A Brief History of Starbucks’ Holiday Cup Controversies

Starbucks devotees get awfully excited about the chain’s annual unveiling of its holiday cups — but in recent years, not everyone has been so cheerful about it. The chain first introduced holiday cups in 1997, annually featuring Christmas-y designs such as reindeer and ornaments, and managing to remain scandal-free for nearly two decades.

In 2015, however, the tumultuous political climate of an America on the verge of electing Donald Trump to the presidency gave way to Starbucks’ first holiday cup debacle — and each year since, it seems the coffee giant manages to piss people off with its seasonal cup offerings, despite its best efforts.

Here now, a brief timeline of Starbucks’ holiday cup controversies, from 2015 to the present day:


Starbucks rolls out a new holiday cup that’s decidedly more subdued than years past: a rather plain, red ombre design, which the company explains is intended to “usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories” (aka be more inclusive). This doesn’t sit well with some, including an internet evangelist by the name of Joshua Feuerstein. In a video that quickly goes viral, Feuerstein — clad in a Jesus t-shirt and clutching a handgun — rails against the coffee chain for trying “to take Christ and Christmas off of their…cups,” and encourages people to “prank” Starbucks by telling baristas their name is “Merry Christmas” so they’ll have to write it on their cup and call it out when the drink is ready.

Feuerstein’s screed and the resulting internet fury leads Donald Trump to weigh in on the controversy, telling supporters at a rally that the Starbucks cups were evidence of the “war on Christmas.”

Read more at Eater.com: https://www.eater.com/2015/11/10/9705570/starbucks-holiday-red-cups-controversy-history