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Why Do Fast Food Cup Lids Have Buttons?

If you've ever gotten a drink from a fast-food restaurant like McDonald's or Burger King, you might have noticed that the drink lids and sometimes coffee cup lids have random buttons on top of the drink cups. It turns out they're not so random after all. These plastic cup lids have places to make indentations for a very practical reason.

What Are the Buttons For?

If you've ever ordered a Sprite, Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, iced tea, or other soft drink to go with your burger and french fries at a place like McDonald's, you've probably seen the buttons on top of McDonald's drink lids. They also tend to be present on the plastic lids of a cold cup of whatever drink you ordered at other drive-thrus and fast food joints.

So, what are they for? Well, let's say you've ordered a diet Coke for yourself, a tea for your friend, a regular Cola for your cousin in the backseat, and a root beer for their boyfriend. If you're handed a giant tray of drinks when you've paid for your food service and are getting ready to leave the restaurant, without those buttons, it might not be clear which drink is whose. So staff members press buttons to indicate which drink they've put into the cup. It's as simple as that.

What Do the Cup Lid Buttons Say?

Often, the cup lid buttons say things like Cola, diet, tea, other, or caff. When they're pressed next to your straw slot, you have an idea of what drink should be inside the cup! One button being pressed should tell you which drink it is out of the multitude of beverages you ordered. It's really just meant to make your life easier, so you'll drink the one with the diet button pressed and not the wrong soda.

Some hot cups have the lids too, for things like a hot cup of coffee. There might be buttons to let you know whether it's a regular coffee or decaf.

Of course, not all restaurants are attentive about this practice, and if you're only getting one or two drinks, there's not really a point in the staff using the cup lid buttons. But now you know why they're there!