Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / General Tiki

What was the first Tiki mug?

Pages: 1 14 replies

Just wondering, what is recognised as being the first Tiki mug, as used in a bar or restaurant? I don't mean "14th century Polynesian figural drinking vessel" type 'mugs', but the kind we know & love today. Any ideas?

Trader Woody

Well, have you ever seen the tops of the Easter Island Moai?

Think about it....

A very very good question...I could never answer it. What seems likely is that Trader Vic was the first who decorated a cocktail container with Tikis, with his Tiki Bowl, in the 40s. This concept was obviously based on old Hawaiian chief's drinking bowls that had Tikis as supporting figures (BOT p.93).

But WHO was the first to come up with the (logical) next step, to make Tikis into cocktail containers?

It is interesting that none of the "Big Three", Don, Vic and Steve, had Tiki Mugs on their menu:

Don The Beachcomber never had them.

Trader Vic was very late with his "Suffering Bastard/Mai Tai" mug, and it was never used for serving in the restaurants.

Stephen Crane's Luau had the S&P shakers, but did not serve in the Florian Gabriel mugs until his Kon-Tikis opened.

Was Tiki Bob the first..?

And WHEN? I would guess not earlier than the mid-to-late 50s, when the Tiki became the figurehead of Polynesian pop.


sven, what about the Don head mug? Although it is not a tiki per se, it is a "head mug"- was that an early piece or something derived way after tiki mugs were common?

On 2003-04-15 20:12, bigbrotiki wrote:
A very very good question...I could never answer it.

Ah, I'm glad I'm not the only one who couldn't. It struck me that it must be common knowledge, yet I couldn't remember it ever being mentioned.

At some point in time after "The Big Three" the bright idea of serving drinks in an actual Tiki mug must have come up and it obviously spread like wildfire. From the situation of having no Tiki mugs whatsoever to having untold varieties in just a few years is pretty amazing. But what was that mug that kicked it all off? For some reason, I've always assumed it would be a moai-esque mug, so perhaps Tiki Bob's is that missing link......

Trader Woody


I would have thought it was a coconut. The scenario I imagine is that perhaps drinks were served in real coconuts and pineapples, but this got tedious and expensive for the bar, so someone thought of making ceramic ones. And from there it naturally progressed to tikis.
This is all purely conjecture however.

All the pics I have of all the bars, etc. Eli (that's Ely to Sven and others) decorated from the 50's on up, have glass and no mugs. I have one artilce (out of 100) that was from 72 that has a pick of him at his office with a TV Suffering Bastard decanter on his desk. Just my 2 cents?

Tiki Central - Exception

Oh no.

An error occurred. Site administrators have been notified of the error.