OMG. Can a woman go a day without a glittery, rainbow, magical creature-themed Starbucks drink blowing up her news feed? No, it appears, we cannot. Today, it’s Mermaid Frappuccinos. Last week, it was Unicorn and Dragon frapps. Oh, and in case you’re getting nostalgic for plain-old basic sugary frozen drinks, today, Starbucks introduced the Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino. Really?!
I like a delicious cold coffee drink as much as the next person. I might even on occasion crave something that’s over-the-top colorful — even if it’s obnoxious and clearly created for social media purposes. But this is getting truly ridiculous. It’s not enough that Starbucks has already stolen business from plenty of mom-and-pop coffee shops; now, it has to occupy more space in our brains and social media feeds too? Give me a break.
Look, I grew up in the ’90s, so I get the Lisa Frank, Disney princess, magic and rainbows thing, I really do. But just like I eventually took the training wheels off my bike, quit eating Dunkaroos for lunch every day and stopped using a Razor scooter as my primary mode of transportation, I eventually left most of those things in the past — after, you know, I hit double digits.
That’s why I’m a little confused about our collective obsession with ultra-colorful, sparkly, cartoonish foods. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with liking those things, but how is it possible that so many adults are losing their shit over a that sounds, frankly, a little gross? (Not to mention unpleasant to make — this Starbucks barista practically had a meltdown over it.)
And why are we jumping at the chance to eat things like mermaid toast in which a perfectly good piece of bread is slathered with artificially colored spreads and sprinkles? Avocado toast got a lot of flak for being too hipster, but no one seems to be calling out these other food trends as being too… I don’t know, childish AF?
Millennials like me get a lot of flak for being immature, but plenty of statistics are showing that we’re delaying certain milestones because of the crap economy we fell into after our booming childhoods. We’re getting married later because weddings are expensive, having kids older because they cost a ton to raise, not buying houses because… well, you get the picture.
So is our obsession with magically delicious rainbow foods our way of holding onto the actually fun parts of childhood as we peer into a future devoid of Social Security and home ownership? Or is it a cultural plague, a sign of the end times?
According to Anthony Bourdain, it’s the latter. Here’s what he had to say when asked about the Unicorn Frappuccino at Starbucks: “Wow, that’s like four things I hate all in one sentence: Starbucks, unicorns and the colors pink and purple. Also a Frappuccino! It’s the perfect nexus of awfulness. Just add pumpkin spice to that mix, and you can nuke the whole country.” OK, Anthony — dramatic much? But still, he makes a valid point.
Either way, it’ll be interesting to see how long the nightmarishly glitter-filled trends continue. Will we be eating Barbie-themed roast beef and Care Bear mac and cheese in days to come? Or will we finally ditch the artificial colorings and dyes and just let food be food again? Who knows.
Maybe when I’m 80 and sporting rainbow sparkle dentures while sipping on a mermaid-pegasus nutrient shake, I’ll be glad that there’s so much more color in the world (and on Instagram). Or not.