One of the primary targets in the so-called “War on Christmas” in U.S. cultural politics has been Starbucks. In 2015, the company came under fire after a viral video claimed that the popular coffee chain was “taking Christ and Christmas” off of its red Starbucks holiday cups, which were first introduced in 1997. The video also claimed that the company wasn’t allowing employees to say “Merry Christmas.” Both of these claims were false.
I cannot believe this red cup Starbucks stuff is actually happening. For Christ's sake (ha), buy their damn CHRISTMAS BLEND coffee!!
— Matt BP 🥁 (@mbp____) November 11, 2015
— Anne Happel (@AnneHappel) November 13, 2015
— Marie (@ElloHoneyBee) November 11, 2015
It is true that Starbucks has sold “Christmas Blend” coffees since 1984. On Nov. 5, 2020, Heidi Peiper blogged “the story behind Starbucks Christmas Blend” on Starbucks’ website, writing: “The original Christmas Blend, introduced in 1984, has been a holiday tradition at Starbucks even longer than the Peppermint Mocha or red holiday cups.”
When Starbucks first introduced Christmas Blend, it was packed into plain brown paper bags to be brewed at home. But as Starbucks transformed from a whole-bean retailer to a coffeehouse, its bags became vessels for visual storytelling starting with decorative adhesive stamps and later with higher tech packaging that uses a printed laminated film, called “rollstock,” with a FlavorLock™ seal to help the beans to taste fresh longer. The new rollstock packages offered a larger canvas for sharing each coffee’s unique story through images and words. Christmas Blend could wrapped as a treasured gift – bedecked with boughs of holly, snow-filled scenes, or shimmering ornaments – along with tasting notes and brewing tips from the blend’s creators.
In 2020, the company sold a Christmas Blend, Decaf Christmas Blend, Christmas Blend Espresso Roast, Starbucks Holiday Blend, and Starbucks Reserve Christmas 2020.
This year’s Christmas Blend has all the sweetness and spice of the original, with notes of herbs, baking spices and a velvety rich chocolate finish. The 2020 blend features dark-roasted beans from Guatemala, Colombia and Papua New Guinea that come together to highlight the hero of this cup: rare aged Sumatra. The bag’s botanical design features coffee cherries and leaves that are reminiscent of holly.
— Jennifer Patterson (@thatjenny) December 12, 2015
Asked the starbucks guy what the difference is Btwn the holiday blend and the Christmas blend.. He said one was politically correct…
— Caroline Eaton (@caroline_eaton) December 5, 2010
Starbucks makes a "Holiday Blend" & a "Christmas Blend." The difference between them? The packaging.
— Alexandra Mohilowski (@alexandramichel) November 22, 2009
The Starbucks “Holiday Blend” is a bit different from the Christmas Blend:
In 2013, Starbucks wanted to offer customers a unique medium-roast blend for the holidays and created a recipe that also features bright Latin American and smooth Indonesian coffees. The result is an elegant flavor with layers of maple and herbal notes that are balanced with a medium acidity and body. The packaging captures the coffee’s mellow vibe, you can almost see the languid swish of the Siren’s tail in the bag’s plum-colored design.
In 2020, Starbucks launched its annual holiday products on Nov. 6, promising customers will be able to “enjoy the comforts of the season at Starbucks stores in the United States and Canada with a flurry of seasonal favorites, including Peppermint Mocha, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Brulee Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte and Eggnog Latte, along with new holiday cups, food items and gifts.”