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Starbucks Holiday Cup Controversy 2017

Controversy Is Brewing Over Starbucks's Annual Holiday Cups Yet Again

Image Source: Starbucks

Without fail, every year Starbucks receives a surprisingly significant amount of criticism over its annual holiday cups. The widespread coffee chain regularly receives backlash due to its ever-changing red cups and the lack of traditional Christmas symbols. This year, an illustration of two people holding hands has some people up in arms.

In October, Starbucks released a promotional video announcing the year's new red cup design. It features several adorable illustrated figures getting ready for the holidays or simply enjoying a cup of coffee. Since this year's cup is meant to be customized, the video also features text that reads, "The holidays mean something different to everyone." Weeks later, however, people started realizing that a pair of women in the video were presumed to be a lesbian couple.

As a joke, BuzzFeed asked its readers if the new cup was "totally gay." The article also pointed out the pair of gender-neutral hands holding each other on the cup. A colleague of the BuzzFeed writer was quoted in the article saying, "I can attest to the lesbianism of The Hands" — again, as a joke.


Then Fox News got word of it. The outlet included several tweets from people who were upset about the cup and planning on boycotting Starbucks. Fox News also referred to BuzzFeed's article and claimed the publication "asserted the hypothesis is fact," failing to fully grasp the sarcastic tone.

On Twitter, several people began using the hashtag #BoycottStarbucks and claimed the company was pushing its liberal or gay agenda onto consumers. Despite the many negative tweets, others online have also started using the hashtag to mock those upset about the pair of androgynous hands.

Following the hooplah, The New York Times reached out to Starbucks. Sanja Gould, a company spokeswoman, said, "This year's hand-drawn cup features scenes of celebrating with loved ones — whoever they may be," adding, "We intentionally designed the cup so our customers can interpret it in their own way, adding their own color and illustrations."

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