Starbucks Releases Second Holiday Cup

By: Mackenzie MacNeal ’18

Starbucks has released an additional holiday cup design this season that will be offered for a limited time only. According to USA Today, both cup designs were created by Jordan Kay of the Starbucks Creative Studio. In the past, Starbucks has featured multiple holiday designs, but they were always unveiled at the same time.

The new design portrays two hands enclosing a white heart in which consumers are encouraged to write the name of someone who fills their hearts. According to Buzzfeed, the original cup illustration for this holiday season stirred debate as to whether a featured set of intertwined hands on it belonged to a same-sex couple or a heterosexual couple. Starbucks advertised its new cups in a video that included a same-sex couple holding hands, so it is not inconceivable to assume the image on the cup design portrays a same-sex couple as well.

The New York Times reported that the company said in an email that it purposely did not specify the gender of the hands so customers could interpret the image for themselves. This is not the first time the company ended up in the middle of a controversy with its holiday cups. In 2015,  Starbucks decided to remove iconic holiday images, such as reindeer, from the cups to achieve a simpler design. The reason for this change, the company said, was to create a more inclusive and universal seasonal cup design.

Since the release of its holiday cups, Starbucks has been under an immense amount of pressure to create seasonal cup designs that meet the expectations of its customers. I do not see anything wrong with a more inclusive holiday season. Honestly, though, I would drink Starbucks hot chocolate out of anything because it’s so good.


Mackenzie MacNeal is a junior Advertising/Public Relations major. In her free time, she enjoys writing, tutoring, and participating in Marywood’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter.


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