Behind the Doodle: What Makes the 2016 Starbucks Holiday Cups so Special


Countries selected were Indonesia, The United States, The United Arab Emirates, Canada, Russia, and South Korea.

Emma Holtz '20, Staff Writer

You know it’s the holiday season when Black Friday sales begin to bombard television ads, the radio stations blast Christmas hits, and Starbucks unveils their new line of holidays cups to illustrate the return of the joyful season. The red cups at Starbucks have a rich history, for better or worse.

The red holiday cups were first introduced by Starbucks in 1997 and have continued every year since. Many years, the cup designs have signaled the upcoming celebrations of the holidays with bold colors and modern, geometric designs. Other years, Starbucks has unveiled cups with softer and more nostalgic designs, such as snowflakes, reindeer, or ornaments. However, the 2015 season brought controversy when the decision to not decorate the cups with ornate designs was announced to the general public. This sparked outrage with many customers, including Joshua Feuerstein, a social media personality and devout Christian, who had the barista write “Merry Christmas” on his cup when asked for his name. With the hashtag #MerryChristmasStarbucks trending, many routine customers began boycotting Starbucks for its lack of holiday spirit and Christmas cheer. With the criticism soon dissipating, the 2016 Starbucks Creative Team made the unprecedented decision to illustrate what the holidays truly mean through the eyes of their customers.

The contest for the cups began, and customers began to send in pictures of their own cup drawings to the Team for consideration. Then, certain customers were asked to mail in their cups for evaluation for potential production with very little change made to each of the original cups. In the end, 13 customer-made designs were selected from six countries around the world to stock the Starbucks shelves for the 2016 holiday season. These cups were debuted in over 25,000 stores in 75 countries on November 10, 2016 for the world to see. As the holiday season kicks into high gear, this year’s Starbucks red cups are sure to make headlines again, just maybe for a better cause.