The cup was originally designed by Leslie Buck of the Sherri Cup Co. in 1963, to appeal to Greek-owned coffee shops in New York City, and was later much copied by other companies. The original Anthora depicts an image of an Ancient Greek amphora, a Greek key design on the top and bottom rim, and the words "WE ARE HAPPY TO SERVE YOU" in an angular typeface resembling ancient Greek, for example with an E resembling a capital sigma ("Σ", a letter pronounced like English "s"). The blue and white colors were inspired by the flag of Greece. The cup subsequently became the metropolitan area's definitive coffee-to-go cup.
Sales of the cup reached 500 million in 1994 (when it was by far the most popular design for the company's cups), but had fallen to about 200 million cups annually by 2005. One New York Times writer in 1995 called the Anthora "perhaps the most successful cup in history". By 2007 it was mentioned in passing in a New York Times television review as "one of those endangered artifacts".
The trademark was acquired by the Solo Cup Company, which licenses sales of the cup. The Anthora coffee cup is featured in movies and television shows that are set in New York such as Archer (TV Series), Brooklyn 99, NYPD Blue, House (TV series), Nurse Jackie, Castle, Lipstick Jungle, Damages, Mad Men, Men in Black, Law & Order franchise, The Big Short, and most recently, '' Marvel's Daredevil.
Buck never made royalties from his design, but as a salesman he was well-remunerated for the success of the product. When he retired from Sherri Cup Co. in 1992, he was presented with 10,000 Anthoras printed with a testimonial inscription. After Buck's death in 2010, a New York Times writer described the motto on the cup as having "welcome intimations of tenderness, succor and humility".