It’s here. Rainbow foods have finally hit critical mass.
Starbucks this week unleashed for a limited time a new kaleidoscopic creation in its US stores: The Unicorn Frappucino. It’s already proven to be a hit, going viral across social media.
And it’s not just Starbucks offering its own gastronomical respite from our beige reality. A coffeeshop in New York City’s Williamsburg neighborhood—Brooklyn’s deep-hipster enclave—was recently featured in The New York Times for its popular unicorn latte (paywall)—only a few blocks away from where the controversial rainbow bagel took off. On the other side of the world, in Hong Kong, people went crazy for a bizarre rainbow grilled cheese. Someone even dreamed up a rainbow birthday cake croissant.
Might this colorful contagion, though, have less to do with the innocent, artistic pleasuring of our senses and more to do with our crumbling sociopolitical environment?
In a normal world, the mere color of our foods shouldn’t be indicative of the economic stressors pinching worldviews and pocketbooks. But then, we live in a time when baby-boomer populists in the US and Europe are busy installing politically incorrect leaders whilst tearing away at the fabric of globalization; jobs that allow us to buy these rainbow treats are disappearing to robots; and perhaps even the new technologies that promise virtual escapism from the madness all around us.
And multibillion-dollar brands like Starbucks and Kraft are attempting to capitalize with their rainbow coffees and multi-colored Oreos. As food stylist Adeline Waugh told the Times (paywall), “Sometimes, with everything going on in the world, people just want to play with their food or look at pictures of food that’s brightly colored and happy and fun.”
Starbucks’ new drink is as fleeting as the idea any millennial in America will ever see a social-security check—like a streetwear fashion drop (paywall), the company will yank it from the US market on April 23. So hurry and find solace where you can in the culinary response to Western society’s radiant decay—a slow-burn of economic optimism into frayed, sugar-laden despair.