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Starbucks brings back Christmas cups

Coffee company aims to play it safe this year

A Starbucks sign is show on one of the companies stores in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
A Starbucks sign is show on one of the companies stores in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

It’s after Halloween, which means it’s time for Starbucks to release its yearly holiday cup designs.

On Thursday, Starbucks dropped the designs online, announcing four colorful cups and a larger, reusable one available Friday.

The cups are a shift for Starbucks, which has faced controversy based on its cup choices.

The chain removed traditional winter and Christmas symbols from its cups in 2015, when it began using a plain red background.

The move sparked outrage and threats of a boycott from those who saw the shift as part of an effort to whittle away at Christmas, CNN reported.

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” Jeffrey Fields of Starbucks said at the time. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

But that wasn’t the end of it.

The chain largely avoided controversy in 2016 by featuring designs submitted by its customers, which included winter and Christmas designs.

But in 2017, one of its cups showed two people holding hands. BuzzFeed and others suggested that the ambiguous hands belonged to a lesbian couple, prompting more controversy and claims that Starbucks was promoting a “gay agenda.”

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Starbucks declined to clarify whether the hands did belong to a lesbian couple, the New York Times reported.

This year, Starbucks appears to be playing it safe. These cups lean into Christmas again through color and design. Red, white and green are front and center, with holiday ribbon, stars and (coffee) berries displayed on the sides.

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