When Starbucks' executives this week announced a first-ever decision to go with a minimalist style on the company's 2015 iconic, red holiday cups, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump suggested consumers boycott the coffee mogul for leaving off Christmas-associated images - even the Starbucks in his own Trump Tower.
Trump told 10,000-plus campaign rally attendees in Springfield, Ill., on Nov. 9, if he becomes president: "We're all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you. Unbelievable."
He referenced at the rally the unfolding story that "Starbucks is taking Merry Christmas, no more Merry Christmas. Did you read about Starbucks? I wouldn't buy."
Some Christians quickly shared through social media platforms they believed the Starbucks' red cup example is a further cleansing of the Christmas holiday from popular culture.
Former Starbucks' holiday cup designs featured Christmas trees, reindeer, snowmen, poinsettias and other seasonal symbols. This year's holiday cup is simply red, with the Starbucks' logo.
In 1997, when Starbucks had 1,400 stores and was just beginning to expand into Japan and Singapore, the first two countries outside the United States and Canada, the Starbucks' creative team tried a new design for its cups to generate excitement during the holiday season. The theme for that holiday was "Give in to the Rhythm," and the festive red cups punctuated the jewel-toned palette of deep reds, greens, blues and yellows and a jazzy Santa.
Every year since, the cup has told a story of the holidays by featuring symbols of the season from vintage ornaments and hand-drawn reindeer to modern vector-illustrated characters, as explained in a Nov. 8 Starbucks' news release. Starbucks now has 23,000 retail stores in 68 markets around the world.
Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks vice president of design and content, said the new cup features a two-toned ombré design meant to be bright and exciting. "This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories."
However, Trump addressed Starbucks' controversial cup decision by saying "maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don't know. Seriously."
Saying he was speaking against himself because the Trump Tower-based Starbucks' franchise in Manhattan is successful, he alluded to eliminating the business relationship: "By the way, that's the end of that lease, but who cares?"
In a Facebook video post that went viral on Nov. 7, Arizona-based evangelist Joshua Feuerstein claimed Starbucks wanted to take Jesus Christ and Christmas off of their holiday cups, and that Starbucks' employees can't say "Merry Christmas" to customers, due to political correctness run amok. He encouraged fellow Christians to start a movement by answering that their name is "Merry Christmas" every time they order a drink at Starbucks so that the phrase would be written on the cups. Then he prompted them to take a selfie photo with the Christmas-branded cup and post it to social media. The Facebook video has been seen more than 12 million times, and now has received 185,607 "likes" and 512,310 "shares." He tagged the trending topic as #MerryChristmasStarbucks. He also posted on Tuesday: "Thank you Donald J. Trump for standing with me and joining TEAM CHRISTMAS!"
Conversely, on the same day as Trump's campaign rally comments, actress Candace Cameron Bure responded with a Facebook posting debunking the alleged Starbucks "War on Christmas." At press time, her following stance received nearly 275,000 "likes," about 75,000 "shares" and 16,000 comments.
"It's a red cup, folks," she stated.
"Until Starbucks puts a baby Jesus or nativity scene on the cup while saying Merry Christmas, then pulls it because they say it's offensive, let's talk. I don't remember Starbucks ever being a Christian company, do you?"
Bure, also an author and inspirational speaker, added: "A Santa, a snowflake, some holly, a polar bear, some jingle bells or plain red cup don't define Christmas for me as a Christian. My relationship with Jesus does. So, I will joyfully sip on my Starbucks coffee, in a plain red cup, and instead of complaining about the lack of decorations, I will lovingly share the good news of Jesus Christ with friends and co-workers or anyone who's willing to engage in conversation. Merry Christmas to all!"
"If we boycotted every company that doesn't celebrate Christmas, say 'Merry Christmas,' or wasn't a 'Christian' business, we'd all be making our own clothes and growing our own food," answered Janet Singleton Reynolds on Bure's Facebook timeline. "Go out into this world (even to those 'forbidden' businesses) and show others the love of Christ. You may have more of an impact than you'll ever realize."
Julie Spedale-Holley Koss responded to Bure's post with: " Candace Cameron Bure - 2015 using this (Bure's original post) as my quote for the year, thanks Candace Cameron Bure for reminding us all that it's about our personal relationships with Christ that matters."
Starbucks communicated in a statement the plain red cup allows for customers to put their own drawings and messages on it.
In a recent interview with Cliff Sims on Yellowhammer Radio, Trump said he goes out of his way to use the word 'Christmas:' "There's an assault on anything having to [do] with Christianity. They don't want to use the word 'Christmas' anymore at department stores. There's always lawsuits and, unfortunately, a lot of those lawsuits are won by the other side."
Trump has been called a bold Christian conservative, and in August proclaimed his favorite book is The Bible.