The coffee chain will also be giving out free reusable red cups again for a limited time
They’re here! The new Starbucks holiday cups, that is.
After teasing the cups impending return for days on social media, the coffee company confirmed they are officially coming back to Starbucks stores throughout the U.S. and Canada starting Thursday, Nov. 7. And they really delivered this year.
The new holiday cups will come in four new designs: Polka Dots, Merry Dance, Merry Stripes, and Candy Cane Stripe. According to the official press release, they’re meant to “evoke mini moments of joy for our customers and partners – it’s fun, festive and uniquely Starbucks.”
The cups will debut alongside holiday drink flavors Peppermint Mocha, Toasted White Chocolate, Caramel Brulee Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte, and Eggnog Latte. Basically, there’s a little something for everyone.
The Polka Dots design is a take on the traditional Starbucks red cup, but it’s dotted with green circles and features the famous Starbucks siren logo in multiple spots on the cup; The Merry Dance cup takes a white cup and covers it with an overlay of red and green letters that spell out MERRY COFFEE over and over again; The Merry Stripes design is made with a dark green cup and features small white lettering that wraps around the cup and spells out MERRY COFFEE again; Lastly, the Candy Cane Stripes cup is painted with red and white stripes, and the Starbucks wordmark “falls like snow” in large green lettering.
That’s not all. Back again this year are Starbucks limited-edition reusable red cups, which will be handed out to customers who order a holiday beverage on Thursday. If you bring back your new reusable cup after 2 p.m. through January 7, you can get 50 cents off a grande holiday beverage of your choice. They sold out within minutes at some locations last year, so be prepared to be first in line if you want to snag one this year.
Holiday food and bakery menu items are also back for a limited time, including the Holiday Turkey & Stuffing Panini, Cranberry Bliss Bar, Snowman Cookie, Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop, Snowman Cake Pop, and more.
Starbucks holiday cups have been scrutinized ever since the original cup controversy in 2015. Need a refresher? Back then, conservative Christian evangelist Joshua Feuerstein loudly criticized Starbucks for what he believed was a “war on Christmas.” Donald Trump was still a presidential candidate when he acknowledged the “counter-war” and pointed to the coffee chain’s newest plain-red version of the holiday cups as an example of a growing anti-Christmas sentiment. He also declared that he wouldn’t be renewing the Starbucks lease in Trump Tower as a form of protest.
In numerous statements, Starbucks denied claims that their cups were representative of any opposition toward Christmas. “We introduced what we thought was a spectacular, beautiful, emblematic red cup,” former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said at the time. “Unbeknownst to us, there were a number of people who decided that Starbucks perhaps was not in the Christmas spirit and that created quite a storm…”
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The next year, Starbucks introduced a green cup featuring “a mosaic of more than a hundred people, drawn in one continuous stroke.” It was meant to be “a symbol of unity,” Schultz explained. Regardless of the change in design and the apparent attempt to be more inclusive, the 2016 edition of the cup once again faced backlash from conservatives.
The 2017 cups were far less controversial and by 2018, the entire fiasco finally seemed to die down. Starbucks released four new holiday cups, similar to this year’s designs, that were definitely at least subtly Christmas-themed. As a result, all was quiet on the Twitter front, so it likely will be again this year — but only time will tell.