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Why the First Starbucks Holiday Cup Was Purple, Not Red

Why the First Starbucks Holiday Cup Was Purple, Not Red

It wasn’t until two years later that the chain adopted its iconic red cup

Every year before Starbucks unveils its new holiday cup, the exact design is a mystery, but customers can almost always assume the foundation to be firetruck red. Illustrator Sandy Nelson, who was with Starbucks Creative Studio for 14 years, recalls the day her design was chosen.

“It was August, and I had just started with the company,” Nelson told Starbucks Newsroom. “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.”

Swirls and hand-drawn holly leaves cascaded down the cup’s exterior. It also came in sapphire, emerald, and amethyst. Nelson got to see her creation come to life when she saw it in-store on a visit to Anchorage.


“I remember seeing the cups piled high on the counter, and I realized ‘this is big,’” she said. “It was thrilling.”

It wouldn’t be for two more years that the cup adopted its signature red. In 1999, Starbucks creators settled on a vibrant shade of “candy apple” red with drawings of snowflakes, stockings, and other images that “evoked the spirit of the holiday.”


Starbucks’ red cups are a modern-day holiday fixture. People are so passionate about them that their designs often cause controversy. In 2015, people accused the company of participating in the “War on Christmas” because the cup’s canvas was plain red. But when the cups are too festive, many are quick to say that the chain is promoting one December holiday over the others. This year’s design features a pair of hands holding coffee, connected by swirling ribbons and cheerful holiday scenes with splashes of red and green. Most of the space is white — meant for patrons to color the cup however they’d like.

For more on the Seattle-based brand, here are 20 things you didn’t know about Starbucks.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, then you’re probably pretty aware of the whole red-cup-controversy Starbucks gets itself into every year. It’s kind of like tradition at this point. So, in honor of all things festive, we’ve decided to round up every Starbucks holiday cup we could find dating back to 1997.

On November 28, Starbucks released a brand-new holiday cup featuring a white heart framed by two hands coming together. Starbucks new design invites customers to dedicate their cup to the one person who “warms” their heart.

“The red cup is a clean design, with the heart as a space where people can highlight someone in their life who makes the season special,” Jordan Kay from Starbucks Creative Studio said in a statement. “The design symbolizes the love and warmth felt during the holiday season, when we connect with friends and family.”


Watch the video: Starbucks: It Starts With You (December 2021).