Is there a correct layman's term for Styrofoam cups and plates(sic)?

I’ve been wondering about this. A search of the archive yields this thread, but it doesn’t answer the question.

From Dow’s website comes the following, which I knew to be true:

So, my question is two fold, I guess – Why is it that everyone in America (yes, hyperbole, deal with it) calls those polystyrene cups and plates “styrofoam” ? Is there an accurate layman’s term for these products? If no, why not?

I imagine that this will generate more WAGs than anything else, but I hope not. Manny, Chronos … If this degenerates below the GQ level, feel free to move it.

The company I work for wholesales foam products made from Styrofoam brand material (HA! take that!). We almost always refer to such products by that name or, to a lesser extent, just foam.

According to this article by Cecil, the correct name is “plastic foam cup”.


From the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual:

“Styrofoam A trademark for a brand of plastic foam. Use the term plastic foam unless referring specifically to the trade mark product.”

Even though we think nothing of making a xerox or using a kleenex, journalists are trained to keep terms commercially neutral. The problem nowadays in the infotainment culture is that companies who pay for air time and print space want you to use their brand name when the news is good, but use the generic term if it’s bad. Good thing the SD isn’t infotainment - it’s entermation.