The Starbucks Siren

Whenever I chat about the mermaids in my novels, I’m not too surprised when the children in my circle mention The Little Mermaid. But I was taken aback when one eight-year-old boy pointed to a Starbucks coffee cup and asked: “Does your mermaid look like that?”

With over 20,000 Starbucks in 65 different countries and more than 5 billion in sales, the trademark coffee cup is one of the most recognizable containers in the world.

And the cup has a history!

starbuckssirenIn 1971, Starbucks was a fledgling coffee shop on the Seattle waterfront. Hoping to garner more interest, the three founders hired consultant Terry Heckler to create an eye-catching logo. After spending days pouring over old marine books, he came up with a logo based on an old 16th-century Norse woodcut: a two-tailed mermaid. The mermaid was also topless.

Despite some initial complaints, the partners approved the logo. Howard Schultz explains: “Bare breasted and Ruebenesque, the mermaid was supposed to be as seductive as the coffee itself.” But the partners had to revisit their decision when it came time to put the logo on delivery trucks. Enlarging the logo created an unexpected problem: the mermaid breasts were huge. Back to the drawing board…Starbucks restyled the mermaid’s hairdo so it draped over her breasts.

When Schultz bought out his partners, he modified the logo by placing the mermaid in the center of a green circle.

More changes followed as the company grew. In 2011, Starbucks celebrated their 40th anniversary by removing the outer circle. “Throughout the last four decades, the Siren has been there through it all. And now, we’ve given her a small but meaningful update to ensure that the Starbucks brand continues to embrace our heritage in ways that are true to our core values and that also ensure we remain relevant and poised for future growth.”


To celebrate the upcoming release of The Coming of Arabella, I’m offering a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Enter the giveaway here.