This morning, I popped into my local Starbucks before work, as is my wont. In handing me my cup, the barista handed me so much more than my skim and sweet grande green tea latte. He handed me a potent annual symbol: a red Starbucks cup. For those who don't know, this is the official sign that it is already "the holiday season," so you've probably already fallen behind in your preparations. Womp womp! Better luck next year. Anyway, hey! Red Starbucks cups are here!
Just as the Pumpkin Spice Latte (hallowed be thy name) has come to represent the coming of fall, so too have the Starbucks red cups come to symbolize our collective delving into Winter holiday merriment. It is a time when we talk of Christmas, of the "War on Christmas," of how the "War on Christmas" absolutely isn't real; of Santa, and of how Santa isn't real (which is crap, because of course he's real, you heathens). The red cups give us the green light on watching Elf and Love, Actually incessantly, and on listening to the "Holiday Music" station of our choice without being weird. It is the time of year where we groan a little less vociferously over the fact that "Oh my God! Christmas decorations already?" For those among us of the Jewish persuasion, the red cups showing up are a good indicator that you will soon have to explain to your non-Jewish friends (yet again) that Hanukkah, while fun, isn't the most religiously important holiday of the year for you. The red cups aren't just calorie-laden beverage carriers, dudes. They are positively laden with meaning.
Since 1997, the cups have held a lot of Peppermint Mochas and Gingerbread Lattes, and every year the design is revamped. In the past, the cups have been a bit... busy.
They have been adorned with jazzy little holiday ornaments, twee holiday quotes in a thoughtfully chosen font, and cheeky, winking snowmen. This year's design is, frankly, pretty elegant and cool. Simple. Red. Ombré. (Poppy to cranberry ombré to be precise, which, confession, I did not actually notice at first glace. Second glance makes this incredibly obvious.) Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks' vice president of design and content, gives us a peak into the decision to go more minimal this year:
"The ombré creates a distinctive dimension, fluidity, and weightedness... in the past, we have told stories with our holiday cup designs. This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories." He continues, "Starbucks has become a place of sanctuary during the holidays. We're embracing the simplicity and the quietness of it."
I mean, #truth, because who hasn't run into a Starbucks amid a flutter of last minute holiday shopping or decorating or family obligations because you just need a goddamn minute to decompress, goddamn it! Starbucks has become a national comfort food, and during the holiday season, we're not only busier and more stressed, but we have higher expectations for our level of coziness. The red cup provides, ladies and gents. Perhaps not as much as the delicious peppermint mocha (available at last!), but it's a nice visual cue, before you even take a sip, that you are about to be wrapped in a warm, comforting, metaphorical blanket and soothed with sugar, steamed milk, and a ton of caffeine.
Happy Red Cup Season, everyone!
Images: Starbucks(3); Jamie Kenney