By Christina Stiehl
The brightly-colored blended beverage is all the rage on social media, but it packs more sugar than half a dozen glazed Krispy Kreme donuts. Worth the splurge?
Starbucks is capitalizing on the unicorn social media craze with the release of its limited-edition Unicorn Frappuccino. Bright pink and blue and topped with edible glitter, the fruity beverage was released on April 19 to much fanfare and colorful social media snaps.
The magical drink is “blended crème” with “mango syrup” and layered with a “blue sour drizzle,” according to a Starbucks press release. It’s then topped with whipped cream and a dusting of pink and blue powder. The drink starts as a purple color with swirls of blue, and changes color and flavor with each stir going from sweet and fruity to tangy and tart, according to the release.
So, what exactly is in this magical beverage?
The vibrant colors actually come from natural sources: The blue is made from spirulina (a naturally-blue algae), and the pink is from a mixture of fruit sources including apple, cherry, radish, and sweet potato. But that’s about where the good stuff ends. The drink itself is an elaborate concoction of ice, milk, crème frappuccino syrup, mango syrup, “blue drizzle,” and whipped cream. Translation: dairy, sugar, sugar, and more sugar. The ingredient information also lists natural and artificial flavors in the various syrups, so who knows what kind of questionable additives could be lurking under those mysterious labels.
Let’s talk nutrition.
But the worst part is probably the nutrition facts. For a grande (16 ounces) made with whole milk and topped with whipped cream, the drink is 401 calories, 16 grams of fat (10 grams saturated), 5 grams of protein, 62 grams of carbs (0 grams of fiber), and a whopping 59 grams of sugar.
For a venti (24 ounces), you’re looking at 500 calories, 18 grams of fat (11 grams saturated), 7 grams of protein, 79 grams of carbs (0 grams of fiber), and an alarming 76 grams of sugar. Even if you were to opt for the tall size (12 ounces), that’s still 280 calories and 39 grams of sugar. The FDA recommends no more than 50 grams of added sugars a day for the average adult, meaning one grande or venti will put you way over the limit.
The drink isn’t even made with coffee, so it’s caffeine-free. Basically, the only buzz you’ll get is from a sugar rush, which will result in an inevitable crash after your blood sugar spikes and drops. This could lead to feeling hungry, lethargic, and craving more unhealthy food.
Our final verdict?
It’s a good thing the Unicorn Frappuccino is only available until April 23; any longer than four days’ worth of drinking this beverage and you’re at risk for consuming way too much belly-fattening sugar.
If you’re still curious about trying this treat, we suggest you opt for a tall made with nonfat milk and no whipped cream. That will only set you back 170 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 39 grams of carbs, and 37 grams of sugar. Still worried about the high sugar content? Split it with a friend. That way, you both can share this limited-time-only blended beverage on your social media accounts.