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‘Tis the Season for Starbucks Holiday Cups: Controversy or Just a Cup?

It is half-past “I need a Latte” o’clock and there is already a crisis brewing in Starbucks.

The two girls ahead of me in line—which snakes around the entire shop— are studying their drinks with knitted brows and pursed lips. It’s not that their names are spelled wrong or that their vanilla lattes are missing a pump of syrup.

It’s November 1st and the cups are not red.

They neglect to sip from the foamy lip and instead, cradle the cup; swiveling the foreign object around in their hands and searching for answers. I can see that its green, but I can’t make out the design until I hear, “Salted Caramel Mocha for Kelly” and I am greeted with a cup full of unfamiliar faces scribbled together with spindly black ink. Must be the holiday cups, I thought. I don’t know who these people are but this drink is damn good.

While the faces on your beverage seem like they’re staring through your soul at first sip, they are serving a purpose.

Once the black cat costumes are packed away and Michael Buble emerges from his cave, Starbucks releases their holiday cups. Traditionally, there is only one design and they are red. This year, however, as the campaign season comes to an end, the company wanted to release a political message that costumers could sip on and take with them to the polls.

The coffee kingdom unveiled the “green cup” designed with community faces drawn in one continuous line to show that we are all connected, no matter how polarizing or divisive the political stage can be.   

Unfortunately, the message was steamier than a flat white.  

Many took to twitter to voice their opinions, claiming the design was “political brain-washing” and it made their holiday beverages “less festive.”

The green cups didn’t make everyone see red.

Taking the campus’s temperature on the issue proved that the message was a non-issue for students. For most, the message didn’t leave a bad taste in their mouths.

“I think the concept of the single line is really cool,” said Macie Kramer ’17. “It honestly doesn’t matter—red or green—as long as the coffee inside the cup is the same.”

Maria Langenhorst ’17 agrees with the symbolic message.

“I think the message they’re sending is a very positive one and uniting people shouldn’t be seen as forcing politics on people, she said. “I can see how people would be put off by the timing, but the overall point is something I think everyone should be supportive of.”

If you’re not a fan of the green cups or an ounce more of political symbolism—take a deep breath—the red cups will be back post political shenanigans.

In the meantime, just enjoy the damn mocha and worry about the Venti problems.



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