An NPR Mug Mystery A mystery 16 years in the making. An NPR producer went on the hunt for the namesake of her mug and it took her to some unexpected places.

An NPR Mug Mystery

An NPR Mug Mystery

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A mystery 16 years in the making. An NPR producer went on the hunt for the namesake of her mug and it took her to some unexpected places.


We have a story now about your stuff and what can happen when you give it away. Here's MORNING EDITION producer Catherine Whelan with the story of her favorite mug.

CATHERINE WHELAN, BYLINE: So I found this mug at work. It turns out NPR reporter Colin Dwyer first brought it into the building in 2013 during his internship.

COLIN DWYER, BYLINE: I came across it in the cupboard of a house that I was living in - and it was one of those Craigslist situations.

WHELAN: Colin's best guess is that a former housemate must have bought it at a thrift store.

DWYER: This plain old white mug that just said, I went to Jonathan Katzer's (ph) bar mitzvah in 2003.

WHELAN: I had to know more. Who is Jonathan Katzer? I tracked him down with his father Ron (ph), who created the mug.

RON: September 16, 2003, was Hurricane Isabel, and we lost power for a week.

WHELAN: So they needed a new venue for the bar mitzvah.

RON: The local church had a very nice pastor who offered their social hall.

WHELAN: Ron printed 250 mugs as favors, but only 120 people came. So Jonathan says they then had a surplus of mugs to get rid of.

JONATHAN KATZER: Which my dad gave to, essentially, every human who entered our house for the next 10 years.

KATZER: You a little bit exaggerate.

WHELAN: The mugs got around.

KATZER: In college, I guess I got invited to a friend of a friend of a friend's party, and I found - I went to Jonathan Katzer's bar mitzvah mug in the person's cabinet.

WHELAN: And somehow, now one of those mugs lives on my desk at NPR. I imagine a bar mitzvah I never went to, and our reporter Colin who first brought the mug to NPR does, too.

DWYER: I just picture a bunch of really awkward seventh graders and some really awkward dancing.

WHELAN: As for Jonathan...

KATZER: I actually realized I don't have one in my apartment in New York.

WHELAN: He can't have mine. Catherine Whelan, NPR News.

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