How Starbucks Stole Christmas

Michael Beausoleil
4 min readDec 23, 2021

Go to church or rent a movie; it’s not hard to find the origin of Christmas. This story has been told many ways, but fewer people will tell the story of Christmas’s near-death experience. Perhaps this is because Christmas is still alive and well, but some people recall a time Starbucks tried to kill the holiday.

Each year, Starbucks will celebrate the season with a Christmas roast, festive beverages, and a holiday-themed cup. In 2015, we just got an undecorated red cup. No ribbons, wreaths, or snowflakes: just red.

By most accounts, red is a holiday color, so why was this year any different? It mostly pertains to the designs from prior years. These cups had trees, snowflakes, and snowmen. Again, these are holiday-related objects, but they’re not inherently Christmas.

Yet we’d be lying to ourselves if we said these objects remained culturally relevant on December 26th. The color red is still acceptable, but trees come down and Frosty has melted.

The War on Christmas

The controversy (if you want to call it that) begins with a 2015 Facebook video from a man named Joshua Feuerstein. When he saw the simple red cup, he saw an attack. Companies were erasing Christianity in favor of generic holiday observances.

Starbucks holiday cups from 2013 to 2015
Starbucks cups via Starbucks & adage

Feuerstein had millions of Facebook followers and his video received hundreds of thousands of likes. It achieved viral status, but it’s unclear if he was being sincere. His online persona was known for generating buzz by preaching hyper-conservative messages.

Of course, this reached a larger audience when then-future-president Donald Trump referenced the message at a rally in Illinois. Again, it’s unclear if he was being sincere. He is known for his conservative beliefs, but his name is also on multiple hotels with Starbucks stores inside.

Regardless of sincerity, some people clung onto this message. They believed companies were removing Jesus from their messaging and Christians were being prosecuted. Starbucks wasn’t the only culprit, but as a major brand with thousands of stores in the United States, they were the final straw.

Did Starbucks Actually Suffer?

Michael Beausoleil

User Analytics | Digital & Brand Marketing | Productivity … hoping to explore topics that interest me and find others with similar passions