23 years of Starbucks holiday cups reveal how the coffee giant's iconic red cup has transformed

StarbucksStarbucks’ holiday cups have returned.

If you’ve been to Starbucks recently, you have probably noticed the plethora of cheery holiday cups – including some wishing customers “Merry Coffee.”

Gone are the days of the simple red cup. Instead, Starbucks is determined to infuse November and December with seasonal cheer via a variety of festive and colourful designs. This year, Starbucks is serving drinks in a variety of different holiday cup designs.

“Our customers tell us they love the holidays and Starbucks holiday cups are a cue that the season is upon us,” Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said on a call with investors in 2018.

“Last year our stores didn’t sufficiently reflect the festive environment our customers know and love and have come to expect from us,” Brewer continued, referencing 2017’s weak holiday sales.

Business Insider rounded up Starbucks’ cup designs since 1997, revealing how much Starbucks’ “red cup” season has changed over the years.

Here is how this year’s cups compare to others throughout Starbucks’ history:

Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Starbucks’ holiday cups have faced a number of controversies.

In 2017, #BoycottStarbucks began trending after a conspiracy theory emerged that the chain’s holiday cups featured the hands of a lesbian couple.

In 2015, the chain’s minimalist red cups faced backlash after a video claiming that Starbucks “removed Christmas from their cups” went viral. The cups quickly became a topic of discussion for major publications, late-night talk show hosts, and even Donald Trump, then a presidential candidate.

“No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks,” Trump said at a a pre-debate rally in Springfield, Illinois, at the time. “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t care.”

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