Home Decor

Too Many Cooks: Nice Mugs

November 13, 2015

Recently, a friend told me that she likes her new roommate so much that she feels comfortable leaving her favorite mug out in the cupboards of their shared kitchen, and even lets her drink out of it. That really is love, I thought. We grow strangely attached to the things we drink out of, and we all have a favorite mug—one we might even be a little protective of (c'mon, we all do it, right?). This week, I asked the Food52 staff to describe theirs.

Photo by James Ransom

Caroline: I never realized how many other people have those big stoneware Taylor & Ng mugs; I got a set of them from my mom when I went off to college (the very same mugs she drank from when she was in college). My favorite is L'Escargot, which is written in that Taylor & Ng font (and which I have always thought looks like my mother's handwriting). It has a pair of blue snails sidling up to a flower pot on the side.

Leslie: My favorite mug doesn't have nearly the story yours does, Caroline: I bought it as the first thing to "decorate" my dorm room my freshman year of college. It's from Anthropologie (which I probably called "Anthro" at that point), has scalloped edges, fake paint splatter on the inside (to look like I was drinking tea while Jackson Pollocking), and I thought it was the coolest/ prettiest thing I'd every laid eyes on (still kind of do...). The only photo I have of it is too embarrassing to post here (styled with a dining hall grapefruit and an issue of Kinfolk). And I still use it every night because it is the perfect size for hot milk with honey...

"Come into my office"

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Ali: My favorite mug is one from Recreation Center, partly because of its looks but mostly because of how I got it. I had been eyeing my co-worker's for a long time, but never told anyone that I really really wanted it. Then, totally out of coincidence, my dearest friend got it for me for my birthday—she said she was on a waitlist for it for months, knowing that it would become my favorite mug. When I moved to New York, my favorite mug broke en route. It was devastating. I couldn't handle the separation, so I bought another one—and never told my friend that the one I have isn't the one she got me (until now, I suppose).

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Haley P.: I've secretly had a favorite mug (that I'm definitely, totally protective of), and this past weekend, when visiting home, my sister and I discovered that we have the same favorite mug when we both went to grab it from the cupboard. Big problems at the Priebe household. It's my favorite because it's lucky (and because it's curves in at the top and keeps things hot for an extraordinary amount of time).

Amanda H.: After college, I lived with my oldest sister, Rhonda, and my (then, new) brother-in-law, Paul, for two months. I immediately took to their IKEA mug with a funny snake illustration on it, and used it every day, not realizing it was Paul's favorite mug. He didn't say anything for weeks, as tension grew in the house. Finally, my sister sat me down and asked if I could please use the IKEA mug with the monkey illustration instead. I consented, of course, in the short term—and then relentlessly teased Paul about his snake mug possessiveness for the next 15 years until it sadly broke in one of their moves.

Lindsay-Jean's favorite mug. Photo by Lindsay-Jean Hard

Lindsay-Jean: My favorite mug is by an awesome local Ann Arbor artisan (Karl's wife Cara)—it's the perfect size for cupping your hands around while warming up with a hot toddy. Plus, the ridges remind me of ripples in the sand, so every time I drink out of it I mentally transport myself to the beach.

Jojo: When I was heading off to college, my younger sister got me a mug. Since she's only 10 months younger than me, we grew up spending a lot of time together, and at 16 years old and also wanting to leave the house, she had a hard time seeing me off. She selected a mug with a rose painted on it as an ode to my middle name (Rose); it's splotchy and looks like something you'd purchase at a Hallmark (which she probably did)... BUT out of all the off-to-college gifts I received, this was by far my most cherished. (And nearly 15 years later, it's currently sitting in my sink; I still use it every morning for my cup of joe.)

Lauren's all-time favorite (with her name on the bottom!). Photo by Lauren Locke

Lauren: I love the mug that my grandmother gave me, not only because it was one of the last things she gave me (full of Mackintosh toffee), but also because of the story behind it. When I lived in Japan, I took a ceramics class and made pottery for all my family for Christmas. Sadly, my car was broken into on Christmas Eve and all my presents were stolen—I can only imagine the disappoint of the robber when he or she unwrapped handmade pottery, t-shirts from Nagano (the soon-to-be Olympic site), and chopsticks and phone charms galore. Years later, my sweet Grannie Bet was at a bazaar and saw this mug right side up. As legend has it, she thought "this looks Japanese-inspired, I think I'll get it for Lauren!" Then she turned it over, and saw the imprint.

Jackie: I am attached to Sir/Madam mugs. There's a store upstate that my husband and I love that sells them. We picked them out together: I have one that says "Honey" and my husband has one with a goat on it. (He really likes goats.) They are extra-large, perfect for holding with two hands, and equipped to hold lots of hot chocolate (milk + Fox's U-bet syrup) with homemade marshmallows.

Tim's not-too-small, just-right mug, made by a friend. Photo by Tim McSweeney

Tim: Typically, my wife and I are the "two plates, two bowls, two spoons" type of people, but over the years we've been collecting a lot of ceramic mugs. That said, I still basically only use one. It's this stubby little rough brown one, and it's glazed white on the inside. It's just the perfect drinking vessel, small enough so it feels great in your hand—and also I like to drink lots of small cups of coffee versus one big cup (don't ask me why). It was made by a friend of mine in L.A., PKK ceramics.

Describe your favorite mug—or what makes the perfect mug—in the comments

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • MaryAlice
  • henandchicks
  • AntoniaJames
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


MaryAlice November 15, 2015
Where can I find another white porcelain mug, which recently developed a stress crack after years and years, with penguins on it, like the one I bought in the Falkland Islands?
henandchicks November 13, 2015
The small college where I taught had a relationship with our local NPR station, and the faculty were frequent on air guests. The standard thank you was the VERY coveted NPR mug. We all these mugs on our desks, shelves, 'casually' sipping from the newest one during a meeting ("oh, this? The new mug design...yeah, pretty nice, I guess"). I love my mug; it is a nice shape, a pretty slate color, and I do listen to a lot of NPR- I have my kids convinced that Kai Ryssdal is my radio boyfriend.
AntoniaJames November 13, 2015
"Les Pivoines" French china tea cup and saucer; "Early America" mug, also French, same manufacturer.

I cannot think of a more elegant way to warm one's hands on a chilly morning. So pretty to behold, as well. ;o)