Controversy brewing over Starbucks’ red holiday cup

Photo courtesy of Starbucks' Instagram
Photo courtesy of Starbucks’ Instagram

The typical Instagram posts and tweets about the unveiling of the annual Starbucks red cup have been replaced by an uproar regarding the removal of the Christmassy representations previously seen on the cups.

Starbucks’ red cup has become an iconic symbol of the holiday season since its release in 1997. Past cups have featured cartoons of classic Christmas symbols such as pine trees, snowmen, ornaments or reindeer, but this year the company opted for a more simplistic solid red design with an ombré fade into a darker burgundy. Many Christians claim the absence of Christmas themed imagery on the red cups is meant to serve as a demonstration of political correctness, but according to a statement released by the company, this is not the case.

“This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” said Starbucks’ vice president of design and content, Jeffrey Fields.

The hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks is generating some attention after Evangelical pastor and social media personality Joshua Feuerstein posted a video to his Facebook page on Nov. 5. In the video, Feuerstein boasts about how he asininely “tricked” the Starbucks barista to write Christmas on his cup by telling them his name was “Merry Christmas.”

“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head,” Feuerstein said in the video. “Did you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they are just plain red.”

If that were the case and Starbucks wanted to participate in the so-called War on Christmas, why did they not just throw out the red cup tradition completely and stick with their otherwise non-disputed classic white cup? Perhaps Starbucks wanted to simplify their design, as many modern companies do, but this does not mean they “hate Jesus” – as Feuerstein wrote in the description of his video. Starbucks still sells Christmas Blend coffee, an advent calendar and Christmas ornaments; they merely changed the design of their seasonal cup, as they do every year.

Feuerstein went on in the video to challenge viewers to boycott Starbucks in a rather unorthodox way: he believes if everyone goes to Starbucks and tells the barista their name is Merry Christmas, that somehow it will teach the company a lesson about the Christmas spirit. By doing so, however, these ‘boycotters’ are in fact generating more revenue for the company they supposedly disagree with, so the logic is a bit convoluted.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump also weighed in on the issue at a speech he gave in Springfield, Il. Trump owns one of the most successful Starbucks in his Trump Tower, but claims after the release of this year’s red cup he is no longer a supporter of the company.

“Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t care. That’s the end of that lease, but who cares?”

Trump went on to make a rather unrealistic and outlandish promise to the American people.

“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you. That I can tell you.”

Companies being either supported or hated for their religious affiliation has become commonplace in our society. Chic-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby are both widely open about their Christian beliefs and have voiced their opinions on many hot topic issues, but Starbucks has never been one of these companies. The Starbucks red cup has always ignited the holiday spirit for customers, and it will continue to do so with or without the Christmas-esque imagery some religious customers have become accustomed to.



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