By Uyen Nguyen
Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump are protesting Starbucks by buying from the coffee company.
Last week, Trump supporters started telling Starbucks employees that they want “Trump” written on their cups, eliciting the baristas to call out “Trump” when their order is ready.
It began Friday when Timothy Treadstone, alias “Baked Alaska,” tweeted the guidelines to the protest to his 125,000 followers.
His tweet reads:
1) Go to Starbucks & tell them your name is Trump
2) If they refuse take video
Pls share & spread the word”
#TrumpCup is not new hashtag, but it gained momentum after Treadstone’s tweet.
Treadstone told USA TODAY that he was prompted to start the self-proclaimed movement after watching a viral video that a white male Trump supporter recorded of a Starbucks barista refusing to write “Trump” on his cup while another barista called 911 on the man, who was shouting at the workers.
Is this protest counterintuitive?
It requires the protesters to go to Starbucks, order a drink and pay for it. So Starbucks essentially does not lose any revenue. Its stock this week has actually increased by 0.59 percent.
Oxford Dictionary defines a boycott as a verb meaning to “withdraw from commercial or social relations with (a country, organization, or person) as a punishment or protest,” such as “refus[ing] to buy or handle (goods) as a punishment or protest.”
#TrumpCup are asking followers to do the opposite of that.
After receiving criticism from some people on social media sites such as Twitter that #TrumpCup is not a boycott or protest, Treadstone told Breitbart News, a conservative website whose former chairman has just been appointed to the Senior White House Counsel in Trump’s administration, that “the media has twisted the narrative … This is a statement, not a protest.”
However, other major #TrumpCup supporters might feel differently.
Irma Hinojosa, a twitter user with more than 34,900 followers tweeted: “If we want Trump written on our cups don’t call the cops! Feel free to boycott Starbucks after this. Even Kanye wants to #MAGA! #TrumpCup.”
Breitbart used a picture of her tweet in the same article that featured Treadstone’s interview.
Starbucks’ political history
#TrumpCup isn’t the first time that Starbucks has received backlash from conservatives. In 2015, when Starbucks released their red holiday cups with the absence of Christmas decorations such as reindeer or ornaments, Joshua Feuerstein, a former pastor, posted a video to his Facebook page and called the cups a “war on Christmas.”
A Starbucks representative responded to the video by telling E! News that “our core values as a company is to create a culture of belonging, inclusion and diversity … we will continue to embrace and welcome customers from all backgrounds and religions in our stores around the world.”
Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz told CNN on Sept. 7 that he is a “lifelong Democrat” and also endorsed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in this year’s election, as well as President Barack Obama when he ran in 2008 and 2012.
In November 2015 during the primary election, Trump told a crowd in Springfield, Illinois, to “maybe boycott Starbucks.”
“I have one of the most successful Starbucks in Trump Tower. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks? I don’t know. Seriously, I don’t care. That’s the end of that lease, but who cares?” he said. “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying Merry Christmas again, that I can tell you. That I can tell you.”
Two baristas at a local Starbucks said #TrumpCup requests have not yet occurred at their store yet. If it does happen, they said they will write what the customer wants on their cup, but the Starbucks partners aren’t obligated to call out the name, so they can call out the drink order when it’s done.
“If the customer doesn’t come pick it up, then that’s on them,” one barista said.
The baristas chose to remain anonymous in order to protect the reputation of their company and store.
The baristas aren’t wrong: Starbucks responded to #TrumpCup and released a statement saying their workers do not need to call out the names written on the cups.
“Over the years, writing customer names on cups and calling out their names has been a fun ritual in our stores. Rarely has it been abused or taken advantage of,” the statement says. “We hope and trust that our customers will continue to honor that tradition. We don’t require our partners to write or call out names.”
Featured Photo Credit: Feature photo courtesy of Trump Cup Starbucks on Facebook.
Uyen Nguyen is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.