The renowned red Solo cup made famous with its own country song may have to take a back seat to a new rising star that's getting all the attention this holiday season. It may not contain the spirits often associated with the red Solo, but Starbucks' new holiday coffee cup is bringing into question another kind of spirit — the Christmas spirit.
Since 1997, Starbucks has acknowledged the holiday season with a special cup, featuring nondenominational snowmen, reindeer, etc. This year it went for simple two-toned red ombré design. Some claim it's not festive enough, while others say it's the beginnings of a movement to take Christianity out of Christmas.
One Arizona evangelist posted a Facebook video on Nov. 5, saying, "Do you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of its brand-new cups. That's why they're just plain red." And many have used Facebook to complain.
For me, I didn't bother watching the video; it wasn't worth the minute and 18 seconds of my time. I also didn't comment on the Facebook banter.
People are just clamoring to stand up for something, especially when there is a perceived wrongdoing.
Does the cup really matter? Not to me; I was saved by Jesus, not a latte. But I couldn't help think this "cup uprising" is a nice deflection from animal husbandry, GMO production or any other ag practice often in the crosshairs of those convinced they have more knowledge after surfing the Internet than scientists.
I let it leave my mind. That is, until another Facebook post said, "What's all this about a red cup? What about castrating pigs without anesthesia?" Just like that, agriculture got tossed under the bus – most likely a red one.
At first I didn't make the connection. Where was this coming from? Did this have something to do with Joni Ernst, who is running for Iowa's open Republican seat in the U.S. Senate? In her first TV ad, she stated, "I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm."
While that may be part of it, I doubt it. As I dug deeper, I came across a Dec. 23 news release from the Humane Society of the United States saying Starbucks has pledged to do everything from phasing out gestation crates for pigs and cages for chickens to ending dehorning, tail docking and castration of animals without anesthesia.
I'm all about humane treatment of animals, but it's a hot cup of java to swallow to think a coffee company knows more about raising animals than industry professionals and scientists. Do you think Starbucks has researchers analyzing the costs, benefits and consequences of these actions, or how best to transition to change?
There's always room for improvement in everything we do. But Starbucks should stick to brewing joe, tea and foofoo drinks.
I wanted to support Starbucks' red-cup decision, but I'm no longer a patron. I'll brew a pot of coffee at home, throw in some Coffeemate Peppermint Mocha and pour it into a red mug. I just saved myself $6, and I feel pretty good about that for more than one reason.
Merry Christmas one and all!