Most people think of unicorns as cuddly-cute magical rainbow sparkle horses, right? Except according to ancient lore, the mythical creature was “the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive,” Pliny wrote. “Its cry is a deep bellow.”
A deep bellow was the noise heard across America when Starbucks released its long-rumored Unicorn Frappuccino in participating stores nationwide Wednesday. It is, indeed, a fearsome beast, one “made with a sweet dusting of pink powder blended into a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup, and layered with a pleasantly sour blue powder topping,” according to a Starbucks news release. It changes colors from purple to pink when you stir in “swirls of blue.”
When a news release identifies a drink’s component parts by its colors, rather than its flavors — well, that’s a pretty telling detail. And sure enough, it is vibrant and fun. But what flavor is “pink?” Pink is the flavor of Lisa Frank trapper keepers and strawberry milk. What does sour blue powder taste like? Like Jolly Ranchers, and shame. I guess there’s some mango in there, although it’s overshadowed by a mouth-puckering sour flavor and immediately forgotten in the aftermath of a long-lasting, tongue-coating Robitussin aftertaste.
Really, it does not matter what candies and medicines and emotions these colored powders taste like. This drink exists only to be Instagrammed, hashtag unicorn emoji, hashtag magical.
With the release, Starbucks has become the latest brand to capitalize on the social-media-famous unicorn food trend. There are unicorn noodles, lattes, toast, macarons, pancakes and Pop-Tarts. There are even “unicorn poop” cookies — a riff on a popular Internet meme that asserts that unicorns, um, excrete rainbows.
Let’s all be thankful Starbucks didn’t pursue that line of reasoning.
Teenage girls are the demographic for this drink, right? Because I, a 31-year-old woman, felt way too old to be carrying one of these down the street, the judgmental stares of Real Adults boring into me. And even though they released a drink that looks like a liquefied Grateful Dead T-shirt the day before 4/20, the holiday for marijuana smokers, Starbucks’ spokesmen are adamant that the timing is coincidental.
It tastes like sour birthday cake and Instagram likes. It tastes like a creamsicle dredged in Pixy Stix. It’s only available until April 23, and once it goes away, we’ll all wonder: Was it just a myth?