Do Americans ever grow up? Rainbow-colored foods like new Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino are all the rage — for adults.
This isn’t exactly what health experts meant when they said we should “eat the rainbow.”
Everything from bagels to churros to toast looks like it passed through a unicorn lately.
Starbucks is the latest to join the rainbow connection. The Unicorn Frappuccino prances into stores from April 19 through 23, with blended crème colored with pink powder, sweetened with mango syrup, and swirled with sour blue drizzle. A tall drink packs 280 calories.
— ❄️Nasty Suzette ❄️ (@SuzetteLT) April 16, 2017
“Like its mythical namesake, the Unicorn Frappuccino blended crème comes with a bit of magic, starting as a purple beverage with swirls of blue and a first taste that is sweet and fruity,” the coffee chain wrote in a press release. “But give it a stir and its color changes to pink, and the flavor evolves to tangy and tart. The more swirl, the more the beverage’s color and flavors transform.
— Surina Kelly (@SurinaRadio) April 18, 2017
This is to be expected in children’s treats, like Cow Candy’s fruity new Monterey Jack cheese snacks that come in fruit punch (red), grape (purple) and orange-strawberry (orange) flavored-sticks with characters like the Transformers and My Little Pony printed on the packaging.
After all, science shows young children are drawn to bright primary colors like red, yellow and blue, and secondary colors like orange, green and purple – essentially, rainbow hues. A 2012 study even found kids prefer plates with six different colors of food on them, and infants recognize colors before they can speak. Hence the marketing genius behind Crayola-colored cereals like Froot Loops, Trix and Fruity Pebbles, not to mention Skittles (which literally invites you to “taste the rainbow”) and those McDonald’s golden arches.
But apparently tastes haven’t changed much for nostalgic adult babies missing their 80s and 90s-era Lisa Frank school supplies crawling with pink, purple and turquoise unicorns. Lisa Frankenfoods have flooded blogs and social media feeds with celestial blue galaxy doughnuts, sea green mermaid toast and indigo unicorn noodles.
I guess mermaid toast is officially a thing if @foodandwine did a feature on it… what!? 😳 🌊 Beyond flattered…the name sticks for this aquatic creation. I feel like I'm about to go on a mild rant: So, this happened when I put unicorn toast out there too… there will be so many wonderful comments and articles covering it- but then there are also so many people and articles hating on it; saying it's "silly" and asking, "why?" Or "who has time for that?!" Let me just put this out there: I am just having fun! I am a food stylist and I like to create beautiful things using food- I've never claimed to be starting a trend or a putting out a new recipe that is super practical- it's 100% impractical, I just like to play around in the kitchen and attempt to create something aesthetically pleasing and unique from time to time. Also, I don't know about you, but with everything going on in the world today, sometimes I just want to look at some colorful food. Okay- rant over, phew 🙌🏻 I shouldn't even pay attention to the negativity when there's so much positivity from everyone out there, and for that- I'm extremely appreciative! ❤️ Link in bio to check out the F&W article on #mermaidtoast #vibrantandpure
@ktweber2: "I eat glitter for breakfast!!! And unicorns. And rainbows." 🦄s & 🌈s. CHECK OUT THE ORIGINAL RAINBOW BAGEL THAT BROKE THE INTERNET ONLY @ 754 METROPOLITAN AVENUE, BROOKLYN OR RAINBOWBAGEL.COM⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ FOR NATIONWIDE SHIPPING⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ••⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ FOR CUSTOM EVENT BAGEL ART ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ TheBagelArtist.com ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ••⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Enjoy the world's most beautiful bagel!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ TheBagelStore.com⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ @thebagelstore #rainbowbagel #unicorn #unicornbagel #eatglitterforbreakfast #sprinkles #stars #wishonastar #teal #pattern #delicious #deliciousness #livethelifeyouwant #vegan #vegancreamcheese #food #TheBagelStore #Williamsburg #NYCBagels #foodies #foodpic #brooklyneats #Brooklyn #family #friends #followme #NYC #photooftheday #picoftheday #weekend #bagel
And a 2010 Berkeley study found that people asked to rank 32 colors tended to prefer brightly saturated hues, with bright reds, blues and green being the overwhelming favorites.
“These colors make [unicorn foods] look bold and exciting,” NPD Group food consumption analyst Darren Seifer explained to Moneyish. “We also in general like to see different colors. It helps us distinguish our food from dog food. It looks so much more appetizing than just a plain brown.”
He noted that even as adults are increasingly concerned about eating artificial colors, with some 37% saying they’re trying to cut back on food dyes this year, they tend to ease up on the dietary restrictions when it comes to treating themselves to a whimsical dessert. [Plus, unicorn noodles are colored with all-natural red cabbage water, so they’re guilt-free.]
Today's lunch took a strange turn! Haha I was inspired to make some unicorn noodles after seeing a little how-to by @theindigokitchen (seriously, so easy!) so, I weirded my dad out and served these up! Hahaha . I should really be packing rather than food experimenting…as I move next week! Oops 🙊🙊🙊. . Hope you're all having a magical weekend 😊💗💜🦄💕🌈✨. . #unicornfood #unicornnoodles #magic
“These days, we’re seeing more and more people looking for having an experience with their food,” Seifer said. “It’s not just about food for sustenance, but it’s also about food that excites the senses. Is it visually appealing? Does it smell fantastic? Does it bring back fond memories upon consuming it?”
Which feeds into the fact that these Manic Panic dyes look incredible on Instagram, no filter needed.
Even restaurants have hopped on the Technicolor train. The Fat Monk gastropub in Manhattan mixes a $13 hot pink “My Lisa Frank Notebook” cocktail garnished with a rainbow-haired unicorn. But don’t judge this cocktail completely by its color: the vodka and mezcal-based drink infused with serrano pepper comes with a kick.
This unicorn #cocktail at The Fat Monk is the brainchild of beverage director, Cody Goldstein of Muddling Memories….
“It’s one of our best sellers,” Fat Monk’s Jonathan Chang told Moneyish, noting that they pour 20 to 30 of them most nights. “When we present things that would get a young 4-year-olds attention, it frankly gets the same kind of attention out of a 45-year-old. People love that bright pink drink with a unicorn that harks back to your Trapper Keeper days.”
And the End cafe in Williamsburg serves a $9 unicorn latte of steamed coconut milk, cold press lemon juice and Maqui berry mixed with E3 Live, a blue green algae, which creates the enchanting blue color.
“Well, we are definitely all kids at heart so why wouldn’t we want to eat food that is colorful, bright and whimsical?” End co-founder Madeleine Murphy told Moneyish.
She added that, “with so much going on in the world, sometimes you want to look at beautiful and brightly colored food because it makes you feel happy.”
Unicorn bottoms up.
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