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Porno Starbucks Logo ("How the Starbucks Siren Became Less Naughty")
Dead Programmer's Cafe ^ | 06/17/2005 | Michael Krakovskiy

Posted on 05/21/2008 10:31:25 AM PDT by prolifefirst

You are probably here because you looked closely at the Starbucks logo and were a little confused about what is depicted on it. Is it a mermaid? What are those things that she is holding up with her hands? Wasn't the logo different before? What's the history of it?

I asked those questions myself and did a little bit of digging. My research started with a book that I had, called A Dictionary of Symbols by J.E. Cirlot. In it there was a chapter about Sirens.

Basically, from what I gathered from different sources, including that book, there is a lot of confusion between the different mythological half-women. Typically they are called Sirens - both the half-bird/half-woman and the half-fish/half-woman varieties. The fish type are usually called Mermaids. Both types according to the ancient Greeks were in the business of seducing mariners with songs and promises of sex and then killing them, but Hans Christian Andersen and Disney mostly made everybody forget that.

The whole sex-symbol status of mermaids hinges on the question which part is "woman" - upper or lower. "The other type of mermaid" that hapless Fry was referring to would have problems attracting suitors, of course. And how do you do it with the normal type?

Wise mythologists came up with the answer, of course. And the answer is a two-tailed mermaid sometimes called a Melusine.

The book had an old engraving of a two-tailed mermaid. It reminded me of the Starbucks Siren, but back then I did not realize that the original Starbucks logo had a slightly altered version of that engraving in the original brown cigar band-shaped logo.

Notice that the graphic designer removed the belly button, the unattractive shading around the bulging tummy of the 15th century siren and merged the tail-legs to remove the suggestion of naughty bits. The logo Siren also smiles a little while its 15th century doppelganger is looking rather grim. Other than that it's clear that this is exactly the image that he or she was using.

According to uspto.gov "[Starbucks] mark consists of the wording "Starbucks Coffee" in a circular seal with two stars, and the design of a siren (a two-tailed mermaid) wearing a crown".

Here's the "cigar band" logo from which I took the image above. The original hippie Starbucks owners did not sell espresso drinks, but mostly sold coffee beans, tea and spices. Today Starbucks sells liquor and ice cream, but no spices if you don't count the cinnamon gum and the stuff on the condiment table.

The next, more familiar green iteration of the logo has a more attractive stylized siren. The chest is hidden, but the belly button is still there.

Here is the current logo. They cropped the siren image so that only a hint of the tails is visible. I asked hourly partners at Starbucks and friends, and none of them could figure out what those things to the side of Siren's head were.

Lately I've stopped seeing pictures of the Siren on Starbucks mugs - they seem to favor just the word "Starbucks". I also started seeing the new type of the siren as part of store decoration and on coffee packaging. She only has one tail. I guess the family-unfriendly image of a fish-woman spreading her tails is on its way out.

[update] Here's a picture of the new siren:

The brown Siren logo can still be found on merchandize sold at the original Pike Place Market Starbucks in Seattle. The logo is altered though - instead of a "cigar band" design it uses just a circle logo. Cigar band logo mugs and coffee jars can still be found on eBay for upwards of $50 per mug and $200 per coffee jar. I am still looking for anything bearing an "Il Giornale" (a company founded byHoward Schultz that later ended up buying out Starbucks with the help of none other than Bill Gates Sr.) logo.

[Update] Dear Boing Boing readers - you might enjoy other sections of this blog such as Gastronomic Adventures and 100 Views of the Empire State Building.

[Update] I was alerted to another article that explores the Siren's symbolism. I haven't used it in my research, but it is very thorough.

[Update] The whole logo history is described pretty well in Pour Your Heart into It : How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time. The book is full of other Starbucks trivia: if I remember correctly, it states that Howard Schultz is a close friend of Yanni.

[Update]

I received some information from Doug Fast, the designer behind the green logo. He also graciously sent me some rare examples of the logo, for which I am extremely thankful.

"I am the guy who designed the green SBUX logo. The original brown SBUX logo was designed in 1971 by my employer before I started working for him in January 1974. ( I still work there as a designer) The design company was then called Heckler/ Bowker, here in Seattle. Bowker (the company copy writer) was one of the three original founders of SBUX and left Heckler/ Bowker in 1984 to take on SBUX full time. (there were 5-6 stores at that time) The other two founders were; Jerry Baldwin and Zev Siegal. Heckler/Bowker came up with the Starbucks name and Heckler came up with the first (brown) logo. The other name strongly suggested was Pequod, but lost out to Starbucks.

The original SBUX store was NOT in the Public Market or in the Arcade as people think. It was at the corner of Western Avenue & Virginia, just north, across the street from the Public Market at the foot of the steep hill going up to 1st Avenue, and opened it's doors in March 1971. I have a photo of it and also a drawing of it that was on an SBUX Christmas card from 1977.

The first retail Starbucks coffee drink concept store was originally called Il Giornale, and located on 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle. There was only one of these stores ever. I designed the logo for that in 1985-86, plus the coffee bag packaging, and still have the stationary, bags, and cup designs in my sample file. Howard Schultz was still an employee of SBUX at that time, not the owner, as I've seen said in previous blog info. here.

The reason only ONE Il Giornale store ever existed was because of the purchase of SBUX by Howard and his investers, and because the SBUX name and logo had so much capital already, they changed Il Giornale back to SBUX and wanted a more reproducable SBUX design, to go national.

I did the green "full siren" logo with a stronger, simpler, read for reproduction. The SBUX type was HAND DRAWN and based on the typeface, Franklin Gothic (this was pre-computer, folks) and had to be drawn so it bent well, around the circle. We submitted the logo to Howard, one with a red color and one in a green color. He picked the green color option.

In 1992 we had to blow up the siren to eliminate the spread, so called suggestive tails, so that's the version you see today.

I still have most of the original concept work for the creation of this logo in one of my big sketchbooks. To me at the time, it was just another logo job to do. Who would have thought I'd be sick of seeing it all over the place. It isn't one of my best logos."

Original stores from the old coffee bag:

The original "cigar band" logo:

Il Giornale logo:

Green "bellybutton" logo

One of the newer coffee bags that reimagines the siren:

New "cigar band" logo with covered up nipples and cleaner lines:

New plastic stirrer / plug in the shape of the siren:

Your vote:

Cancel Rating20406080100 Average: 4.7 (91 votes)

Coffee and Caffeine Logos Stumble


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: arthistory; mermaids; nudity; starbucks
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Explicitly pornographic source for the logo is shown at the link.

This article is from 2005, but it is great research on where the recent logo change comes from.

1 posted on 05/21/2008 10:31:25 AM PDT by prolifefirst
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To: prolifefirst

I have drunk my last Starbucks yesterday.


2 posted on 05/21/2008 10:33:02 AM PDT by prolifefirst
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To: prolifefirst

I have drunk my last Starbucks yesterday.


3 posted on 05/21/2008 10:33:03 AM PDT by prolifefirst
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To: prolifefirst
If this is the standard that what is called ‘pornography’ had been reduced to, we might as well ban most history books, travel channel shows, beaches, art museums, National Geographic, and science textbooks.. jeeze.. people complaining about this really need to get their priorities in order.
4 posted on 05/21/2008 10:35:16 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: prolifefirst
Explicitly pornographic source for the logo is shown at the link

I don't know if I would go as far as calling some poorly drawn naked mermaid logo, 'explicitly pornographic'.

5 posted on 05/21/2008 10:35:16 AM PDT by Always Right (Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?)
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To: prolifefirst

I’m going to run down the block now and buy a couple of Chi Lattes and some whole beans to make up for it.


6 posted on 05/21/2008 10:37:43 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: Always Right

Yea, I wouldnt call it porn at all. A nekkid scribble maybe.


7 posted on 05/21/2008 10:37:46 AM PDT by WarToad
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To: prolifefirst

Only libs could make coffee so political...


8 posted on 05/21/2008 10:41:28 AM PDT by JamesP81 (George Orwell's 1984 was a warning, not a suggestion)
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To: prolifefirst

You’re right! If God wanted us to go around naked, we wouldn’t have been born with our clothes on!


9 posted on 05/21/2008 10:41:35 AM PDT by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: mnehrling

I’m looking at said porn right now.

It’s staring at me from next to the comuter.

Other than the fact it’s pretty ugly, there’s nothing offensive to it.


10 posted on 05/21/2008 10:43:44 AM PDT by Hoodlum91 (I support global warming.)
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To: prolifefirst

Silliest thread of the day?


11 posted on 05/21/2008 10:47:30 AM PDT by GSWarrior (Posting trite comments since 2000)
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To: Always Right
I don't know if I would go as far as calling some poorly drawn naked mermaid logo, 'explicitly pornographic'.

Ah, but this is Free Republic. Without a steady steam of "Outrages of the Day", what would most of us do with ourselves? ;)

12 posted on 05/21/2008 10:48:16 AM PDT by Mr. Jeeves ("One man's 'magic' is another man's engineering. 'Supernatural' is a null word." -- Robert Heinlein)
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To: Mr. Jeeves; Always Right
We should have a Knee Jerk Olympic ping list for threads like this. I remember yesterday someone was throwing a hissy fit because they thought Rachael Ray was wearing Kaffiyeh, in reality it was just a black and white scarf, but it didn't stop people from throwing a fit.
13 posted on 05/21/2008 10:51:03 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: prolifefirst
That's not pornography.

In the 15th century, that was "natural history".

Read Mark Twain's "A Tudor Dinner Table Conversation" if you don't believe me . . . .

14 posted on 05/21/2008 10:54:06 AM PDT by AnAmericanMother (Ministrix of Ye Chase, TTGC Ladies' Auxiliary (recess appointment))
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To: Mr. Jeeves
Atleast it's not like the British Office of Government Commerce logo turned sideways...


15 posted on 05/21/2008 10:54:30 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim (Play that Funky Music Typical White Boy!)
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To: All

You guys don’t think a barebreasted woman holding her legs apart on millions of cups a day isn’t a furter degradation of our culture.


16 posted on 05/21/2008 10:55:08 AM PDT by prolifefirst
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To: prolifefirst
No more than, for example, Albrecht Durer's Adam and Eve was a degradation of German culture or Salomon deBray's Young Woman Combing Her Hair was a degradation of Dutch culture. I find chronic obsession over finding something to be offended by far more of something to be worried about.
17 posted on 05/21/2008 11:00:42 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: prolifefirst

Remember when Little Mermaid statue in Denmark was vandalized by Muslims because it portrayed a woman’s bear breasts?


18 posted on 05/21/2008 11:03:45 AM PDT by mnehring
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To: prolifefirst

If that logo is the outrage that’s grabbing your attention, our culture has a lot further degredation to go.


19 posted on 05/21/2008 11:05:23 AM PDT by ctdonath2 (The average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. - Ratatouille)
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To: mnehrling
bear breasts?


20 posted on 05/21/2008 11:08:12 AM PDT by Revolting cat! (I'll pray for celebrities as soon as they start praying for me!)
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To: prolifefirst
I'm prolife. I love Jesus.

I'm not real worried about it. But then it never occurred to me that anyone would want to *blank* a fish.

Actually until all this came up I was just used to the newer logos. I thought all the wavy lines were water she came up out of.

I think $2 is for a cup of coffee is an obscenity worth prosecuting though.

And the name has always given me the creeps. I don't know why. It kind of reeks of neopaganism.

But the logo (even with nipples and all showing) just strikes me as old world maritime nostalgia. Which as it turns out is exactly what the owners were trying to do.

(Too bad their coffee sucks.)

21 posted on 05/21/2008 11:09:54 AM PDT by GulfBreeze (McCain is our nominee. No one else.)
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To: prolifefirst

I think people need to get a life when they start to worry about what’s on a cup of starbucks.


22 posted on 05/21/2008 11:11:47 AM PDT by Perdogg (Four years of Carter gave us 29 years of Iran; What will Hilabama give us?)
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To: Perdogg

Yeah especially when they pay more per gallon for that swill and ambiance versus a gallon of gas but bitch all day about gas.


23 posted on 05/21/2008 11:19:39 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: prolifefirst
You guys don’t think a barebreasted woman holding her legs apart

lol...
It's a mermaid, dude...she ain't got no legs and bare breasted mermaids have been riding the bows of American sailing vessels for over two hundred years.
.
24 posted on 05/21/2008 11:20:43 AM PDT by radioman
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To: Always Right

I certainly wouldn’t. How utterly ridiculous.


25 posted on 05/21/2008 11:21:41 AM PDT by arderkrag (Libertarian Nutcase (Political Compass Coordinates: 9.00, -2.62 - www.politicalcompass.org))
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To: Resolute Conservative

My favorite is the green tea latte. Plus the baristas are very nice looking young ladies.

You have to also account for quanity discounts. A vente would not cost $4.00 X 6.4 per gallon, it would be less.


26 posted on 05/21/2008 11:23:03 AM PDT by Perdogg (Four years of Carter gave us 29 years of Iran; What will Hilabama give us?)
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To: prolifefirst

It’s not a woman, they aren’t legs, and the artistic root dates back to the 15th century so “further degradation” is a bit of a stretch too.


27 posted on 05/21/2008 11:28:44 AM PDT by boogerbear
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To: prolifefirst
Then this must REALLY piss you off:


28 posted on 05/21/2008 11:32:38 AM PDT by arderkrag (Libertarian Nutcase (Political Compass Coordinates: 9.00, -2.62 - www.politicalcompass.org))
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To: Revolting cat!

bear breasts?

My Eyes! My Eyes!


29 posted on 05/21/2008 11:35:25 AM PDT by Taffini (Mr. Pippin and Mr. Waffles do not approve)
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To: prolifefirst

30 posted on 05/21/2008 11:38:43 AM PDT by Alouette (Vicious Babushka)
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To: arderkrag

Do they know about the naked flying babies in the Sistine Chapel?


31 posted on 05/21/2008 11:39:28 AM PDT by Taffini (Mr. Pippin and Mr. Waffles do not approve)
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To: prolifefirst
The original logo from the 1970s was a better rendering of a mermaid, but nobody got excited about then, why now?? Mermaids have always been depicted bare, it was the prudes at Disney or somewhere that decided to give them seashell bras. Nowhere else in the world are they so covered; where they are shown in children's books or toys, they're shown in accordance with the Myth.
32 posted on 05/21/2008 11:44:26 AM PDT by ROLF of the HILL COUNTRY ( The Constitution needs No interpreting, only APPLICATION!)
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To: prolifefirst

Some people just have waaaaaaay too much time on their hands.


33 posted on 05/21/2008 11:45:06 AM PDT by Publius6961 (You're Government, it's not your money, and you never have to show a profit.)
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To: prolifefirst
I don't think the artist was drinking coffee when he drew a mermaid with two tails.
34 posted on 05/21/2008 12:06:10 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Publius6961
shhhh.. don't tell anyone, but did you know that *gasp* Jesus was born naked?
35 posted on 05/21/2008 12:06:18 PM PDT by mnehring
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To: Tijeras_Slim

LOL, awesome! hehe


36 posted on 05/21/2008 12:07:34 PM PDT by Hatheos
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To: Tijeras_Slim

That’s one funny logo there...
If they had the “B” for British on the “top”, it would be a hat.


37 posted on 05/21/2008 12:08:36 PM PDT by MrB (You can't reason people out of a position that they didn't use reason to get into in the first place)
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To: All
**Breaking News**

Because of pressure from religious groups over the nakedness of Starbuck's logo, Starbucks has officially announced that the new logo will be based on a recent incarnation of The Little Mermaid in Denmark- Burqa and all.


38 posted on 05/21/2008 12:09:50 PM PDT by mnehring
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To: Alouette

39 posted on 05/21/2008 12:12:42 PM PDT by Perdogg (Four years of Carter gave us 29 years of Iran; What will Hilabama give us?)
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To: arderkrag

She looks like she has a brazilian.


40 posted on 05/21/2008 12:14:01 PM PDT by Perdogg (Four years of Carter gave us 29 years of Iran; What will Hilabama give us?)
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To: prolifefirst

Where is your sarc tag. You are being silly today obviously.


41 posted on 05/21/2008 12:16:47 PM PDT by napscoordinator
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To: Hoodlum91

What does that make the Hooters Owl eyes on billboard???


42 posted on 05/21/2008 12:28:20 PM PDT by najida (The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.)
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To: mnehrling
" ... jeeze.. people complaining about this really need to get their priorities in order."

Hey ... I have an idea!

Let's all adopt burqua's for our women and vow to never look at them ... even while they sleep .. at the risk of kicking in the pre-nups.

Do f****** manuals come with muzzie brides?

On the glorious night of the marriage, allah be supreme, find the part of your bride, bless allah in his loveliness, under the part that opens (if you can't find it, praise allah, command your bride to p!$$ .. THAT is the plessed area) ... and ... "

43 posted on 05/21/2008 12:40:36 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true.)
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To: prolifefirst

I worked with a guy that had the original logo on his coffee cup. Then he dropped it, he was pretty po’d.


44 posted on 05/21/2008 12:42:11 PM PDT by Lx ((Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.))
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To: najida

Those aren’t eyes?


45 posted on 05/21/2008 12:42:47 PM PDT by Hoodlum91 (I support global warming.)
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To: prolifefirst

Starbucks wimped out by changing their logo. They probably raised their prices in honor of the wimpyness. Vultures without even a hint of porno remaining.


46 posted on 05/21/2008 12:48:23 PM PDT by BlueStateBlues (Blue State for business, Red State at heart..)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

That’s hilarious!


47 posted on 05/21/2008 12:52:48 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: Hoodlum91

Yeah,
kinda hard to miss 4 feet o’boob ain’t it?


48 posted on 05/21/2008 12:59:00 PM PDT by najida (The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.)
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To: prolifefirst
If they actually did put a bare breasted woman holding her legs apart on a cup of coffee they would probably sell billions of cups a day instead of millions.

But this is just a cheesy graphic of a mermaid copied from ancient mariner's art.

49 posted on 05/21/2008 2:48:02 PM PDT by TigersEye (Berlin 1936. Olympics for murdering regimes. Beijing 2008.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Naughty snowman.


50 posted on 05/21/2008 2:51:36 PM PDT by TigersEye (Berlin 1936. Olympics for murdering regimes. Beijing 2008.)
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