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Every day, millions of people walk into any of 20,519 Starbucks in 65 countries, and most walk back out with the same thing: a white cardboard coffee cup. Do you know the one? Of course you do. “Starbucks cups have become part of the cultural backdrop, an unconscious reminder that the brand exists,” observed management consultant and business speaker Can Akdeniz. “It’s an extremely powerful piece of packaging.”
And every year, Starbucks sells somewhere around 5 billion of them.
The story of how a simple paper cup got to be the most recognizable to-go container in the world is a strange one, and it’s about to get even stranger.