Donald Trump threatens Starbucks boycott over Christmas cups

A red Starbucks cup.
A red Starbucks cup.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump has addressed a controversy brewing over Starbucks' decision to leave Christmas motifs off its red holiday cups, suggesting that Americans should boycott the coffee giant.

Starbucks recently unveiled its minimalist new cups, and the absence of snowflakes, reindeer and other holiday symbols used in past years has caused a minor uproar online, where critics blasted the company as a scrooge waging a war on Christmas.

Vice-president of design and content Jeffrey Fields said in a statement that the streamlined, basic red design reflects how the company was "embracing the simplicity and the quietness" of the season.

That seemed almost too good for Trump, who has built his campaign on brash bluster, to pass up.

"I have one of the most successful Starbucks, in Trump Tower," he told a large crowd at his campaign rally on Monday night (Nov 9) in Springfield, Illinois.

"Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don't know. Seriously, I don't care," he added. "By the way, that's the end of that lease but who cares."

As he navigates the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump is courting evangelical Christians who play an outsized role in early-voting states, particularly Iowa and South Carolina.

Complaints, often from conservative quarters, that the United States is facing a war on Christmas are heard just about every year, as people lament what they describe as efforts to diminish the religious aspects of the holiday.

"If I become president, we're all going to be saying 'Merry Christmas' again - that, I can tell you," Trump assured.

Starbucks is still selling its brightly packaged "Christmas blend" coffee, "Merry Christmas" gift cards, and its holiday-themed peppermint mochas and chestnut praline lattes.