Sorry, I couldn’t resist. I am currently sitting in a Starbucks, watching dozens of dishevelled mothers with resentful eyes hold their six-year old’s hand, while standing in line to order a bright pink blue concoction.
The menu board insists that the flavour-changing Unicorn Frappuccino made with only the finest rainbows. With a little luck, you will pee glitter.
I just wrote about how customers do not buy products, they buy solutions to their problems. So, what problem does unicorn frap solve? I see two things.
1. I am out of cool beverage photos for my Instagram. This is the drink that obviously markets itself - bright pink, and IG friendly. There are only so many shots of latte art that you can post before it gets boring, and the pumpkins spice lattes will not be here for months. Teenagers tag each other, and see it on each others' feeds.
2. There is now a Starbucks beverage that appeals to six-year old girls. I mean... UNICORNS! Until now, the only 6-year old friendly drink was the good old hot chocolate. And no child would want to go to Starbucks specifically to get a hot chocolate. It was more of a "parents are getting a coffee, and happen to have their child with them, so what do you have that is hot, sweet and does not have caffeine" situation. I watch a girl of about five take her first sip, then nod and smile. "What does it taste like?", her mom asks, then takes a sip of hers, and visibly cringes. Heavily based on mango syrup, the unicorn crap, I mean frap, starts with a swirl of blue raspberry syrup lining the cup, continues with pink slush, and ends with generous cap of whipped cream, and at least two colours of sprinkles. Fifty nine grams of sugar, which is the equivalent to sugar content in six Krispy Creme donuts. Because unicorns are evil, and want your child to have diabetes. Can you hear that sound? That's the sound of children bouncing off the walls. Of course, the actual flavour of this "beverage" matters very little. Most report that it tastes like a sugar explosion with bubble gum topical fluoride. Who cares? It looks pretty on Instagram, and it literally sells itself. For many lusting six-year olds and their moms, the drink has been as elusive as... well... unicorns. Many locations were sold out mere hours after Wednesday launch, and reported "never seeing grown ass adults so angry" as after learning that they could not get a pink coloured beverage with sprinkles. The beverage is only available until today. And the wait seems to be anywhere from ten to twenty minutes. "We went everywhere else", I overhear a woman say. "We called ahead, and came here, because they still had it!".
Baristas hate this shit. [Google “Starbucks barista goes off on unicorn frappuccino” for one shared experience].
When I was in high school, I used to work at Tim Hortons – the Canadian Starbucks for the middle class. My Saturday morning shift, from 6am to 12pm, was the busiest of the week – countless parents, families, dads with hockey bags, and dozens of children in tow, tired moms in minivans, coming through drive-through, demanding caffeine.
By 7am there was a line-up both inside the store, and at the drive-through, and if there was one thing we hated being ordered (apart from five toasted bagels, all with different toppings), it was cafe mocha. If you have ever had cafe mocha at Tim Hortons, you know that it’s half coffee, half hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles on top. It is also the beverage that takes the most time to take. It was not a very popular beverage, so the whipped cream was forever shoved in the back of the fridge, and then you had to find the chocolate sprinkles. The darn mocha interfered with rhythm, and threw you off your pace. The rush did not ease up until noon, when I headed home, bleary-eyed, and smelling like Timbits, knowing that Saturday is cleaning day, and I will spend the next few hours washing the kitchen floor and the two bathrooms. *Tip for parents – if your sixteen-year old is NOT washing your bathrooms on Saturdays, you are missing out.
“Thank you so much for your patience!”, a tired-looking blonde woman behind the counter apologizes, handing three cups of “magical” concoction to a group of teenage Asian boys. Her fingers are stained pink. The teenagers have their cell phones ready. Another photo is promptly added to 120,000 images with the hashtag #unicornfrappuccino.
Another crowd of chirping ten-year olds flies into the cafe, chaperoned by two moms. The moms look like they could use a shot of sugar. And some unicorn dust.
Hmmm, maybe, I should get one. Time to get the hell out of here.