Welcome to Unicorn Land
Yesterday I got high. Okay, I get it, so did a whack of other folks partaking in the usual clouded hazy gatherings on 4/20. However, it wasn’t the soon to be decriminalized green snip of munchie inducing bliss that spaced me out. I discovered a land second star on the left and straight on into a rainbow oblivion by way of the Unicorn Frap express.
I’ll freely admit it, I tend to come a little late to trends. I thought the iPhone was something uttered by a confused Tarzan and I recently just discovered the marvel that is the umbrella. So, please excuse me for not knowing anything about the current "Unicorn Craze". To me, it sounds more like a wild but loving dance then a food trend ready to sprinkle the globe with glitter and rivers of near neon syrup.
Until yesterday, my only really contact with the mystical creature of legend was when I raided my sisters My Little Pony collection as a kid because my He-Men needed a few extra steeds in the cavalry. Granted, Skeletor did look a little odd on his equestrian mount but onward to glory Moondancer!
For those lacking an exorbitant amount of glitter in their lives, “Unicorn Food” is best described as what might happen if, say, Jackson Pollock decided to create a meal using only the brightest colors in his pallet and sugar. Some websites have said these concoctions are “jazzed up” versions of their original intent but I disagree. "Unicorn Food" is a far more bizarre reality then even the most improvisational of sax solos. It’s more like “60's era Coltrane eats 5,000 cinnamon Jelly Bellys in three minutes and decides to sit in on a set with the Teletubbies and Gwar’ed up”.
A current millennial obsession and one of the stranger fades to hit social media, those participating in Uni-food antics take it upon themselves to give everything from grilled cheese to sushi a rainbow makeover. Basically, with a multitude of pinks, purples, yellows and greens, you turn your meal into how you feel it would best represent a creature that doesn’t exist but, if it did, it would damn sure look like this piece of brightly decorated toast. While some opt for a healthier take on the trend, most have channeled their inner unicorn with marshmallows, candy, goop that could be seen from Saturn and enough glitter to create a couple new universes. One bite from these bizarre mash-ups and you’ll probably feel like you’re floating in another astral plain yourself or, less ethereal, a more colorful version of Tommy Chong’s daily existence.
Orrrrr why worry about the laborious task of chewing when you can drink your unicorn? The food marketing geniuses (aka: a panel of lab coat clad clowns all named Mr. Beepers) working for Starbucks decided it was time to climb aboard the crazy train this week when it launched what is sure to go down as the weirdest beverage since Pepsi Salty Watermelon.
According to Mr. Beepers…errr, Starbucks, the drink is made with "a sweet dusting of pink powder, blended into a creme Frappuccino with mango syrup and layered with a pleasantly sour blue drizzle. It is finished with vanilla whipped cream and a sprinkle of sweet pink and sour blue powder topping."
Well, that’s the more accurate labeling. Those who have consumed a Unicorn Frap would better describe it as: “Ahhhhhhhhhhh mango glittery fiery dust sparkle sparkle glitter it burns so tasty yum yum sparkle sugar sugar sugar wtf sour mango glitter who are you again and why are you so furry!!!!?”
Seriously, the thing is the equivalent to rapidly downing three Snickers bars.
I think I just heard the sound of Wilford Brimley fainting!
It isn’t just the Quaker Oats guy taking umbrage with this rainbow monstrosity. Starbucks baristas have taken to the web to vent their disdain in often hilarious fashions. To them, the unicorn is not a friendly and flashy creature of myth but one of the four horses of the apocalypse galloping quickly towards them in a rush of fire and ash. Creating the drink for the onslaught of wide eyed and curious customers, they say, has made their lives a living hell. Some are still smelling of it one day later, peppered with powder and stained with syrup splotches that even a shower and sandblaster can’t clean.
“For every Unicorn Frappuccino you buy a barista dies,” posted Malea Mason on Twitter.
Others damned the drink even further by calling it “literally a poison-infused abomination”.
So of course I HAD TO HAVE ONE!!!!
I mean, it couldn’t be that bad, right? I’ve tasted the Angry Whopper. I’ve seen The Room, Troll 2 and Manos: The Hands of Fate all in one weekend. I’ve listened to William Shatner singing “Rocket Man”. I can take anything!
The first thing that strikes you after you realize this drink really does exist is the silliness it requires you to muster when asking for it. I don’t care if you’re a sewn together Frankenstein-like blending of Brock Lesner, a T-Rex and Chuck Norris, you ain’t looking macho asking the already customer loathing clerk behind the counter to make you one of them there unicorn drinks. Seriously, stand back from the loony lineups for this thing and see how people are ordering it. Results may vary but all should come accompanied by their own laugh track and slide whistle.
When it is eventually handed over, the Unicorn Frappuccino must first be marveled at. You may have just crawled out of a seven day trek across the Sahara but, no matter how parched you are, you’re going to take a moment to pause with wonder over the liquefied weirdness you clutch in your quickly freezing hand. Your’re probably also gonna’ wanna’ take a selfie or six. I mean, even if this isn’t the optical illusion you may be telling yourself it is, the drink is only available for limited time and it’s selling out all over the place.
Upon first glance, once you get past it being the most colorful thing in Starbucks unless you happen to be in line with a couple folks taking refuge from a paint factory explosion, the drink doesn’t look so bad. It’s pink. It’s blue. It’s got whip cream. What’s the problem?
Then you take your first sip and…
It’s just cold and fruity. It’s like tasting the circus. Your brain has a moment to register the message your taste buds are sending it and you start to feel like you’ve been had, like you build up to this has been much more than it actually is. This, of course, is all a carefully constructed ruse. Remember that scene in Jurassic Park with the cunning Velociraptors. The Unicorn Frap is also quite clever and by the time you realize you were just being distracted by a magnificent slight of mouth it is far too late.
You are not just hit by a wave. That would be too merciful. No, drinking a Unicorn Frap is like being hit by a Neil Peart drum solo. Bam ba ba bam ba bam. It's so rapid your senses can’t keep up. In the instant you feel something is happening it has already happened. Colours blend into shapes blend into more clours blending into a new periodic table of elements that consists only of bright powder, blinking lights and Troll dolls. You only have a moment to compute what you are tasting before you are no longer tasting it. You see, because unicorns are magical, Starbucks decreed, so had to be the drink and it somehow changes colour and taste in mid stream unlike any food that has ever come before it.
Then you get the first rush of sugar. It’s a 59 gram avalanche you are in no way prepared for even if you’re bolted down while drinking. That’s 15 teaspoons of the stuff! To put it into perspective, you’d have to eat nearly six servings of Frosted Flakes to match the sugary consistency of one Unicorn Frap, and that’s a food that isn’t trying to hide what it is. You eat yourself a bowl of Frosted Flakes you know it’s a bowl of flakes that are frosted. You down a Unicorn Frap unprepared for the fact that you gulping one and a half times the maximum amount of added sugar recommended in your daily intake in one drink and you’re in for a candy coated grab bag of wonders.
Thankfully I was sitting when I tasted the rainbow. I wouldn’t stand up for another four hours. The room started to spin and melt at the same time and the photo of Mick Jagger on my office wall may have started talking to me in the voice of a Smurf. It’s hard to remember as the rest of the day was spent in a daze that only started lifting when the crash started. Oh, what a glorious plummet. One Unicorn Frappuccino could very well manage to take down three elephants or two sleepy toddlers.
This can’t be what magic feels like. I may have put a day of distance between me and the drink but it feels like it’s still in my system coating my innards like a colorful tsunami and gleefully whispering to have just one more taste. I doubt I will be latching myself to the "Unicorn Food" truck again anytime soon and am thankful I can count myself among the survivors who escaped the Great Glittery Food War of 2017 having only taken one drink.
No…wait… it’s not just a drink, folks, it’s an experience.