Photo courtesy of Giphy
Starbucks cups do not define the holidays. Yearly controversy over the “red cup” that is used to serve coffee at Starbucks began in 2015 with the blank red cup and continued in 2016 with the “green cup”.
Dating back to 2015, Starbucks made the decision to use a plain, red-ombre cup as their holiday cup. This was the first year since 1997 that the cups did not have any holiday design or element appearing on their holiday cup. While some adored the simple cups, others viewed it as Starbucks initiating a war on Christmas.
When the 2015 holiday cup contained no sign of holiday cheer, Christian customers were outraged. They viewed it as Starbucks oppressing Christians’ beliefs or to appeal to non-Christian customers. I would like to note that in the past 18 years no Starbucks holiday cup specifically featured a Christmas scene but only wintery images or abstract Christmas ornaments or lights. The company never touched the real Biblical Christmas story and never put it on their cups.
The year 2016 brought a great divide to America. From Nov 1-9, Starbucks released a green cup with a single, connected line that drew out the face of over 100 people. CEO Howard Schultz said “During a divisive time in our country, Starbucks wanted to create a symbol of unity as a reminder of our shared values, and the need to be good to each other”.
With the release of the green cup, customers were terrified that there would be no red holiday cup. Other customers were outraged viewing the cups as a political statement from the company. I did not see the faces of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on the cup, nor was the cup made blue or red showing the company’s political views. What was suppose to show unity during the division in America during the election only brought unity through customers coming together to agree that they did not approve of the cup.
The only thing truly unifying to Starbucks customers was the revival of the red holiday cup. Starting on Nov 10, 2016 Starbucks began serving their piping hot drinks in 13 different designed red cups.
After the 2015 explosion and outrage from customers over the red cup, Starbucks knew people wanted the holiday designs back. As of now, there has been zero controversy or harm made by the new 2016 cups.
Starbucks’ Vice President of Marketing, Nancy Poznoff, offered her opinion that “The holidays don’t start until you’ve had your first red cup at Starbucks”. The holidays do not need to have a red cup in order for it to be special. The real reason for the season should be the focused, not what a company’s decision on what cup to sell coffee in.
What your coffee comes in should not change the actual product it is just the way it is delivered and has nothing to do with actual taste or quality of the drink. We are not only arguing and boycotting something as silly as a holiday cup, but we are letting it divide us. Holidays are not about cups.