A Chicago family tries the Unicorn Frappuccino

This week’s blog post is by The Paternity Test co-host Matt Boresi, who lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with his wife (“Professor Foster”) and their 5-year-old daughter Viva, who is drank a Unicorn Frappe and flew herself to preschool.

Yesterday I picked Viva up from ballet in Andersonville and contemplated a very bad idea: “Perhaps I should get her one of those Unicorn Frappuccinos from Starbucks?” Have you seen these? Available until Sunday only, they are a 16-ounce ombre slurry that I would assume she would enjoy because she is a 5-year-old girl and the drink looks like someone made a smoothie out of her bedroom.

She’d just gotten an hour of poise and exercise, so I thought she could use a treat. Nothing says, “congratulations on your grace and athleticism” like a 410 calorie glass of juvenile diabetes.

I didn’t have to go to Starbucks, though, because at the first red light I saw three young ladies holding Starbucks cups that looked like Rainbow Bright’s Color Kids and the Care Bears held a key party in them.

“Excuse me, how do you like the frappes?” I shouted out the window, like a 21st century #dadlife take on a Grey Poupon ad.

“We love them!” they squealed. (In retrospect, I think they were either pranking me or just high on 59 grams of sugar.) “They gave us an extra one–do you want it?”

And they handed me one through my passenger window. It was kind of them–I think–although I’m guessing the barista was just doling them out quickly hoping to run out of fuchsia syrup so they could get back to making respectable drinks. If you’re reading this, Frappuccino Samaritans of Andersonville, my daughter thanks you sincerely.

Now, what are “Unicorn Foods” and why is Starbucks straying from their normal earthtone beverage palette? Our own Stephanie Benavidez will be covering local unicorn foods in May, and I don’t want to get the jump on her, but I’ll give you a little context … last year, the year your favorite celebrities as well as democracy died, an equally unfortunate trend began with “rainbow foods.” These were normal foods like bagels or grilled cheese, but dyed with rainbow stripes using natural dyes like beetroot, chlorophyll and blueberry powder. The result nestled comfortably in a Venn diagram between two of America’s favorite trends: health food and Instragram-friendly eats. While the natural dyes don’t really add nutrition to the food, they aren’t as headache- and ADHD-inducing as normal food coloring, so they allow us to be both sanctimonious AND narcissistic on social media. This year, the trend has made the 20 percent twist to being called “Unicorn Foods” – it’s basically rainbow foods but mostly in baby blue, lavender, and pink, with sparkles and marshmallows. A “twee-eat,” if you will. I won’t.

If a trend has reached Chicago, you can be sure it has peaked somewhere else, and there’s already a Unicorn Food café in Bangkok. One night in Bangkok and the world’s your marshmallow sparkle oyster satay.

Starbucks describes the ingredients as “magical flavors” and “pink and blue fairy powders.” I’m just curious how long it took them to milk so many unicorns. Unicorns are basically horses, and horses only have two teats which produce less than a quart of lactation a day. There are a LOT of Starbucks, even if the offer is only five days. Plus, if unicorn frapp is anything like unicorn blood, Harry Potter warns us that “you will have but a half-life, a cursed life, from the moment [it] touches your lips.” I guess the offer at least created a lot of jobs in the cryptozoological dairy industry.

On to the taste test. We brought the drink home to Professor Foster (that’s my wife), and she and Viva took a drink. No one got to describe it until everyone had some, and so, I closed my eyes and quaffed a $5 cup of clown vomit.

It tasted to me like liquefied Sweet Tarts or Smarties. (Which have dubious value even in solid form.) If you like Sweet Tarts, Pixie Sticks, Fun Dip (formerly Lick-m-Aid) and the like, this might be the drink for you. I don’t like candy. I don’t like anything, really, and that is why I blog.  The Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino looks and tastes like someone said, “This Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper is great at holding my folders and pencils, but I wish it were a DRINK.”

“If it was served to me at a party, I wouldn’t be rude,” Professor Foster professed, “I like it okay.”

“And you, Viva?” I asked.

“I like it okay just like Mommy,” she said, and then drank half of it in one pull. Pretty sure she was being coy, because it’s the fastest I’ve ever seen a preschooler get half their daily allowance of saturated fat.

The effects of a 35 pound child drinking this pixie dust nitro charge were immediate. Viva took off like a shot and proceeded to roll back and forth in a desk chair, painting her room while studying like when Alex P. Keaton tried drugs. It was 7 p.m. when I rolled out this chalice of madness–I had chosen poorly—so she wouldn’t go to bed and actually got to school late today.  Eventually she gripped me with both arms and said, “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m s0 … scared!” and everyone at Bayside learned an important lesson.

I was afraid my few sips would turn me into a Brony or something, but when I woke up I hadn’t gotten “Friendship is Magic” tattooed in gothic script across my abs, so I guess I’m okay.  I also noticed that Professor Foster left early for the gym this morning.

There you have it. It tastes like it looks, and it looks like a blood transfusion in a Katy Perry video. If that sounds appealing, this is the drink for you. If you’re reluctant to spend $5 on something that will probably make your toes numb, I’m sure if you wait a week, Dunkin’ Donuts will have one for $2.50.

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