Starbucks’ tradition of refusing to distribute a coffee cup that wishes customers a simple “Merry Christmas” is now continuing into 2019.
In the place of the classic Yuletide greeting, Starbucks’ 2019 holiday cups come with varying designs, including several that narrowly avoid embracing the season with a “Merry Coffee” motif.
Although likely envisioned as a cutesy play on a holiday saying, the flagrant subversion of a traditional Christmas message is coming from a company that has repeatedly refused to even use the word “Christmas” on its disposable cups.
Starbucks began revealing its holiday designs Wednesday on its Twitter account.
✨Turn on your cheer – the holidays are back tomorrow, Nov. 7! Purchase a handcrafted holiday beverage and get a #Reusable #RedCup free. Hurry – only at participating stores in the U.S. & Canada while supplies last.✨ pic.twitter.com/38856oRAZ2
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) November 6, 2019
On Peppermint! On Toasted White Chocolate! On Caramel Brulée! Holiday favorites are back! pic.twitter.com/Xg2JJK8wz3
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) November 7, 2019
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) November 8, 2019
While the company appears to be trying not to offend people from any group, the avoidance of Christmas imagery and wording has historically caused problems for Starbucks.
Perhaps the best-remembered incident is the coffee chain’s decision to distribute red cups to customers in 2015.
The internet exploded over the decision, with critics slamming Starbucks on social media for allegedly trying to erase Christmas. A video posted by a former pastor in Arizona roasting the company for the design only fanned the flames.
The video instantly went viral, prompting Starbucks to issue a response.
“Starbucks is inviting our customers to tell their Christmas stories in their own way, with a red cup that mimics a blank canvas,” the company said in a statement to NBC’s “TODAY” during the controversy.
“Over the past few years, our customers have been showcasing their work on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and we even held a contest to support this creativity. This year’s design is another way we are inviting our customers to create their own stories on our cups.”
“In response to the video, our core values as a company is to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity.”
Oddly enough, the company at one time did offer customers the ability to buy gear proudly emblazoned with the term “Merry Christmas,” but that opportunity appears to have gone the way of the dinosaur.
If Starbucks’ blank coffee cups caused such a stir over the alleged anti-Christian sentiment inherent in the design, the “Merry Coffee” cups are virtually guaranteed to cause similar outrage.
While the company continues to aim for diversity, these newest designs risk alienating those who hold Christmas near and dear.
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