I recently did a pottery throwing class, where I got to make a range of mugs (or cups - not to be size-ist), jugs and a bowl. It was while doing this that I realised just how much I love mugs, and just how ambivalent I am towards bowls. To the point where, I didn't care how my bowl turned out. Bowl, schmole.
What is it about mugs, exactly?
Now, when I get this kind of strong leaning towards something, I usually like to explore it to see what it means. Why on earth would I have a favourite kind of tableware to make? The process is so similar for each, there must be something deeper going on here rather than just size.
So after some careful consideration, here is what I have come up with:
1) A mug is an expression of individuality
All across the world, in every office and every home, people have chosen certain mug shapes, styles and patterns, to drink from. This is a personal choice, and often reflects something about the drinker. Are they fun? Beautiful? Big? Tiny? Ornate? Plain? Thin? Good for certain drinks? Match your curtains? Do they prefer tea? Coffee? Hot chocolate?
Oliver Jeffers recently did an Instagram post showing his painting of Chinese factory workers each holding their unique mug. This was the only thing they were allowed to have in the factory where they worked which showed any individuality; the rest of their uniform and workspace was generic and equal. As much as a factory might like to make people as similar and interchangeable as possible, it's simply a basic human need to express individuality. See the post here.
2) Mugs have that loving feeling
A while ago there was a study done by psychologists that showed if you hand people a hot cup of tea or coffee, their opinion of you will be warmer, kinder and more generous. There's obviously a strong association between the container for this loving warmth, and the feeling it helps generate.
3) Mugs help administer your favourite addiction
It's no small surprise that we might develop an attachment to mugs if they also carry our favourite caffeine-containing beverage. The size, shape and material of a mug can dramatically influence the taste of your drink - just ask any tea drinker which mug (or cup) makes the best tea, and they'll definitely have a preference. (For reference, mine is a mug made from fine bone china. Lovely!)
Unlike glassware for alcohol (which is another favourite addiction container), mugs are likely to have more of an influence over the final taste of its contents due to the massive range of shapes and thicknesses. These would likely affect temperature for brewing, evaporation rates and spillability. A carefully considered choice is a must.
4) Mug is slang for face
Just as mugs are unique and varied, so too are our faces. The word 'mug' being used as a slang term for face, may have its origins in the days when they used to paint faces on the side of mugs, with varying grimaces. [NB: The phrase "your ugly mug" is most at home in gangsta films from London.]
You can check out my Pinterest board (#becausemugs) if you like to nerd out on pottery or get yourself down to a pottery throwing workshop if you too want to find out how satisfying it is to make a mug.
And finally... mug rhymes with hug #justsayin