Starbucks Holiday Cups, Once a Flash Point in the ‘War on Christmas’, Are Now a Meme

The annual Starbucks holiday cups, this year’s version of which were released Thursday, became a cultural flash point in 2015 and have since transformed into a meme. / Starbucks

The annual Starbucks holiday cups have been released, and there’s not a Christmas tree or Santa icon to be found.

Cue the outrage – or not.

The cultural conversation around the seasonal cups has come a long way since 2015. That year, a self-described “evangelist” accused the coffee vessels of fomenting a new front in a “war on Christmas,” and right-wing outlets from Fox News to Breitbart amplified his claims. The allegation immediately fueled more mockery than sympathetic indignation.

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Six years later, the release of the 2021 cups – replete with images of ribbons and gift tags – was met Thursday with gleeful witticisms about how this year’s battle to ruin the monumental Christian holiday could finally begin.

“BREAKING: Starbucks releases their holiday cups” one person wrote on Twitter. “The first shots have been fired signaling the war on Christmas has begun.”

It’s no surprise that the Starbucks holiday designs would spark dialogue. Consumers are drawn to the cups because the tradition is dependable and novel, said Margaret Campbell, a marketing professor at the University of California at Riverside. Making fun of the niche anger about them is another way to engage.

“I think we’re in a time as a society where culture wars can flare around anything that’s seen as perhaps an indicator of you being on one side or the other,” Campbell said. “And yet at the same time, I think the reason people are joking about it is because it’s a Starbucks cup. It is not a war on Christmas.”

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SOURCE: Greenwich Times; The Washington Post, Marisa Iati

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