Christmas Cup Controversy!!!
The Red Cups of Starbucks & The Media Frenzy They Have Created!
So if you’ve been online, had a TV on, or read a newspaper in the last 10 days you are already aware of the media frenzy surrounding those red cups!!! Every year, the day after Halloween, Starbucks begins to serve their coffee in a festive red cup instead of the plain white one they use the rest of the year. They begin to promote their special seasonal offerings by announcing “THEY’RE BACK” and for the first time in 10 months, a customer can order their favorite Christmas themed beverage. Perhaps you’re a Pepperment Mocha person, or maybe a Chestnut Praline Latte is more your style? Some swear by the Gingerbread Latte, and some prefer a Caramel Brulee Frappacino. Whichever you like, the famous RED CUP visually lets us know that it’s that time of year!
Every year, Starbucks debuts a new seasonal red cup design. A few of the past years are below for you to see. But, this year, Starbucks decided to go with a red cup with no design or graphics on it at all other than their logo. They went with a simple red ombre look (one shade of red blending softly into another shade of red toward the bottom). And THIS simple decision started the whole thing. One guy was so angry about the lack of design/graphics on the 2015 red cups that he took to social media with a video to share his anger and get the rest of the world on board. He declared that Starbucks took CHRISTMAS out of the Christmas Season by going with a simple red cup. Yep, this made him so angry that he called for everyone to BOYCOTT Starbucks!!! How dare they take Christmas OFF their cups?
Well sir, I hate to be the one to tell ya, but CHRISTMAS wasn’t actually ever ON the cup!!! As you can see above, the cups of previous years have had ornaments with “wish” & “hope” & “joy” and similar words, winter scenes, snow, snowmen, a child and a dog sledding down a mountain, and more simple red/white swirly designs, but NEVER has the cup said “MERRY CHRISTMAS” or “JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON” or “YOU CAN ONLY DRINK STARBUCKS IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN!!!”
I had been hearing about this on the news and online and then about 2 days into the controversy, I saw on the Catholic Youth Ministers facebook group page a fellow youth minister by the name of Edward Czajkowsky mention it. BINGO….YOUTH GROUP NIGHT TOPIC!!! This was on Tuesday, November 10th. By Wednesday, November 11th I had started planning my night and had already decided that besides a discussion, I was going to give them all a red cup and a sharpee and have them design their own cups!!! Later that day, while browsing my personal facebook newsfeed, I happend to see someone share a clip of Stephen Colbert weighing in on the topic. HILARIOUS! Perfect to show my teens during my meeting. By Thursday, I had decided to give a red cup to all of the other church staff members here and have them design a cup to use as examples to my teens. I had church secretarys, deacons, and our priests all design one. Then, again just scrolling through my personal facebook newsfeed, 2 more videos popped up that had been shared by friends. 2 more awesome opinions and perfect to show my teens!!! I had also seen a comment by another fellow youth minister named Tammy Miller Buttrum on the Catholic Youth Ministers group page where she described a sweet story about her granddaughter. She said that when her granddaughter was just learning to talk, they were passing a starbucks one day and her granddaughter pointed and said, “MARY!” Out of the mouth of babes…..her granddaughter thought that the Starbucks logo looked like The Blessed Mother and she says that to this day, even though her granddaughter is now in 6th grade, they still think of The Blessed Mother when they see a Starbucks logo.
So, with all this info and more and more public opinions online and on the news…..Here is how I ran my meeting….
First, we started talking about the basic controversy and about how 1 guy started all this fuss. I showed them the photo of past Starbucks cup designs and we discussed that a bit. I also had collected cups from Dunkin Donuts & Einstein Bros Bagels earlier that day to compare with the Starbucks cups. Dunkin Donuts has a red and green wreath with the word JOY in the middle. In addition, all of the writing on the cup is red and green. Einstein Bros has a JOLLYVILLE theme which is decorated throughout their store/restaurant as well as on the cups. It’s a twist on Santa’s toy workshop with the workshop making bagels and the elves are actually bagels with santa hats and reindeer antlers making other bagels on the assembly line.
Without getting into too much serious discussion, I showed them the following three videos in this order. I highly recommend showing all three for varied opinions and a bit of laughter!
All three are great and my teens enjoyed every one of them!
Once the videos were shown, I gave each teen a red plastic (solo) cup and a sharpee. I instructed them that they were to design a seasonal cup for their coffee shop (hypothetically) and that every customer would receive their beverage in this cup throughout the season. Since it was their shop, they could put WHATEVER they wanted to on their cup. I gave them a bit of time to do this. I also had lined up on a table the staff created cups and had each teen vote for their favorite by putting 1 piece of candy in the one they liked the best. (I’m saving them to bring to our staff Christmas party where we will all drink out of them and I will announce the winner).
Once they finished designing their cups, we went around the room with each teen describing what they had on their cups and why. A good amount of my teens put symbols of every religion on their cups so that no one felt excluded. Quite a few were simple winter scenes. And the rest were Christmas specific. All had valid reasons for how they designed their cup. Here are a few examples of their designs…
The discussion continued with these talking points….
-What do you think of the Controversy?
-Should stores/restaurants have seasonal branding?
-Stores set up Christmas decorations earlier every year. This year, many were up before Halloween. Stores want us to come in and do our Christmas Shopping. They are filled with Christmas Decor like trees and wreaths and ornaments and nativity sets for us to purchase, but many have generic ‘seasonal / winter’ decor up in the stores. What do you think of this? Is it a mixed message?
-Cashiers and store employees are supposed to say “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” instead of more specific Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah etc. What do you think of this?
-Are you offended when someone says “Happy Holidays” to you instead of “Merry Christmas?”
-What do you think about the priest who said that the red cup, with or without a design, gives us the general feeling of the holidays without being specific?
-If the red cup controversy comes up in discussion with one of you friends or at school, what would you say?
It turned out to be a great night and was super easy to prepare for. I’m sure, if you decide to discuss it with your teens, you will find some interesting thoughts and discussion come out of it.
As we approach Thanksgiving and fully come into the SEASON….I wish you joy & blessings….
SHORT LINES AT STARBUCKS!!!