The move stokes the controversy surrounding Starbucks’ holiday cup for this year. The coffee chain has been accused of being anti-Christian and overly politically correct because the container sports a simple red exterior, without any explicit reference to Christmas.
The introduction of Starbucks’ annual holiday cup has traditionally been a mega-event on social media among the chain’s hardcore fans. Headquarters noted that an Instagram photo of the 2014 cup was posted every 14 seconds during the first 48 of its rollout.
This year, the Nov. 1 introduction was met with anger and protests. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wondered aloud at a campaign stop if the public should boycot the chain. “No more Merry Christmas on Starbucks,” he told a crowd, though he added, “I don’t care.”
Starbucks issued a press statement on Wednesday, noting that the 2015 limited-time cup features a “classic Starbucks holiday red” and was purposely left unadorned with holiday symbols so patrons could doodle them on the cup themselves.
“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs,” said Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks’ VP of design and content. “This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”
Enter Dunkin’ with its holiday cup. The container is decorated with a wreath, a bit of gingerbread that did not go unnoticed on the internet. The website Delish called the introduction “an epic win over Starbucks.”
The timing suggests that Dunkin’s move was not calculated. It is using the limited-time cup as part of a year-end promotion that also brought the re-introduction for the holidays of peppermint mocha coffees.