If you hear someone yell “SNAKE!” at a baseball game, don’t be alarmed. The city’s boa constrictors are (hopefully) still safely contained in their zoological enclosures; chances are, the “snake” in question is made of beer cups. Beer cup snakes, long plastic serpents composed of used beer cups stacked atop one another, are sweeping the nation’s ball fields as a weird, goofy, very fun sign of goodwill toward men.
ESPN writes that no one is sure exactly when beer cup snakes originated. Per the ESPN article, they go back to at least 1969—at least, according to Cubs season ticket holder Lauren Mroz, who still has a 1969 copy of the Chicago Sun-Times featuring a photo of her grandfather creating a beer cup snake at Wrigley Field. “I looked up when the first recorded beer cup snake was, and it was 1997—and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, was our family’s beer cup snake actually the first one?’” Mroz said. “This might actually be a thing, we might have proof that this was the first one ever created.”
This year, beer cup snakes seem to represent the revelry that swept baseball fields after 2020's turmoil. Earlier this season, Cubs fans created a snake approximately 2,400 cups long; ESPN reports that the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota minor league team, recently set the North American record with a 1o2-foot-long snake. It’s a goofy phenomenon, to be sure—but for some fans it also represents a jovial sensibility that spans team rivalries.
“It’s so funny how it is the small things that don’t really matter that have the biggest impact on your mental outlook on things,” Mroz told ESPN. “It was a Cubs-Cardinals game, two fanbases that absolutely hate each other, and they were all working together to build this beer cup snake and were all working together to build this beer cup snake instead of getting into fights.” A long train of wet, sticky, saliva-covered beer cups. What could be more poetic?