Starbucks Red Holiday Cup Controversy

Starbucks Red Holiday Cup Controversy

Part of a series on Joshua Feuerstein. [View Related Entries]

Updated Jun 13, 2019 at 03:09PM EDT by Kevinvq2.

Added Nov 10, 2015 at 03:20PM EST by Don.

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Starbucks Red Holiday Cup Controversy refers to the backlash directed toward the Starbucks coffee company for their 2015 red holiday cup design, which some Christians found offensive for not including traditional Christmas imagery.


On November 1st, 2015, Starbucks[3] unveiled their new solid red holiday cup design (shown below).

On November 5th, Christian vlogger Joshua Feuerstein posted a video to Facebook[1] asking viewers to provide the name "Merry Christmas" to Starbucks baristas and to post the results online with the hashtag "#MerryChristmasStarbucks" (shown below). Within five days, the video gained over 500,000 shares, 178,000 likes and 51,900 comments. The same day, the conservative news site Breitbart[4] published an article titled "War on Christmas: Starbucks Red Cups Are Emblematic of the Christian Cleansing of the West."

Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus … SO I PRANKED THEM … and they HATE IT!!!! #shareUse #MERRYCHRISTMASSTARBUCKSFollow --> Joshua Feuerstein

Posted by Joshua Feuerstein on Thursday, November 5, 2015

Notable Developments

Starbucks' Response

On November 8th, Starbucks released a statement[2] about the cup design, claiming it was created to provide a "blank canvas" for customers to doodle on.

On Twitter

On November 9th, Twitter user @JamilahLemieux[5] posted photographs of the Starbucks cup with a cutout of Ben Carson's Jesus painting pasted on the side (shown below, left). Within 24 hours, the tweet gained over 2,300 likes and 1,800 retweets. Meanwhile, other Twitter users began mocking the backlash in containing the hashtag #ItsJustACup (shown below, middle, right).[6][7]

Jamilah @JamilahLemieux # Follow l fixed the controversial Starbucks "Christmas" cup. #merrychristmasstarbucks RETWEETS LIKES 1,874 2,330 12:58 PM-9 Nov 2015 LET'S JUST USE ALL THE COLORS THAT WAY NOBODY GETS OFFENDED Cheeses Christ @LordCheeses Follow Instead of the #RedCups Starbucks should just go with this design next Christmas. #ItsJustACup 11:16 AM 10 Nov 2015 わ다 15 17 計 AND THEN THE LORD SAID: THOU SHALT NOT DRINK COFFEE UNADORNED WITH THE CHRISTIAN DECORATIVE SNOWFLAKE NOR SHALL THY PURCHASE RED SWEATERS UNLESS THEY BE EMBROIDERED WITH RUDOLPH RIDING OVER THE MOON. AND IT WAS SO. Right2Liberty @Right2Liberty FolloW #RedCups What if I said you can choose NOT to be offended? #ItsJustACup #ItsNotPersecution 10:30 AM-9 Nov 2015 20 27

Also on November 9th, actor Rob Lowe tweeted his disapproval of the design along with the company's "#RaceTogether" campaign (shown below).[8]

Rob Lowe @RobLowe 15h Last word on the subject: I take my coffee with as much caffeine as I can get and with as little political agenda as I can get. 278819 Rob Lowe @RobLowe 16h Between their program to have baristas lecture me about race and now their removal of "Merry Christmas" I'm officially over @Starbucks #done 497 1K

Donald Trump's Response

During a campaign rally in Illinois on November 9th, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump flippantly proposed a boycott of Starbucks over the cup design:

"I have one of the most successful Starbucks, in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don't know. Seriously. I don't care. By the way: That's the end of that lease. But who cares? Who cares? Who cares?"

News Media Coverage

On November 9th, CNN broadcast a segment on the cups featuring an interview with Feuerstein, in which he explained his criticism of the cup design (shown below). The following day, the video reached the front page of the /r/cringe[9] subreddit, where it gathered more than 1,300 votes (91% upvoted) and 330 comments within 14 hours. In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the controversy, including CNBC,[10] The New York Times,[11] Forbes[12] and The Atlantic.[13]

Green "Unity" Cup Backlash

On November 1st, 2016, Starbucks introduced a new cup.[14] The cup, which is green and features a drawing of hundreds of different kinds of people linked by one continuous line, is meant to symbolize unity. "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," said CEO Howard Schultz.

The cup drew social media backlash, as conservatives accused Starbucks of attempting to push a liberal agenda, while others were upset that the cup, which they interpreted as a "holiday"-themed cup despite no indication of that from Starbucks, did not feature any mention of Christmas. The story drew the attention of Buzzfeed,[15] NBC, Fox News,[16] and more.

EHillary4Prison y Follow! RU @dishonestCNN @Starbucks ALL REPUBLICANS BOYCOTT STARBUCKS 11:08 AM-1 Nov 2016 #FuckHillary @RadioAnna Follow @Starbucks Screw you. My coffee should NOT (and does NOT) come with political brainwashing. I dropped @Starbucks like a hot rock. 11:00 AM 1 Nov 2016 Archie Bunker @ArchieBunker19 2: Follow @Starbucks stop pushing your liberal b------- and sell coffee. Lifelong customer becoming disgusted with the forced agenda. #HolidayCupsNow RETWEETS LIKES 11:43 AM-1 Nov 2016 £711 29 Reply to @ArchieBunker19 Starbucks Jazmine H @JazzHandd Follow RT if you think @Starbucks is trying to take Jesus out of Christmas with the new cup. Make this go viral so Starbucks makes cups red again

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