Starbucks has been widely ripped for the pompousness of its sizes. Making fun of ventis and grandes is the 21st-century version of mocking airline food. “Why is a small coffee tall? I want a huge coffee to go with my donuts, amirite folks? And what’s with that jazz music?” But, that said, there is something to be said for a wide variety of coffee cups, especially when Starbucks drops sugar bombs every holiday season. So, just in time for your peppermint mocha, Starbucks is reviving the “short.”
This far-too-detailed discussion of branding strategies from Thrillist explains why short was lost way back when:
The menu boards at Starbucks, for many, many years in the ’90s, only had three sizes listed: short, tall, and grande, [Starbucks megafan Melody] Overton noted. “So a short was considered to be a small, tall was medium, and grande was large.” And then venti came in and changed the damn size game. “When venti was added, short dropped off the menu boards,” Overton says. “Starbucks decided that there wasn’t room for four sizes.” So short got the boot and tall became the new short, or small.”
For comparison, a short is eight ounces, and a tall is 12, roughly equivalent to a can of soda in volume. Those four ounces can make a real difference with the sugary drinks: A fully loaded peppermint mocha is 240 calories in short and 350 in tall. In a season where basically the entire country is fed junk food with a firehose between roughly next Tuesday and the end of the year, it can make a lot of difference when you’re trying not to put on too much weight before Sober January and your gym visits.
Fair warning: The short won’t be up on the menu boards. You’re going to have to explicitly ask for it if you want only a small dose of hot joy this holiday season. But, hey, your long-suffering barista would rather get you a smaller cup than have to hear, ever again, about the company’s cups in general.