Starbucks Holiday Cups For The Past 20 Years with Two New Ones for 2017

UPDATED: In addition to the color-in holiday cup, Starbucks has given in to public demand for a traditional “Red Cup”, so Starbucks has just released a second one for 2017! Read on for details.

Starbucks has just released their 2017 Holiday Cup and this year they are capitalizing on the coloring book trend with line art that you can embellish with color yourself. This is their 20th iteration of the Holiday Cup which has been, preposterously, the subject of controversy in the past and present. Let’s take a look at all the Holiday Cups for the past two decades.

20 Years of Starbucks Holiday Cups

20 years of Starbucks Holiday cups
The color-in 2017 Starbucks Holiday cup
Examples of colored-in 2017 Starbucks Holiday Cups

In addition to the color-in holiday cup, Starbucks has given in to public demand for a traditional “Red Cup”, so Starbucks has just released a second one for 2017 (shown below). Read on for more.

2017 Starbucks Red Cup offered as an alternative

For 20 years, the return of the Starbucks holiday cups have marked the arrival of the season. It’s a ritual for many that’s as beloved as that first sip of Peppermint Mocha.

It’s not easy to find the very first Starbucks holiday cups, which made their debut in stores in 1997. Few were saved, and electronic design files were lost in an earthquake in 2001. Even an Internet search is unyielding, with the cups having made their arrival long before the first selfie.

Luckily, designer Sandy Nelson, a Starbucks alumna, stashed away a set of these cups, along with other artifacts from her 14 years working in Starbucks Creative Studio. She remembers the design fondly, one of her first assignments at Starbucks.

“It was August, and I had just started with the company,” Nelson said. “We were working on holiday creative for the season to come. We had what felt like a hundred cup designs pinned up on the wall. Then Howard [Schultz] came by, looked at all of them, and picked my design. I couldn’t believe mine was chosen.”

Starbucks 1997 holiday cups (photo by Joshua Trujillo, Starbucks)

That first cup wasn’t really red – at least not the holiday red that Starbucks has become known for. It was closer to a magenta, and the cup also came in three more colors: sapphire, emerald and amethyst. The design featured swirls and hand-drawn holly leaves that were flecked with coffee beans.

Over two decades, Starbucks holiday cups became emblematic of the holiday, with designs that reflect the joy of the season with scenes of celebration and gathering. That shade of red was the foundation for the cups, the canvas for each creation that has evolved over the years.

To see the competition winners from Starbucks White Cup Challenge, go here

The cup became a symbol of the holidays, the anticipation growing with each passing year. Over the years, online countdown clocks have sprung up as speculation builds on social media. It is now a fixture in popular culture, the star of both morning talk shows and late night stand-up routines. Passions for the cup have run so high that even the design could become controversial, as it did in 2015 when Starbucks introduced a modern two-toned, ombré red design.

The Starbucks 2017 Color-In Holiday Cup

The initial 2017 design echoes themes from cups of years past with intimate moments connected by swirls of red and white. But this time the coloring book inspired design leaves room for customers to add their own color.

The Starbucks 2017 Holiday Red Cup

2017 Starbucks Red Cup offered as an alternative

The second Starbucks 2017 Holiday Cup, a traditional “Red Cup”, was released on Nov. 28. Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio, illustrator of this year’s first-ever color-in Starbucks holiday cup, also created the hand-drawn design for the red holiday cup.

The alternative cup also encourages adding your own artwork

For a limited time, Starbucks stores around the world will serve beverages in a new red holiday cup, featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. By introducing this cup, Starbucks encourages customers to recognize those who fill their heart and embody goodness this holiday season by writing that person’s name in the heart of the cup. Customers can then share their dedicated cup on social media with the hashtag #GiveGood.

Gwen Stefani and the new Starbucks Holiday Red Cup

(info courtesy of Heidi Peiper for Starbucks Newsroom)

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