Photo courtesy of Starbucks

They're somewhat more Christmas-y

Tim Nelson
November 01, 2018

Perhaps because people of all party affiliations regard coffee as one of life’s necessities, Starbucks has become something of a political battleground. But even before Starbucks got two men of color arrested for no reason or conservatives tried to trigger baristas by forcing them to write “Trump” on their Frappuccinos, the coffee chain’s holiday cups have been treated as a major front in the never-ending War on Christmas.

And if this year’s cups are any indication, the stalemate is set to continue. With Halloween in the rearview mirror and the Zombie Frappuccino retired for the season, the coffee giant has officially unveiled its designs for the holidays. This year, they’ve opted for a fairly traditional Christmas color palette of red, white, and green throughout four designs. But beyond the colors and one look that resembles mistletoe, the designs are about as aesthetically non-denominational as holiday artwork can get.

According to Starbucks, though, there’s a deeper meaning behind each design. The “mistletoe” cup actually depicts coffee cherries, the two-tone take on their iconic red cup is a nod to wrapping paper, and the funky red and white cup is a representation of whatever the hell “espresso houndstooth” is supposed to be.

Even with those somewhat abstract inspirations, this year marks a return to what could be considered a more “traditional” look after a deviation from the seasonal norm for Starbucks in 2017. Last year’s design involved a series of white cups with doodles that patrons were invited to color in, an attempt to convey that the holidays mean something different to everyone, or something.

It was a noble idea, but one that Starbucks COO Roz Brewer admitted to CNN “didn't resonate with some,” likely the same Christmas freaks and conservatives who’ve been yelling about the cups since more overt Christmas iconography was first removed back in 2015. This time around, "we listened to our customers," Brewer said, noting that they "loved the tradition of Christmas."

The end result is Starbucks’ attempt to walk the tightrope between too much and too little Christmas in the hopes that nobody will yell at them. Given that their reusable “holiday” cups didn’t really signify anything at all, you’ve gotta admit that these not-super-sustainable cups at least come closer to the mark.

So did Starbucks do enough to avoid a Fox News-led boycott? Who knows! You probably shouldn’t waste any time yelling about them either way. There are probably more worthy targets of your impotent rage at these days.

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