Starbucks, the coffee retailer known for seasonally-themed drinks and accessories, will this year drop any reference to Christmas from its signature red paper cups. On Sunday, the company explained in a statement that the move toward "two-toned ombré design," was conceived as a way to allow creative Starbucks customers to express themselves:
Since 1997 Starbucks has served its holiday beverages in a unique cup, starting with a jazz-themed design in jewel tones of deeper reds, greens and blues. Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters… Taking a cue from customers who have been doodling designs on cups for years (Starbucks held a contest to support this creativity), this year’s design is another way Starbucks is inviting customers to create their own stories with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas.
So if some customers might, for example, want to doodle a menorah on their Starbucks cups, Christmas tree decorations and Rudolph won't get in their way.
The decision has, not surprisingly, prompted right-wing Christmas supporters to accuse Starbucks of joining the war against Christmas. One Breitbart columnist wrote, "Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year."
Last week, Joshua Feuerstein, a self-described "evangelist, internet and social media personality," encouraged his followers to prank Starbucks by saying their name is "Merry Christmas," forcing Starbucks baristas to write the phrase on the red cups. Which is sort of line with what Starbucks had in mind, but whatever. He got very mad about it on CNN:
Now, the war against the war against Christmas has been bolstered by none other than Donald Trump, who said he's going to boycott Starbucks over the plain red cups. Well, sort of. The presidential hopeful promised a crowd of supporters in Springfield, Ill., that "If I become president, we're all going to be saying Merry Christmas again." He also threatened to ban Starbucks' from Trump Tower.
"I have one of the most successful Starbucks, in Trump Tower." said Trump. He added, "Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously, I don't care." But other comments made it seem like he does care? "That's the end of that lease, but who cares?"
Who cares, indeed.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.