The barista smiles at me and says, "No, I haven't tried it. It's the color." I nod. "I understand," I say, hoping I will survive the upcoming taste onslaught of Starbucks' limited-time Unicorn Frappuccino.
What does a unicorn taste like? Starbucks has attempted to answer this very important question with the debut of a limited-time, brightly colored blended drink.
It's early. I haven't had breakfast yet. I haven't even had my morning cup of coffee, but I'm standing in a Starbucks ordering two venti-sized unicorns. I pinch myself to make sure I'm not still dreaming. The sign advertising the beverage reads, "Made only with the finest rainbows."
The oddball Starbucks drink came about as way to ride the unicorn food craze, a social media-fueled fad that involves decorating everything from toast to cupcakes in bright colors. The special drink is only available in the US, Canada and Mexico from Wednesday through Sunday.
I watch the friendly barista prepare the cups by squirting a vein-blue thick liquid around the inside. It's called "sour blue drizzle." She scoops a mysterious pink powder into milk and ice and blends it up. It comes out screaming, threatening to tear at my eyeballs.
"It's too early for this," I think to myself.
I grab my double dose of unicorn and a couple straws and head home to experience this madness in privacy. Starbucks promises a magical drink that starts off sweet and fruity and then transforms into tart flavors. I take my first sip and, indeed, it's full of anonymous tropical fruit. It's a little cloying, but perfectly welcome on what's already shaping up to be a warm day here in New Mexico.
I swirl the straw around, hoping I don't anger the beast. I take another sip. Hello, SweeTarts. The promised flavor change announces itself and it tastes like eating those round sweet and tart candies. As you push the straw around and sip, the fruity and sour flavors intermingle. It's teasing. It's fun, but there's no way I'm going to make to the bottom of this 24-ounce venti cup.
While the taste-changing miracle works, the color-changing "spectacle of purple and pink" doesn't fare quite as well. I do see pink and I do see purple, but they're close in shade and there's no "wow" moment where it looks like someone repainted the drink's colors.
At least now I have an idea of what a unicorn tastes like. It's not chicken. It's mango. It's tropics. It's sugar. It's a bit of sour, the pointy horn on the pretty horse. Will I order another one? Hell, no. Once is enough, but I'm not sorry I tried it.
Oh ... and I'm not actually sparkling. I checked in the mirror just to be sure.
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