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Dr. Crumbine: Our Industry’s First Advocate

Each March, FPI receives numerous applications for an award called the Samuel J. Crumbine Consumer Protection Award. This prestigious award is given annually to local environmental health jurisdictions that demonstrate unsurpassed achievement in providing outstanding food protection services to their communities. The purpose of the award is to encourage innovative programs and methods that reduce or eliminate the occurrence of foodborne illnesses, recognize the importance of food protection at the local level and stimulate public interest in foodservice sanitation. 

You may wonder why FPI is involved in this award. We often tout the sanitary benefits of foodservice packaging, but this seems a little outside of FPI's main focus, wouldn't you say? Not if you realized who Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine was…

Dr. Crumbine was a sanitarian, physician and public health pioneer from Kansas who was renowned for his innovative methods of improving public health protection. As the story goes, he took a memorable train ride in 1907, which he described in this way:

"I went to the water cooler at the end of the car where I found a man drinking from the common cup, which in those days was part of the equipment of every railroad coach.

The man's emaciation, facial characteristics and hollow cough made it obvious that he was in an advanced case of tuberculosis, so I went back to my seat without drinking. But the heat soon made my thirst such that I went into the next car, only to find that two people in there were also on their way to the water cooler.

Of these two, one was an adult obviously ill from tuberculosis, the other a tow-headed five year old girl who eagerly drank from the common cup after the tubercular adult had used it…The tragedy I had just witnessed – that sick man, that little girl, drinking from the same cup – made a small pox epidemic I was on my way to seem trifling…"

Dr. Crumbine spent the next several years fighting with his own public health bureaucracy, but ultimately, he prevailed and in 1909, common drinking cups were banned on trains passing through Kansas. By 1912, 24 states had banned the common cup.

Banning the cup created a problem, however. What would take its place? Fortunately (for the future foodservice packaging industry), Kansas-born Hugh Moore and his partner, Lawrence Luellen, had invented a cone-shaped paper cup that was presented to Dr. Crumbine as the answer to the problem. Their "Health Kup" was soon found on trains, in movie theaters and other public places where water fountains were found. By the way, you might like to know that the "Health Kup" later became known as the "Dixie Cup."  

Dr. Crumbine passed away in 1954, leaving a legacy of contributions to public health. The award that bears his name was first handed out in 1955, and ever since, FPI has administered the program to recognize and honor his role in growing the early foodservice packaging industry. For more information on the Crumbine Award, and to see the full list of award co-sponsors, please go to

Posted By Lynn M. Dyer (President) | 3/7/2017 1:21:52 PM