Starbucks cups are examined every year for the first signs of red, green and gold flecks and festive designs. Coffee lovers worldwide know the festive season is upon them when the Starbucks cups morph from plain to full-on Christmasey.
E! Online has provided a timeline showing how the designs of the cups have changed in the last decade, titled “This is How Starbucks Red Coffee Cups Have Changed Over The Years.”
Previous Starbucks cups designs have featured snowflakes, snowmen, reindeer, Christmas trees, carolers, wreaths and similar decorations. In 2007, the cups were left plain but wrapped in an extra cardboard covering that – in addition to costing Starbucks a packet in paper costs and generating landfills of needless waste – made a strong statement about the Starbucks brand’s commitment to Christmas and the company’s embrace of the holiday. “Pass the Cheer” was written on the cardboard, and many of those 2007 cups were indeed full of cheery, festive holiday coffees released just for Christmas – Gingerbread lattes, Eggnog lattes, Pumpkin Spice lattes and the Christmas Cookie latte.
Fortune has reported that the Starbucks holiday cups generated a lot of publicity for the company last year:
[In] the 48 hours following the release of its 2014 red cup, a photograph of one was shared on Instagram every 14 seconds.
This year, latte-sippers were shocked to see that, while their Starbucks cups had indeed changed just in time for Christmas, the design was far from ornate or intricate. In fact, it was as simple as can be.
Plain red cups have appeared this November, with the usual Starbucks logo in the middle and no other markings, slogans, or illustrations.
The LA Times reports that some evangelical Christians are angry about the plain cups, which they see as evidence that Starbucks has turned its back on Christmas and Jesus Christ and opted to celebrate non-religiously.
[S]ecular coffee maker Starbucks has come under fire from some Christians who say the company isn’t repping hard enough for Jesus on its recent understated holiday cups.
The same groups accuse Starbucks of “embracing political correctness” with the plain cups, suggesting that the company has one eye on its atheist, Muslim, Jewish and non-Christian clients. In other words, Starbucks are afraid to alienate their huge non-Christian client base by releasing cups that “rep hard for Jesus.”
CBC reports that Donald Trump has weighed in on the cups, calling them “anti-Christmas” and suggesting that consumers boycott Starbucks.
One anti- Starbucks rant on Facebook, provocatively titled “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” read as follows:
“I think in the age of political correctness we become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head. Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they’re just plain red.”
Starbucks’ vice president of design and content made a statement that seemed to confirm that the purpose behind the 2015 Starbucks cups is to embrace coffee lovers of all religious affiliations, as reported by Forbes.
This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.
While the cups have received quite a bit of press coverage, not everyone is convinced that Starbucks have truly made any waves.
Has anyone actually met someone offended by the Starbucks cups?— Drew Holcomb (@drewholcomb) November 10, 2015
are there really that many people mad about the Starbucks cups or are there more people just making a big deal that some people are mad— aj rafael (@ajRAFAEL) November 10, 2015
I have yet to find a single Christian (myself included) who cares about Starbucks cups. I suspect publicity stunt. https://t.co/nscqhZrKr3— Paul G (@PaulGof2814) November 9, 2015
Indeed, Forbes suggested that the plain cups may have been a good move by Starbucks with a piece titled “Here’s Why The Drama Over Red Holiday Cups Is A Win For Starbucks.”
Some people questioned whether Jesus Christ would be offended by the Starbucks cups, implying that the religious icon would not concern himself with such Christmas trifles:
Yes, I'm sure Jesus is way more upset about the lack of snowmen on Starbucks cups than anything else presently going on in the world— mary kate wiles (@mkwiles) November 9, 2015
when you've got an entire universe to look after and you hear that Starbucks took the reindeers off their cups pic.twitter.com/a66moTXwnm— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) November 9, 2015
Others joked that Starbucks has actually not gone far enough in its effort to cater to all its clients:
As a colorblind-American, I'm VERY offended that Starbucks doesn't have gray cups that cater to me. #MerryChristmasStarbucks— Ross Dillon! (@HypnoRoss) November 9, 2015
Others seized on the supposed “blasphemous” spirit of the Starbucks cups and raised the company one, taking the opportunity to indulge in a bit of their own creative Starbucks-cups blasphemy:
Lastly, the inimitable Onion(a satirical newspaper) created some fake consumer commentary about the cups, taking the opportunity to joke about labor shortages during the holidays (“Do you have any idea how hard it is to find an available cup designer around the holidays?”), the blood-red color of the Starbucks cups, and the commercialization of Christmas in general.
Were you disappointed with the Starbucks cups? Is the “outrage” over the 2015 cups a publicity stunt by Starbucks?
[Image by Getty Images]