For a few days this past spring, hordes of mindless entities overran Starbucks locations across North America. A thirsty hivemind in sight of one thing – Instagram likes. The Unicorn Frappuccino became a viral phenomenon, packing stores with teens ready to buy a drink that was handcrafted to pop in selfies and stories.
Stores were flattened by the demand. Locations ran out of ingredients a few days into the promotion. Baristas traded stories of trauma, blending these neon drinks by the dozen for shouting preteen crowds.
In a holiday attempt to recapture that social buzz, Starbucks has introduced the Zombie Frappuccino. With a caramel green apple base, a blood red mocha syrup drizzle, and pink “brain” whipped topping – it’s a sugary delight that will surely dominate your social feed for days to come.
Upon being handed my zombified milkshake, I was a little let down. The red syrup was all clumped at the top, leaving the rest a bland tennis court green. But as the drink started to melt, the blood started to seep down the sides in thin veins. The colors all pop appropriately, creating a spooky edible lava lamp. It’s a great effect, and one that surprisingly doesn’t come at the cost of taste.
While the Unicorn Frap was an overly-sour sugar bomb, the Zombie Frap is far more balanced. The green caramel apple base is very sweet, but tart enough to feel balanced on the tongue. Caramel notes pop in the aftertaste, adding a brown sugar richness.
As the drink melts into the bottom half, the red syrup starts to take more of an active role. It’s got a bitter coffee sting that never dominates the drink, but keeps it from being hauntingly sweet.
The whipped cream topping is the one area where the drink possibly falls short. Rather than the vibrant pink that makes one think of brains, it was closer to a light purple or fuchsia. It’s a minor complaint, but a drink designed for its visuals needs to be judged appropriately. There’s also no added flavor to the whip – just coloring. This was likely a smart choice, as anything else on it may have pushed it over the edge. But as is, it’s a worthy seasonal treat.
(Nutrition Facts – Grande with Whole Milk – 290 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 gram of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 54 grams of sugar, 3 grams of other carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $5.05
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Colors have excellent contrast, creating a great zombie aesthetic. Caramel apple flavor isn’t too sweet. Blood mocha syrup adds a needed caffeine punch.
Cons: Whip wasn’t as pink as advertised. Could have used more coffee than just the dash of syrup. Has as much sugar as two full-size Snickers bars.