Before I knew what coffee was supposed to taste like, my friends and I used trot off to my nearest Starbucks almost every day (we thought we were très sophistiqué) after school, filling our gullets with 500 calories of “skinny” caramel macchiati (that’s the plural of macchiato, don’t cha know?) with extra cream and perhaps an extra shot or two of coffee and caramel.
I mean really – what is that? I reckon a Quarter Pounder and a large chocolate milkshake would have been healthier. Of course I was très sophistiqué so I would have probably ordered a Royale With Cheese.
Now of course, I have no cause to go to Starbucks, although I can happily admit to shoving a Royale with Cheese into my gob after a particularly frivolous night out.
But I did go this morning, after seeing a Facebook post by a colleague of mine pointing out what Starbucks’ newest “Red Cup” looks like. For those unfamiliar: one of Starbucks’ greatest marketing gimmicks is changing the colour of their cups from white to red every Christmas. I myself remember excitedly declaring to a friend how red cups heralded the beginning of Christmas.
Yes, I was, as most people are, seduced by modern, mass-marketing, which has trounced traditionalism and replaced it with corporate logos and non-threatening jingles. And today I returned to my old, caffeinated pooh bear (and the crowds made it feel like I was on the Hajj, too).
And what I found was deeply disappointing to macchiato-chugging me. The Red Cups (do I need a trademark symbol after that?) are now an anti-Christmas symbol, with Starbucks declaring their formerly Christmassy cups to be “holiday beverages” and shedding any sign of Christmas from them.
Have a look at what Starbucks Red Cups over the years looked like:
To the right is the 2009 offering. You can see distinct elements of Christmas, even if that means Christmas in a modern sense.
They lean heavily on stars (you know, like in the Nativity Story) and the background resembles the branches of a Christmas tree. All in all, a pretty good and acceptable design for something that self-defines as a Christmas-orientated product.
But 2009 was a long time ago, and since then the company has slowly, but definitely, moved away from Christmas, and Christian iconography.
To the left here, you’ll see the 2010 offering. Snowy, seasonal, at least it resembles something mildly festive and Western.
The same applies to the 2011 red cups, which have a dog sledging down a hill on the back of a snowman, snowflakes falling around them. It’s cute, really.
They stuck with snowmen for 2012, with a big one winking at you with a star in the background that year, and a sort of upmarket stars and baubles motif on their 2013 cups.
And then it all went south. Or east, maybe.
2014’s cups looked like a child scrawled on them with a marker pen. And not in a cute way. It was a distinct shift away from looking “Christmassy” (see right) before the monstrosity they’ve released this year (below).
And behold, Starbucks did conceive and bear a red cup, and called his name blasphemy:
I asked Starbucks why, but they just sent me a “factsheet” with their latest flavours and a link to their website where they’ve talked about wanting “to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
“We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s [a] more open way to usher in the holiday,” said their CEO.
You can see what’s going on here. More open? You mean, you’re trying not to “offend” anyone.
Frankly, the only thing that can redeem them from this whitewashing of Christmas is to print Bible verses on their cups next year.
Not that I’d buy their burnt coffee anyway. I hear you say. “Why do you care about what Starbucks is doing anyway? It’s crap coffee and none of us buy it.”
Sure, but plenty of people do. And subliminally, they’re being told/reminded that this time of the year is no longer about Christmas. It’s about the colour red, or something. It’s a “holiday season”. Don’t say Merry Christmas. It’s offensive.
And no, I’m not “reading too much into it”. This is happening. And it’s as disgusting as an Eggnog Latte.
Christian Purge? Starbucks Removes All Christmas References From Coffee Cups
Starbucks faces criticism from politicians and campaign groups today after it decided to remove all references to the festive season from its Christmas red cups
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:11-14 (KJV)
The coffee chain revealed this year’s version of its “red cups” this week – an annual tradition where it changes the colour of its cups from white to red around Christmas time, usually with a festive design.
This year, however, the chain has decided to remove all festive imagery from its cups and instead have a plain red cup.
Oh hello, #RedCups Welcome back. pic.twitter.com/eHfllRdLDt
— Starbucks UK (@StarbucksUK) November 3, 2015
Starbucks explained the design in a statement, saying: “Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We’re embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it. It’s a more open way to usher in the holiday.”
But, Tory MP David Burrowes has criticised the move. He told Breitbart London: “The Starbucks coffee cup change smells more of political correctness than a consumer-led change.
“The public has a common sense grasp on the reality that at Christmas time, whether you have a Christian faith or not, Britain celebrates Christmas.”
His concerns were echoed by Christian groups who branded them “scrooges” and accused them of trying to hide the religious message behind Christmas.
Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute told Breitbart London: “What is it about Christmas that Starbucks are afraid of celebrating? Haven’t they heard it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and the season of good will to ALL men? They should get involved and stop being scrooges.”
And more have piled in, with Andrea Williams of Christian Concern saying: “This is a denial of historical reality and the great Christian heritage behind the American Dream that has so benefited Starbucks.
“This also denies the hope of Jesus Christ and His story told so powerfully at this time of year.”