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Review of Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino: Is it Magical or Just Monstrous?

Kara Pauley, Journalist

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Unless you have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you have probably scrolled through Instagram or Facebook and saw Starbucks’ vibrant and Wonka-esque Unicorn Frappuccino.  The swirly blue and pink concoction looks downright mythical topped with, “whipped cream-sprinkled pink and blue fairy powders”, according to Starbucks’ online description. The drink is enticing in picture, but looks and slogans can be deceiving.

Starbucks describes the libation as tasting like, “Magical flavors start[ing] off sweet and fruity transforming to pleasantly sour.”  While the drink does indeed change flavors like an Everlasting Gobstopper, the drink relies more on appearances than flavors. Each drink varies slightly because they are handmade so everyone’s experience may differ, but mine did not live up to my high expectations.  

While in line to order the concoction, I saw two girls slightly younger than me pick up their grande Unicorn Frappuccinos and immediately clamor together for a selfie to post on each of their respective Snapchat stories. This was the first visible sign to me that the entire operation of a trendy, limited edition drink is only a clever marketing ploy by Starbucks. 

When the time came for me to order my drink (after a middle-aged man in front of me ordered a venti Unicorn Frappuccino!), I told the barista my choice and she just nodded frazzledly while scribbling “UNI” on the cup. 

I was ecstatic when I picked the drink up from the counter because I was sure that it was not going to look as good as it did in the advertisements and pictures. Yet, lo and behold, there it was, just as loopy, vivacious, and Harry Potter-like in person. I, being a self-obsessed millennial, posted a snap of the drink to my Instagram story and Twitter and took the first decisive sip in front customers waiting with bated breaths, awaiting on my reaction to decide whether or not they were going to order the drink themselves. 

And it was…good? Sort of. I think it may have been wishful thinking (wishful drinking?). If I was a few years younger and had not already outgrown my days of princess dresses and My Little Pony, I probably would have really enjoyed the drink. Instead, I was accosted with an overpowering fake mango taste, reminiscent of tropical gum, which I loathe.  Taken aback, I twirled the straw around to mix up the flavors to get another crack at it and was thoroughly surprised to find a tangy sour flavor, with no trace of the mango. 

The flavor-changing aspects of the drink are almost as impressive as the vibrant colors and the one reason why I do not want to go on an uninhibited rant against this drink. I did not mind the sour and (extremely) sweet flavors the Frappuccino conjured up, but the mango fruitiness was overly prominent and did not mesh well with the rest of the drink’s flavors. I would have preferred a vanilla flavor or even raspberry or strawberry, as the mango seemed out of place.

It may not come as a shock that the Unicorn Frappuccino is not a certified superfood.  Due to the artificial flavoring and coloring in the syrup and sprinkles, the drink possesses a dizzying amount of sugar. The American Heart Association on their website recommends that men consume no more than 36 grams per day and women no more than 25 grams. Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino contains a whopping 59 grams of sugar, which is more than double my daily recommended intake. As a result, after finishing my frappuccino, I had a horrible headache and felt lethargic and nauseous for the rest of the day. So, if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up from Starbucks, the Unicorn Frappuccino is NOT the way to go.

In retrospect, it seems naive of me to expect so much from an obvious advertising tactic, but I cannot help but feel let down. I guess I was expecting it to live up to an unattainable standard only achieved at places like Hogwarts and Camp Half Blood. At least I can take solace knowing that this particular unicorn drink did not cause me to live a cursed life; I think all Harry Potter fans can agree. 

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Review of Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino: Is it Magical or Just Monstrous?