No Snack Cup? No Problem.

Geek Culture

We tend to do a lot of afternoon shopping with our toddler daughter. Although we try to bring snacks, sometimes we forget or run out, and then end up grabbing something at a store we’re in. Today it was trail mix, a big bag with tons of dried fruit at the top. I’m loathe to give a two-year-old unfettered access to a one-pound bag of snacks, for reasons hygenic (hey, I might want some too) as well as practical (I’d hate for her to drop it).

In grocery stores I am sometimes able to drum up a sample cup or bulk food bag to drop an appropriate portion of goodies into, handing that off to the kid. Today we were in a big-box store instead, one that happened to sell a few groceries, so I fell back on a trick I developed in a similar situation a week or so ago: Making a cup out of a piece of paper.

Pretty simple once you think of it – who doesn’t have a piece of paper kicking around? The shopping list, a note from Mom’s purse, a stray flyer, even an advertising circular from the store itself will do. The simplest method is to fold the paper into a haphazard cone shape, fold the top edge inward several times in various positions, and you have a pretty shoddy-looking toddler snack cup. The trick for this cup type lies in making sure the cone’s outside seam has a sufficiently strong folded edge so that your cone doesn’t unravel.

You can make a nicer cup if you’re willing to rip your paper to make it into a square. This may earn you some eye-rolls in the grocery aisle, but so do tantrums, right? Making the cup at right takes six folds, and is detailed on this German mathematics site (in English!), or you might be able to infer it from their diagram at left.

Update: Matt Blum points out that tearing is not necessary: "What I do is take an 8.5×11 piece of paper, fold one corner across to the opposite side to mark off the square (and make the first fold of the cup). Then I fold back (rather than tear) the leftover rectangle, and proceed to make the cup as per the directions." Thanks, Matt!

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