They're Baaaack: Holiday Cups Start Winterizing Starbucks

Walking along Hudson Street this morning, I spotted not one, but two red-cupped beverages that could only signal one thing - Holiday cups are back at Starbucks. Everyone's addictively-favorite conglomerate has cornered the holiday hot beverage market and admittedly, it's the one time a year that I'm buying (even at the dreaded $4+ a pop). Never one for Starbucks coffee but always a sucker for pretty packaging, is it me or does it really just taste better in a pretty red cup bursting with that pick-me-up-and-drink-me quality? And due to aforementioned Starbucks coffee hatred, I typically bypass the coffee in favor of a seasonal beverage akin to gingerbread, chocolate and eggnog. The downside? Other than a serious drain on the wallet, the caloric intake on the 'fun' drinks can really getcha here. If I'm not totally splurging, I'll go with a non-fat and the unrelished, yet thigh-approved no-whip.

In an unforgivable action, Sbux has eliminated the beverage I've waited for all year - the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Once proceeded by the Caramel Apple Cider & Pumpkin Spice Latte, these specialty concoctions, while still delicious, just don't hold a candle to the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Throw it in the red snowflake-adorned cup, and it's like a bonafide, if pricey, shot of holiday warmth and cheer. This unfortunate turn of events is cause for concern as Pumpkin Spice Latte season will soon come to a personal close and I start preparing to move on to more winterized beverages. This might just be the year of Peppermint Hot Chocolcate.

What do you think? Does it just taste better in the red holiday cup? Anyone else totally beyond bummed regarding the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate sitch?