For the Record, News, Social Justice

Starbucks and their Watermelon Mug: A Mere Coincidence

By: Ruqayyah Taylor, staff reporter 

Howard University’s Students for Justice in Palestine protesting outside of Starbucks | Photo via @sjphowardu on Instagram

In the past few months, Starbucks has been under heat amidst claims of promoting and selling a watermelon-designed mug in their stores as a way to show a hint of solidarity with the people of Palestine and its supporters. 

Watermelon is a key symbol used to represent Palestinian liberation by and for Palestinians. The colors of the fruit (red, green, black, and white) are also the colors of Palestine’s flag. The recent usage of the symbol has started to become a sign for the “Free Palestine” movement. 

The controversy over the mug began in January when several individuals on social media claimed to have seen the watermelon-designed mug in stores at Starbucks. This led to confusion and uproar from consumers who are currently boycotting Starbucks because of what the watermelon symbolizes to Palestinians and the clear disfavor the corporation has past expressed toward the Starbucks union for supporting Palestine.

On Jan. 15, TikToker Deana Hassanein Soni posted a video, that has since gone viral, showing the mug being sold in stores and said, It’s giving desperate. 

The Starbucks boycott began in October during the ongoing Israeli-Hamas conflict. In short, Starbucks Workers United posted a tweet in solidarity with Palestine, which led to the coffeehouse corporation later suing the union due to the tweet being an act of “terrorism, hate, and violence.” 

Despite the claims, Starbucks’ watermelon-designed items are not related to Palestine or the Israel-Hamas conflict and have been out since May 2023, as a part of the U.K. summer collection. Their cup was also showcased on various social media pages this past spring. 

Although Starbucks may not be aiming to necessarily target and satisfy its boycotters, the company has professed that it is still “ethical.” 

A short statement was released by the corporation on Dec. 29 stating, “Our position remains unchanged. Starbucks stands for humanity. We condemn violence, the loss of innocent life and all hate and weaponized speech. Despite false statements spread through social media, we have no political agenda.”

May 13, 2024

About Author