduced in 1892 as the Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup, but it got its current name from Lord Stanley of Preston, the then Governor General of Canada and an enthusiastic hockey fan who helped the popularity of the sport in the nation.
  • The Holy Grail: A cup so famous, its name has gone on to mean something almost impossibly great and rarefied, the Holy Grail is a legendary relic of Arthurian literature first introduced in the late 12th century poem Perceval, the Story of the Grail. Over time, the Christian tradition of the Holy Chalice became woven into the  legend of the Grail and, in modern times, it has featured prominently in films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

All Tomorrow’s Parties

party goodsSummer is the season for parties. Relatives coming through town, friends stopping in to visit and sunny days to enjoy outside all make for a great excuse to throw a get together. If you want to mix it up, though, here’s a few ideas for summer parties of your own. All you need is food, drinks, party goods and people for an instant good time.

  • Pool Party: When the mercury starts rising, your party needs more than cold drinks to help guests cool down. If you have the necessary accommodations, throw a pool party! Grill some food on the deck, enjoy the sun, then go for a dip. If there’s no pool to crash, take the party to the beach!
  • Go Back in Time: Throw a party recreating your favorite era with period-appropriate outfits, music and drinks. Outdo Jay Gatsby with a Roarin’ Twenties party, get the greasers and jocks together around the jukebox for a swinging ’50s theme or break out the leisure suits, big hair and Hall & Oates records for an ’80s extravaganza.
  • Go Around the World: Set your party in the Far East, or Hawaiian islands, or wherever else strikes your fancy. Make the food and drinks of your favorite region and serve on disposable dinnerware to add an exotic flair to your summer shindigs.

Lemon Bars Recipe

party goods

Photo: Ryan Benyi; Styling: Andrea Steinberg

A graduation party can be a fun way to connect with friends and family you don’t normally get a chance to see, but a lot of work goes into them too. You need to stock up on party goods, make sure there’s enough disposable cutlery and then you have to actually feed all those people. But if you want a simple dessert that everyone will enjoy, try a pan of these deliciously tart and refreshing lemon bars. You can also trade the lemons for limes for a tasty twist, or make both and display them in an attractive checkered pattern.

Lemon Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 lemons, juiced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a medium bowl, blend together softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9×13 inch pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and golden. In another bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in the eggs and lemon juice. Pour over the baked crust.
  4. Bake for an additional 20 minutes in the preheated oven. The bars will firm up as they cool.

Iced Teas for Summer

disposable cutleryLast week we discussed some good summertime beers to include at your next party or event, but what about the kids and non-drinkers? If you’re looking for a good non-alcoholic drink to serve that’s still delicious and refreshing (and comes without the high sugar content and high fructose corn syrup of sodas), why not make some iced tea? It’s easy to brew (all you need is about five or six tea bags per gallon), it’s super healthy (packed with antioxidants!) and tastes great on a hot summer day. Here’s a couple delicious iced teas to try serving with your party ware and disposable cutlery.

  • Mate: Made from steeping the dried leaves of yerba mate in a gourd of hot water and then drinking the tea through a metallic straw called a bombilla, mate (pronounced “mah-tay” and often spelled in the United States as maté) is the traditional drink of Argentina, where it is often consumed several times a day. In Brazil, an iced mate tea is very popular, often served with lime slices or mixed with lemonade.
  • Peppermint: Peppermint herbal tea is a popular hot drink, especially in Europe, but it also tastes great (and extra refreshing) iced. Try combining peppermint tea with either black or green teas for a tasty twist. Just brew three black or green tea bags together with three peppermint tea bags, chill, serve over ice and enjoy.

Summer Beers

party goodsEveryone loves getting together for a drink, so if you have a get-together planned this summer, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got plenty of alcohol to go around in addition to the kitchen garbage bags and other party goods you’ll need. This time, consider skipping the pilsners for something a bit more interesting (and much more appetizing), like one of these alternatives.

  • Barleywine: If you’re looking for something with some kick, this should do the trick. Barleywine is a strong ale that’s very hoppy and full of flavor. Watch out because they tend to be high in ABV! Try Bell’s Third Coast, Founders Bolt Cutter or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Ale.
  • Brown Ale: Traditionally an English beer, brown ales are typically sweet with moderate hoppiness, making them well-suited for warm weather. Try Bell’s Best Brown, Black Toad Dark Ale or Newcastle Brown Ale.
  • Hefeweizen: This Bavarian wheat ale is light and refreshing without sacrificing taste, making it a perfect summer drink, one even the most unadventurous beer drinker can appreciate. Some popular hefeweizens include Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier, Pyramid Hefeweizen and UFO Hefeweizen.
  • Irish Red Ale: Traditionally, an Irish red ale is a form of pale ale originating in Ireland, not unlike an English bitter. In the United States, the term red ale is often applied to a regular lager with caramel coloring, but some examples of genuine Irish red ales are Smithwick’s, Short’s Magician and Harpoon Celtic Ale.

Key Lime Pie

party ware

The recommended way to serve Key Lime Pie.

If you’re planning on getting together with your friends and family this weekend (perhaps for Father’s Day this Sunday?) and looking for something summer-appropriate to serve, it might be time to bring out the old classic: the Key Lime Pie. This delicious sweet has been a warm weather staple for ages, and it’s not difficult to make. Make sure you have the disposable silverware and other party goods, then follow this easy recipe.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl with fork, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and sides of a nine inch pie plate.
  3. Bake crust for 10 minutes, then leave to cool on a rack.
  4. Whisk together condensed milk. egg yolks and juice in a separate bowl.
  5. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven another 15 minutes.
  6. Cool on a rack, then cover and chill for at least eight hours.
  7. Just before serving, beat cream with a mixer. Serve pie topped with cream.

Party Ready Songs About Paper

party goodsPaper is incredibly versatile. As soon as humanity discovered they could make the thin but practical material out of wood pulp, there was no shortage to its applications. Among the things we’ve come to rely on paper for: books, bags, disposable dinnerware, party goods and musical muse?

Yes, paper is a frequent subject in popular music, probably because its lightweight nature provides an irresistible metaphor for troubadours the world over. Here’s a few of our favorite songs about paper.

  • Can – “Paperhouse”: Considered by many to be the krautrock legends Can’s magnum opus, the 1971 double LP Tago Mago includes some of the psych-rock outfit’s most accessible songs alongside some of their most experimental. Opener “Paperhouse” errs toward the former, even with its seven minute-plus run time. It’s a gorgeous slice of guitar rock gold, although the meaning behind vocalist Domo Suzuki’s stream of consciousness lyrics remain, as always, anyone’s guess.
  • Talking Heads – “Paper”: Talking Heads’ 1979 album Fear of Music is one of the band’s most beloved works, expanding the band’s sound and bringing in some of the off-kilter rhythms they would come to be known for. “Paper” takes full advantage of the opportunity for metaphor as David Byrne compares a recent relationship to paper’s translucence.
  • Modest Mouse – “Paper Thin Walls”: In retrospect, Modest Mouse’s 2000 LP The Moon & Antarctica seems something of a turning point for the band. Moving away from the dark and raw sounds of their first albums into a brighter, more pop-oriented sound alienated some fans but brought a lot more into the fold. “Paper Thin Walls” is a good example: an upbeat, relentlessly catchy tune with characteristically obscure lyrics.

The History of the Picnic

disposable silverwareThe first usage of the word “picnic” is traced back to the 1692 edition of Tony Willis’ Origines de la Langue Française, which mentions the recent advent of the so-called pique-nique, although the origin of the word (and whether or not it comes from piquer, “to pick,” and nique, “a thing of little importance”) is unknown.

About a half century later, the word appears in English in a letter from the Gallicized Lord Chesterfield. At this time, picnics were usually associated with hunting–a meal eaten outdoors when taking a break from the hunt.

Picnics have come to play important roles in world history. After the French Revolution in 1789, the royal parks were opened to the public for the first time and picnicking became a popular activity there. In the early 19th century, a group of fashionable and influential Londoners formed the Picnic Society, where events of the day were discussed over large potluck meals outside. And in 1989, the Pan-European Picnic peace demonstration was held on the Austrian-Hungarian border in opposition of the Iron Curtain, an important event of the Revolutions of 1989.

But you don’t need a social upheaval or injustice to protest to throw your own picnic. To enjoy the warm weather and catch up with your friends and family, you just need some food and drinks, a red check blanket, disposable silverware and party goods.

The Caipirinha: A Perfect Summer Cocktail

disposable cutleryPlanning a party this summer? Before you start sending out the invites, you’ll need to make sure you have all the essential supplies. That means plastic cutlery and disposable dinnerware, of course, but also the food and drinks themselves. If you’re looking for a fun and delicious alternative to the usual light beers and screwdrivers, why not take some inspiration from a nation that knows how to enjoy the warm weather?

In Brazil, the most common liquor is cachaça. Distilled from sugar cane, cachaça comes in many varieties and ranges from syrupy sweet to well over 100 proof strong. Over 390 million gallons of cachaça are consumed in Brazil annually, and though there are many different ways to enjoy this distinctive drink, the most common is undoubtedly Brazil’s national cocktail, the caipirinha.

Luckily, if you can get your hands on some cachaça, the caipirinha is incredibly easy to make for your own summertime gatherings. Just follow this simple recipe:

Ingredients

  • 50 ml cachaça
  • Half a lime cut into four wedges
  • Two teaspoons crystal or refined sugar

Preparation

  • Add the lime wedges and sugar into an old fashioned glass and muddle (mash the two ingredients together using a muddler or a wooden spoon).
  • Fill the glass with crushed ice.
  • Add the cachaça.