REVIEW: Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

I thought it was a late stage April Fool’s Day joke, like the Rainbow Drink or possibly a foreign exclusive since only they get the cool, wacky Starbucks drinks. Take a moment to Google “American Cherry Pie Frappuccino” that is available only in Japan, (sigh) of course.

Once the Unicorn Frappuccino finally became official, though, my mind started racing. Would it be made with the tears of unicorns? Has Starbucks finally figured out how to manufacture eternal euphoria? So many questions, but one thing was clear – I absolutely needed this in my life.

The drink is marketed to play up its mythical nature rather than provide too many specifics on its actual composition. I’m glad they didn’t go low budget, though, when sourcing their rainbows as the in-store menu informed me it’s made with only the finest ones. I’ve had cheap rainbows before and they were not very good (very dull in color and lacking intense flavor).

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 2

The drink’s actual contents are a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup, a sour-flavored interior drizzle and sour-dusted whipped cream. I couldn’t taste an iota of mango flavor, but I did get intense vanilla and sour notes. It’s as if little extremities of sour patch kids had invaded my vanilla milkshake.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 3

I do applaud Starbucks for thinking outside the box with its creative claims that it changes color and flavor when you stir, although, execution wise, the color transition was very, very subtle and there didn’t seem to be enough of the blue sauce in my drink for it to completely change flavors.

The nutrition facts are frightening since a Venti supposedly contains 76 grams of sugar and 500 calories, but as only a rare treat, they are somewhat understandable. I was very concerned this meant it would be a sugar bomb that was so overly sweet and heavy it would be rendered nearly undrinkable. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was instead both creamy and pretty delicious.

Overall, though, while this was a gimmicky drink through and through, Starbucks hit it out of the park on creativity and marketing. Seeing the hysteria ensue makes me wonder if it will be destined for a yearly reemergence. I just hope they push the envelope even further, like with a special iridescent straw that would glisten majestically like a horn, which I WOULD CAMP OUT FOR THE DEBUT OF.

Oh and your move, Starbucks Japan.

(Nutrition Facts – Venti – 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 76 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Venti
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: A domestic Starbucks drink that for once can make international outposts jealous. Not a revolting sugar bomb. Flavor that’s like the offspring of a vanilla milkshake and a sour patch kid. Destined for McRib-like limited edition runs.
Cons: Low budget rainbow sourcing. Nutrition facts that I wish were mythical. No glistening iridescent straw. So-so execution of flavor/color changing nature.

REVIEW: Burger King Froot Loops Shake

Burger King Froot Loops Shake

Slowly, but surely, cereal is becoming more of a dessert than a breakfast.

While starting the day with a bowl of Fruit Loops is a time-honored tradition, cereal as a nightcap is gaining. It’s sweet enough to follow up a savory meal, but hearty enough to fill the role of a late night snack. Something about cereal at night just makes good mature sense. As a kid, a bowl of Fruit Loops was the one thing getting me out of bed to start the day. As an adult, cereal is how I get over the day.

Cereal is an indulgence. So it’s only fitting that Burger King is celebrating this luxury with the Froot Loops Shake. This treat blended loops of sweet fruity cereal immersed within a rich vanilla shake, and an invisible dash of flavored syrup. The result is a treat that tastes familiar, but feels remarkably unique.

At first glance, it’s easy to mistake the Froot Loops Shake for plain vanilla. But on closer inspection, the crumbs of multicolored cereal pop against the white cream. They also hold their color over time, meaning the shake never turns into a rainbow sludge. It stays consistently polka-dotted with reds, blues, oranges, and yellows.

The flavor is immediately reminiscent of cereal milk, the leftover “broth” that ends any morning (or evening) bowl. It’s creamy and lightly fruitful, boosted by occasional bits of cereal.

Froot Loops prove to be the perfect choice for this shake, as they stay crisp until the last sip. It’s a very pleasant texture, with a satisfying crunch. Shockingly, none of the pieces were large enough to lodge themselves in the straw – which often happens with other “chunky” milkshakes.

Overall, the Froot Loops Shake delivers on a simple premise. It’s a vanilla milkshake blended with Froot Loops. There’s no fancy presentation, or elaborate concept. But the real surprise comes from how satisfying this simple combination proves to be.

It’s definitely not a breakfast bite, and isn’t going to wash down a burger. But the Froot Loops Shake will feed that craving for cereal flavor, without the pretense of breakfast.

(Nutrition Facts – 720 calories, 190 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 560 milligrams of sodium, 126 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 103 grams of sugar, and 16 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes exactly like a bowl of cereal, with added richness of ice cream. Delightful texture that doesn’t clog the straw. Colors don’t run.
Cons: Very simplistic. Doesn’t offer much of a surprise. A bit pricey if bought on its own.

REVIEW: Starbucks Pink Drink

Starbucks Pink Drink

You know what’s awesome?

Secret menu items.

You know what’s not awesome?

Ordering a secret menu item and the employee not knowing what you are talking about.

However, when a secret menu item is then elevated to the main menu it’s like the best of both worlds. A special, kind of exclusive treat that you don’t have to worry about acquiring. That’s exactly what has happened with Starbucks’ new Pink Drink. It contains their strawberry acai refresher mixed with coconut milk and strawberries and is now officially available.

Since its moniker is simply a color, I was very hesitant to see the drink in person as I didn’t want to be let down if it wasn’t enough pink enough. I was definitely hoping for execution more like the fantastic colored ketchup of yesteryear and less like the recent underwhelming naturally colored Froot Loops. The color didn’t disappoint, though, as it was a lovely pastel pink with nice pops of red from the strawberries.

Starbucks Pink Drink 2

The strawberries get a passing grade, probably a C or so if I was a grade school teacher. They are freeze-dried so make sure you let them soak a bit in the drink. Otherwise, they are crunchy and dry which means the flavor is a bit subdued. They are much better with some moisture in them as they provide a nice blast of tartness.

Even though it is advertised to be acai flavored with accents of passion fruit the only flavor I could taste is that of the main one, strawberry, and it comes through very nicely. The drink isn’t a sugar bomb either. It has a creamy nature but is still incredibly refreshing. It’s again the best of both worlds!

It reminded me of a light strawberry milk or even better yet Yoo-hoo’s strawberry drink in a fancier, lighter, and fresher version. I’m not usually a straight coconut milk fan but here it made for the perfect base for the refresher without being too overpowering.

With this drink being promoted to the official menu and being pretty darn good, I wonder if any other of the colored drinks that blew up Instagram last year will make the jump as well. Since it’s my favorite color and there has been an immense void in this segment for years (R.I.P. Pepsi Blue), fingers crossed for the blue one!

(Nutrition Facts – Grande (16 oz) – 140 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.85
Size: Venti
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Creamy and refreshing strawberry flavor. Secret menu items getting a promotion. Fondly remembering childhood food.
Cons: Strawberries that are better suited for space travel. Unnoticeable passion fruit and acai flavors.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito

Remember that old horror movie The Fly? You know, the one where Vincent Price steps inside a teleportation machine but he doesn’t know there’s a fly in there with him so when he comes out of the machine, he turns into a horrible human-fly monster? Well, basically, that’s what Taco Bell’s latest limited time only offering is – except with way more avocado ranch sauce.

I keep trying to think of a more dignified way to describe the Loaded Taco Burrito, but the same sentence keeps popping up in my mind: “uh, guys, this is just a pureed taco wrapped up in a tortilla.” This may very well be the least inspired Taco Bell L-T-O of all time, but does the actual taste of the product offset its astonishing uncreativity?

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 2

First things first, the burrito is BIG. It’s easily twice the girth of the chain’s cheesy bean and rice burrito and it is absolutely stuffed with seasoned beef (really, enough to qualify for a double portion, maybe even a triple load.) The flour tortilla itself also seems larger and more flavorful than the ones the restaurant uses for its rank and file burritos, so that’s a nice touch, too.

As far as the other contents of the Loaded Taco Burrito, we’re primarily working with the all the usual supreme fixins: you’ve got some crispy lettuce in there, some diced tomatoes, some shredded semi-spicy cheese, a hearty dollop of sour cream and a big old squirtin’ of the Bell’s proprietary avocado ranch dressing (although you can always sub that out for one of the chain’s other dressings.) However, I want you to take a real close look at the interior contents of the LTB – notice anything peculiar?

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 3

No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. My local Bell decided to go rogue and replace the advertised crispy red tortilla strips with what is unmistakably – both visually and gustatorily – a regular old crunched up taco shell.

Normally, I would raise a great big stink about such brazen displays of franchisee rebelliousness, but I actually think it works better – conceptually and taste-wise – than it does with the tortilla strips included. And to think, some people say there’s no more ingenuity in the American workplace!

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 4

I hate to close a review by saying something as mundane and nondescriptive as “well, basically, you’re getting what it looks like,” but in the case of the LTB, it really does sorta’ review itself. The taco shell chunks/tortilla strips may be a bit superfluous for some consumers, but you really can’t complain about getting a double – leaning closer to triple – beef burrito.

And you certainly can’t argue about the price point, either – for just $1.50, you’re definitely getting a lot of bang for your buck (and a half, plus applicable state and local taxes.)

(Nutrition Facts – 550 calories, 260 from fat, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1130 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’s basically a double beef burrito at a discounted price. You can have a lot of fun mixing and matching house dressings. It’s definitely a filling little product.
Cons: All in all, it really doesn’t taste that much different from the chain’s other burritos. It’s impossible to eat it without getting seasoned beef juice all over everything. All those nights laying wide awake, wondering how in the hell they’re going to make a Loaded Burrito Taco work.

REVIEW: Arby’s Traditional Greek Gyro

Arby s Traditional Greek Gyro

Thank heavens this isn’t a video review because I’m still not sure how to say gyro correctly.

It got me thinking that I hope one day this item is popular enough to be on the same playing field with something like fajitas, which I can currently call fa-jee-tas but it’s okay because everybody knows I’m saying it wrong on purpose to be funny.

For gyros?? Definitely can’t play that game. If Arby’s new Traditional Greek Gyro is any indicator for what’s in store, though, then our future is looking very lamprós (the Greek word for bright).

This gyro is certainly traditional as there are just the basic set of ingredients you would hope to find in one – the meat, tzatziki sauce, gyro seasoning, red onion, tomatoes, and shredded iceberg lettuce all nestled up in a warm flatbread.

The vegetables were okay and pretty much the type that you would find at most fast food joints. If I had to nitpick it would be wishing that the lettuce could have been a bit crunchier. The tzatziki sauce was abundant bringing the many dry components together but the taste didn’t really punch me in the face with flavor.

Arby s Traditional Greek Gyro 2

The flatbread, well, it pains me to say this because I absolutely love fluffy bread, but in this instance it was just too darn fluffy. My first few bites were nothing but bread until I made it to the center where the insides were more plentiful and could counterbalance.

Arby’s though is all about the meat, right? I mean THEY HAVE THE MEATS don’t they? Living up to their tagline the gyro meat in this was really, really good even if the amount was a bit on the light side. The meat was speckled with herbs and spices and the flavor was seriously spot on. The pieces were even shaped as if they had just been sliced off of a vertical rotisserie! Even with the lackluster other components, the meat definitely made up for them, meaning that I really did enjoy this gyro.

I got two as you can see below in the purchased price and very quickly gobbled both up. I hope it returns in the future, maybe with some new variations. As long as the meat stays as flavorful I would definitely indulge again and hopefully by then I can butcher the pronunciation, but on purpose this time.

(Nutrition Facts – 710 calories, 390 calories from fat, 44 grams of fat,13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1360 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.00 (2 for $6 deal)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Both visually appealing and great tasting meat. Arby’s getting an A in the subject of Attention to Detail. Renewed hope for a future where gyros and fajitas can stand side by side in popularity.
Cons: Too Fluffy flatbread that can sometimes takes over. Shredded lettuce that continues to underwhelm in fast food.