A color-changing swirl of opinions

Published 11:36 am Thursday, April 27, 2017

Starbucks unveiled the Unicorn Frappuccino last week and everyone seemed to lose their minds over it—as is the case for anything with a ‘limited time only’ label attached. The sparkly pink and blue drink was “only available if you believe” between April 19 and April 23, so Starbucks patrons had less than a full week to try out the sugary concoction.

I’m not a coffee drinker myself, so I never partake in any overpriced Starbucks goodies. The Unicorn Frappuccino is no exception. I have, however, greatly enjoyed seeing how much a magical drink sprinkled with “pink and blue fairy powder” has stirred up people’s emotions. (Even moreso than the purple-ish colored sludge you get if you stir up the drink with a straw)

Firstly, let’s all admit this drink was made purely for the instagrammers. You know, those people who just have to take a picture of every pretty piece of food in front of them and then share it with the internet. It makes sense though because reportedly the drink looks much better than it actually tastes.

According to a Business Insider article, the new drink generated about 180,000 Instagram posts in just a few days. That’s certainly a lot of people eager to pose with a drink that matches their new manicure.

Then of course, along with the happy unicorn drinkers, there are the naysayers rallying against how unhealthy the drink is, like they’re suddenly afraid you’ll take one sip of the stuff and swear off vegetables forever.

“It has 59 grams of sugar!” they say. “It’s unnaturally colored!” they say.

“Well yes,” you say. “I sort of figured that just by looking at it.”

Probably these people are mostly unhappy because you chose to spend your money on a drink named after an imaginary creature instead of on the health shakes they’ve been peddling to you on Facebook for months.

And we can’t forget about the poor Starbucks baristas who had to actually make the crazy concoction. Imagine the disheveled employee covered in all that fairy powder dust struggling to keep up with the demand of making the complex drink in a short amount of time. One drink after the other, like a cog in the understaffed machine assembly line.

In the time it takes to put together one Unicorn Frappuccino, you could perhaps use your smartphone to read reviews of what it tastes like, get in a good workout at the gym, walk to the nearest fast food restaurant and order something else absurd, or figure out a way to solve world hunger (a way that probably doesn’t include a Unicorn Frappuccino).

If there’s one thing you can say about Starbucks’ new limited drink (besides “isn’t it time for the Pumpkin Spice Latte yet?”) is it certainly shows how much people seriously care about food gimmicks. It has given extra attention to the coffee giant along with more awareness on how much sugar you should have in your daily diet.

Of course, our collective attention span doesn’t last long. Soon enough, we’ll move on to something else that’s new and sparkly, and the Unicorn Frappuccino will fade into our memories to become as mythical as the unicorn itself.

Except we’ll have all those immortalized Instagram photos to remind us that it actually existed.


Holly Taylor is a staff writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.