Popular and Fun Zazzle Custom Mugs: Tard the Grumpy Cat and More

by Mira

I love custom mugs and I love Zazzle gifts. So I thought I’d bring the two together: some popular designs on mugs from my favorite provider of custom and personalized products.

Browsing on the large print-on-demand online retailer Zazzle for a while now, I started to wonder which custom coffee mugs sold best. Their Current Bestselling Mugs list includes 100 designs. I’m not surprised to find political statements, so short after the presidential elections in the US. I am surprised, however, to find 2 potty humor mugs in the first 20 mugs. I’m not surprised a coffee mug with The Hobbit logo took one of the spots in the top 100. Or to see a number of Disney mugs. I also expected to find that people like to see their photo on a coffee mug, and, indeed, they do. But what about truly funny, quirky messages. Not enough of them in this top 100.

Which is why I’ll browse more of Zazzle mugs than this top of bestsellers (as of November 14, 2012), and come back with a pick for each category showcased by Zazzle in the Mugs Department. These categories are funny mugs, quote mugs, office mugs, geek mugs, Harry Potter mugs, Disney mugs, inspirational mugs, teacher mugs, and so on. There's something for everyone this Christmas / holiday season.

Top 100 Bestselling Mugs on Zazzle

A Mug That’s Just a Template for a Personalized Photo Mug

At numbers 10, 14, 15, 35, 49, 51, 57, 53, 58, 79 come various styles of mugs and steins that invite the buyer to upload their text or photo from their computer directly onto the template. Your personalized mug will thus be ready in minutes. If you want to custom make your own mug, click the “Customize it” button, and then delete the text you now see on the mug. Zazzle has a number of nice fonts if you want to add some text of your own, and you can also add a photo or more easily. You can also change the style of the mug.

Make Your Own Mug
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Grumpy Cat (TM) Mug. "I had fun once. It was awful."
The Grumpy Cat is Popular on Zazzle

At numbers 4, 5, 6, 11, 26, and 43 comes the Grumpy Cat, with various messages. My favorite is “I had fun once. It was awful.” If you’re wondering about the origin of this fascination with this grumpy cat, how the whole buzz got started, here’s the story. Tard (short for Tardar Sauce, from Tartar Sauce -- or so we're told) the Grumpy Cat is a protagonist of a YouTube video that got viral in September. It has since reached 3,239,655 views (as of this moment on November 14, 2012). The brother of Tabatha Bundesen, Arizona owner of Tardar Sauce, shared some pictures of his sister’s Grumpy Cat on Reddit and they spread like fire. More social media turned this sad-looking kitty into an internet sensation. 

That’s the power of social media for you, taking over by storm Zazzle as well.

News Web sites picked up the story as well, calling this kitty vehicle of grumpiness a new meme. Here’s an interview with Tabatha Bundensen, the owner of Tard, to learn how this whole Tard the Grumpy Cat craze started.

Other Tard the Grumpy Cat Mugs

Another popular Tard mug is one with the Grumpy Cat (that has become the "Original Grumpy Cat") and the word "NOPE." Nope, he's not smiling, not even when he's surrounded by morning glory flowers (there's a poster with Tard and these flowers on Tard's owner's store on Zazzle, too).

If you prefer a mug with a photo of Tard and no written statements (his face speaks millions), that design is available on mugs of several styles of mugs, including a beer stein and a travel / commuter mug.

Grumpy Cat (TM) "NOPE" Mug
April 29, 2013: New Grumpy Cat (TM) addition: "Good morning. No such thing"
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April 29, 2013: New bestselling (make your own) mug on Zazzle, with Tard's new glare. Add your own text.
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Just What Is a Meme?

Never heard of the word meme before? A meme (pronounced to rhyme with "dream") is an idea, a cultural symbol, that spreads like wildfire, replicating by imitation and adaptation. One dictionary defines meme as

"a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation)."

The idea of meme itself first appeared in a 1976 book by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, titled The Selfish Gene. Dawkins likened memes to genes in that both contain information and replicate themselves.

April 29, 2013: Another recent design, and a popular one. "Do I look like I rise and shine?"

Memes replicate by language, and Internet memes by YouTube videos, blogs, emails, and various social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, tumblr, and others. News media will report the stories too, but they won't have the major role in spreading the idea behind a meme virally.

Internet memes are ideas, often humorous, that become what the news media calls "Web sensations." One such Web sensation this fall of 2012 is Tard the Grumpy Cat, which is disseminated online by the owner through social media as well as by numerous fans, who have started photographing other grumpy cats as well. So now Tard is "the Original Grumpy Cat."

April 29, 2013: A recent shot of Tard. My favorite Grumpy Cat (TM) mug right now! Click to look on the other side of the mug: there's a scary-looking Pokey as well.

The Original Grumpy Cat changes with time. As the holiday season is approaching, the owner created Christmas cards with the Grumpy Cat, for instance. They are also coming up with various text messages to accompany photos of Tard, as you can see on the mugs shown above.

April 29, 2013 Update: The Original Grumpy Cat is now the Grumpy Cat™. And judging by how Tard's owner appended Pokey to the Grumpy Cat, I'm thinking he may want to introduce a new meme this way.

A Mug with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

A mug with the title of the forthcoming movie, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” and The Hobbit logo in gold, comes in at number 29. So many people can’t wait for the movie The Hobbit to be released. Here in Romania we even have a statue of Gandalf the Grey advertising the December premiere right downtown, in Unirii Square. The film will be about the quest of Bilbo Baggins into the Wild and to the Lonely Mountain.

J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings. As he worked on the latter he changed the story in The Hobbit.

The second edition of The Hobbit reflected those changes. Tolkien is a great storyteller and the mug will make a great gift this Christmas, after the release of the movie, for anyone who loves Tolkien’s writing or the movies that it inspired.

The Hobbit mug comes in 7 styles. Five of them are coffee mugs, and then there’s a travel / commuter mug and a stein.

Books! I Need More Books!

A funny book mug with the statement “Books! I Need More Books!” came in at number 66 in the bestselling mugs list. It’s a great gift for the voracious reader: undergraduate and graduate student, librarian, editor, translator, writer, or your general readers out there, holding all sorts of jobs, who read on their way to work, in the evenings, and sometimes even in the mornings, before they go to work. Readers with such an appetite will be thrilled to receive a gift that confirms their addiction – one they are happy to have. So this Thanksgiving or Christmas, if you’re bound to run into a friend that you know has a passion for books, for literature of some kind, get something to brighten up their holidays!

Coffee Keeps Me Busy Until It’s Time to Be Drunk

At number 30 in the Zazzle list of top 100 bestselling mugs we find one with the statement “Coffee Keeps Me Busy Until It’s Time to Be Drunk.” The vintage design of a dainty forties lady drinking coffee makes the humor all the stronger. The combo is truly a winner. It’s a great gift for a friend this Christmas / holiday season, if he or she works hard but also likes to party hard.

And Now Some Personal Favorites from the Various Mug Categories

Funny Mugs: I Cook with Wine. Sometimes I Even Put It in the Food

I love to cook. Not so much with a glass of wine on the side though, but I appreciated the humor on this mug, even though I had seen it in the past. It makes me think of Bree in Desperate Housewives. She is a consummate cook but she also loves her glass of Chardonnay. Well, not any more, but at one point in the series she was drinking bottle after bottle. If you’re only drinking a glass or two as you cook, I think this mug will humor rather than hurt -- especially as it shows red wine! Red wine contains the antioxidant resveratrol, which protects the heart.

Geek Mugs: Will Code for Food

Some of my favorite geek mugs on Zazzle contain the statement “Will Code for Food.” A lot of people have become Android developers in the last two years, so this is a great gift for a programmer who has entered this game, as well as for anyone who develops any kind of software or Web sites. Anyone who writes code with a passion with be happy to receive this mug as a gift. This design comes with five mug styles, as well as with a travel / commuter mug and a stein. Whether your partner or friend is a newbie or a veteran code developer, they will appreciate this mug.

Quotation Mugs: Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

Looking at quote mugs on Zazzle, I came across one I really like. The message was familiar, but the phrasing had quite an impact: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I looked at the author: Neal Donald Walsch. I didn’t know him. I looked him up. He published a book in 1995 that stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for 135 weeks. It was called Conversations with God. I’m showing it below. He has since written six other books that made the same much-coveted bestseller list. Neal Donals Walsch has created a movement, Humanity’s Team, in 2003, and an NGO, New Spirituality Network, in 2004 to support it.

You can read much about the guy on Wikipedia and other sites. Wikipedia says that he was brought up as a Roman Catholic but that now “Walsch's vision is an expansion and unification of all present theologies to render them more relevant to our present day and time.” Whether you believe in his spiritual message or not, you may have to agree that the message on this inspirational mug is spot-on.

Inspirational Mugs: What You Seek is Seeking You

I browsed the inspirational mugs category on Zazzle and found one with another quote I found particularly powerful: “What You Seek is Seeking You.” I knew this message in the version popularized by Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist, which went something like “When you truly wish for something, the whole universe conspires to make your dream come true.”

What You Seek is Seeking You. So think positive thoughts, and you will make positive events happen. Think negative thoughts, and you will attract negative energies. It’s also known as the law of attraction.

Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic who also said “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” – among other wonderful thoughts.

Teacher Mugs: A Teacher Gives, A Teacher Shares, but Most of All a Teacher Cares

Teachers stand by their students, and help them not only with school work but also with advice on life. In my life I’ve been touched by many a great teacher and will always be thankful to them. A great teacher may teach philosophy, or math, or literature, or a foreign language, all the while teaching you about life and connecting with you in times good and bad. I have high respect and appreciation for teachers. Not everybody can honor this job, but so many people who are teachers and professors make such a great difference in their students’ lives.

This mug with “A teacher gives, a teacher shares, but most of all a teacher cares” is a great gift to give your teacher for Christmas, to let him or her know that you, too, care.

Office Mugs: Thinking . . . Please Wait

As we work, there are always people who approach us and demand our full attention. Usually they have little patience and want our attention that very second they come to see us. A mug on the table with “Thinking . . . Please Wait” is a fun way to let them know that we need a couple of seconds to switch from whatever it is we do to whatever it is they want from us.

But I like this mug also for occasions when we're not yet revved up in the morning or are too tired after a day's work. We can't and aren't on top form all throughout the day -- and that's why we could use a mug like this one, to say hey, I haven't woken up yet, or even to pretend we're thinking when we're in fact falling asleep in front of the computer.

. . . Now You Can Talk to Me

Another funny mug that's useful at the office has gradation lines with the words Asleep, Consciousness, Drowsy, Awake, Now you can talk to me (which, strangely, appear on the wrong side of the scale). Very useful in the mornings or on Mondays, after partying hard during the weekend. As the designer says, keep it on your desk and it will do the talking for you.

Just like the other custom Zazzle mugs, it comes in several mug styles, which include a beer stein (wonderful with this text) and a travel / commuter mug (fun to have in your car and thrust in the face of other drivers should you be drowsy enough to drive right).

I was inspired by this You may not talk to me yet-style mug and others like it to create my own version of this scenario. See below to the right.


Artist Mug with Yin Yang Halves and LOVE
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Artist Mugs: "Artists give shape to questions so you can see the answers."

I love quote mugs, so I created a design for artists, with a drawing based on the Yin Yang symbol, with LOVE bringing the two halves together, binding them, and the statement "Artists give shape to questions so you can see the answers." If you love art and writing, you have probably figured out what I mean by these visual and verbal statements. I hope you enjoy them.

This artist mug design is available not just on mugs, but also on T-shirts of different styles and colors, stickers, hats, mousepads, necklaces, iPhone decals, iPad decals, various ereader decals, aprons, tote bags, and more.


To write or not to write Mug
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Writer Mug: To write or not to write. Is that a trick question?

If you don't know what gift to offer a writer, a fun mug is a safe bet. One of my favorite writer's mugs comes with the statement "To write or not to write. Is that a trick question?" And how fabulous is the twist on Hamlet's soliloquy, since for writers immersion in the act of writing is one of their favorite ways of being in the world. Also, most writers feel compelled to write. To paraphrase Doris Lessing, writing is what writers do, first and foremost. She also remarked, "If you can imagine the sheer bloody pleasure of having an idea and taking it!"

I Like a Cup of Joe More than Most People

I like this statement for the ambiguity in it. "I like a cup of joe more than most people" can be read as either "I like a cup of joe more than most people do" or "I like a cup of joe more than I like most people." If you're "selectively social" and value your private time rather than hang around with people at any occasions, then this is a way to tell random people to leave you alone in the company of a good book or a good game on the computer.

A fun mug for people who enjoy being alone -- and their cups of joe, of course.

Also a fun mug for people who love coffee to bits.

Have a Fun Christmas / Holiday Season!

I hope I’ve inspired you to consider some custom-made coffee mug designs as presents for family, friends, teachers, and other acquaintances this holiday season. Keep in mind that there are many other fun mugs on Zazzle which can make great gifts this Christmas!

Updated: 11/09/2016, Mira
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Mira on 11/09/2016

Thank you. I love mugs, and I think they can make great gifts :)

DerdriuMarriner on 11/07/2016

Mira, Very nice! My favorites are the "Thinking..." and "To write or not to write: Is that a trick question?" mugs.

BrendaReeves on 11/18/2012

I love that cat. He looks like he needs a cup of coffee. lol!

Mira on 11/15/2012

Thank you, Roohi! I love Rumi and that quote too. It's a poignant way to express a fabulous idea. And that grumpy cat is quite a sensation this holiday season. I can't believe how popular it's become in so short a time.

Roohi on 11/15/2012

Wow, Mira! Great collection. That grumpy cat is just too cute! And I am a fan of Rumi. So, love that quote there. Truly wonderful.

Mira on 11/15/2012

Thank you, Sandy! :-)

sandyspider on 11/14/2012

These are great. I love the grumpy cat and Thinking mug the best.

Mira on 11/14/2012

Thank you, Katie! I'm glad you like these mugs :-))

katiem2 on 11/14/2012

The more I look at them the more I realize you have an outstanding collection. Feels a bit like you've gotten inside my mind. :)K

Mira on 11/14/2012

Ha ha! :):) Thank you, Katie!!

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