Starbucks has seen social media backlash this week after a brouhaha involving an evangelical disparaging the company’s minimalist holiday cup design this year.
Josh Feuerstein, an Arizona-based evangelist, took to social media to complain that the Seattle brewer “removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus.” He even urged others to buy coffee at Starbucks and tell baristas that their name is “Merry Christmas” to manually insert the holiday back onto the cup. The kerfuffle led Donald Trump to comment on perhaps starting a boycott, and for a group to urge evangelicals to buy their joe from Dunkin’ Donuts.
However, the Starbucks cup design isn’t radically different from previous years: a look back at several years’ worth of red cups found no mention of “Merry Christmas.”
In previous years, the closest graphic Starbucks had to celebrating Jesus’ birthday were cartoon figures and snowmen caroling, and drawings of ornaments (alongside other, more general designs). The cups have also featured scenes in which pine trees and reindeer-esque animals appear.
Many have featured generic wintry, holiday activities, such as a couple figure skating along with the phrase, “When we’re together/ I know I’ll never fall,” or a boy and dog sledding with the words, “Let’s rediscover/ Why we’re best friends.”
However, the cups over the past five years have been making a notable shift toward less busy designs and defined scenes, moving away from the cartoon characters and into the realm of more generic graphics.
The fact-checking website Politifact, which first reported on the lack of Christmas wishes on Starbucks cups, gave the claim that they had been removed a rating of “pants on fire.”
Take a look at how the Starbucks holiday cups have changed over the years: