Fear the Frap: Starbucks’ Unicorn Drink Spikes Blood Sugar and Barista Rage

Starbucks baristas across the nation found out in a sticky, powdered battle with the thirsty masses that unicorns are no longer just for Harry Potter fans and Bronies. 

The sickly-sweet sugar siren-song of blended ice drinks launched on the 19th and is extended only until the 23rd (or until supplies last, as some stores have saved themselves the ire of sparkle-seeking customers and placed signs indicating the shortage.)

Capitalizing on In-N-Out burger’s boosted sales from gram-worthy food, Starbucks’ innovation department evidently spent more time deliberating what edible glitter combination worked best with the 1977 filter rather than tweaking the clashing flavor profile, in their official press statement: 

“Like its mythical namesake, the Unicorn Frappuccino blended crème comes with a bit of magic, starting as a purple beverage with swirls of blue and a first taste that is sweet and fruity,” according to a press release from the Seattle-based coffee company. “But give it a stir and its color changes to pink, and the flavor evolves to tangy and tart. The more swirl, the more the beverage’s color and flavors transform.”

Thousands had no problem doin’ it for the Gram, with the two-day-old drink gaining more than 100,000 tags on the social media site, and saving the Seattle-based coffee giant millions on a television/radio marketing campaign.  Anne Balazs, a marketing professor at Eastern Michigan University commented on the chain’s attempt to stand out in a growing and saturated market. 

“The launch of extreme or bizarre foods is an effort to capture the zeitgeist of the market. Such efforts are very short-lived, result in free publicity, often profitable, and sharply decline in effect. The fad is remembered long after the demand. It is a relatively quick way to breathe life into flat sales."

The sagacity of this campaign, of tapping into the primal desire for the everyday choices we make to matter to strangers and friends alike is that the taste of the drink is completely secondary to the fact that there’s #nofilterneeded. 

The alarming sugar/calorie content is inconsequential to the hoards flocking to the nearest S’bucks, gramming and tweeting the drink alongside protein smoothies and Buddha Bowls despite the fact that one Venti sized drink has more sugar than 7 Krispy Kreme donuts.

As for the taste that doesn’t seem to keep sugar-loving trend-followers with smartphones from parting with nearly five dollars for the concoction? Its taste has been described in less-than-savory terms, with the drink garnering some…interesting name descriptors on twitter: 

While the drink was a total taste fail and left baristas nationwide stressed-out and stuck with pink powder…everywhere, the #unicornfrappucino was an unequivocal social media marking success. At least we got the moniker "blue driz" from this experience, which now doubles as the name of at least five SoundCloud rappers and the blue streak in the Frap of the Season.