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Fact Check-Red Krampus-design coffee cup created by tattoo artist, not Starbucks, in 2015

Social media users are sharing images of a red coffee cup with a Starbucks logo, which includes a sketch of a Krampus figure scaring a crying child, and claiming it was created and released by the American coffeehouse chain. The company told Reuters it was not responsible for the design, and a Seattle-based tattoo artist confirmed to Reuters that it was his personal creation.

More than a thousand people across Facebook (here, here, here and here) and Twitter (here) have shared the image in 2022, claiming it shows an official Starbucks release.

One Facebook user said: “I don’t participate in Starbucks coffee. Starbucks coffee cups just in time for christmas... They are literally putting satan’s image in full view for people & normalizing satanism. People think this is normal now. #SaveTheChildren.”

Krampus is a mythological creature in European legend which is “half-goat, half-demon monster that punishes misbehaving children at Christmastime”, according to Encyclopædia Britannica (here).

A spokesperson for Starbucks told Reuters via email that “this is not a Starbucks cup, nor a cup that we’ve had”.

The designs for all the coffeehouse chain’s holiday cups, an annual tradition started in 1997, can be found here, while the 2022 cup can be seen here. None of the designs include a sketch of Krampus.

Seattle-based tattoo artist Mike Tidwell, who uploaded his take on the cup to Instagram on Nov. 13, 2015 (here), confirmed to Reuters via Instagram message that he drew the image himself on his cup.

He said: “I created the art on that cup about seven years ago. I’m a professional tattoo artist and one day I had a customer reschedule their appointment with me. I had four hours to kill so I started drawing Krampus on my Starbucks cup. I posted it to social media and my friends shared it as well. Eventually it got to the public and the rumours about its origin started to spread. It’s funny to see how many people actually believe Starbucks would produce something so macabre. My friend bought the cup from me and still has it today.”

The claim has also been addressed by another outlet here.

VERDICT

Missing context. Starbucks did not create or release the Krampus cup. It was created by an American tattoo artist in 2015.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.

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