Let's Talk Starbucks' Unicorn Frappuccino (and Other Food Trends)

May 18, 2017

If for whatever reason you’ve been away from the Internet for a month or so, first of all, welcome back! Second, you’ve missed basically two things: fidget spinners and Starbucks’s Unicorn Frappuccino. What’s a fidget spinner? Eh, don’t worry about it. What’s a Unicorn Frappuccino? It’s a multi-colored, extremely sugary “beverage” that lit the Internet on fire with its radioactive appearance, allure for Instagram moments, and penchant for memery. Its relatively low supply and extremely high demand made it a thing of legend almost immediately—even though most people seemed appalled by its extremely unhealthy nutritional tableHowever, like most modern food trends, the pros—a.k.a. the mere fact that it exists in the first place—far outweigh the artery-clogging cons. So, in honor or Starbucks’ Chernobyl-inspired “drink,” we wanted to reflect on a few other favorite food trends over the past few years.

The McRib

Probably the most famous of the fast food trends (chill Taco Bell fans), the McRib is highly sought after, vaguely edible, and rarely in supply. In fact, when it’s back in supply at Ronald’s burger joint, it somehow becomes national news. Why? For the less skeptical, the answer is simple: it’s really good. It’s basically a pork patty in the shape of ribs (weird) with BBQ sauce. For the naysayers among us, it’s more about novelty. Again, the McRib is always a limited-time deal, so the opportunity to get one becomes more of a privilege than any other item on the McDonald’s menu—so much so that people sometimes drive great lengths to get their hands on this bizarre delicacy.


Unlike the McRib, which seems to defy all sensible logic, the “Cronut” is one of those no brainer inventions that more than one person probably thought of while eating either a donut or a croissant. However, the guy who officially brought it to life is New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel. The only place you can officially get a “Cronut” (the name of which has been trademarked) is at his bakery in New York (Dominique Ansel Bakery). But let’s be honest: if you’re at a donut shop and you see something on the menu called a “croissantnut,” a “donussant,” or a “buttery, flaky, croissant-like donut,” you’d be wise to submit your taste buds to its buttery, sugary divinity because croissandonuts are absolutely delightful.

Avocado Toast

The only healthy food craze on this list, avocado toast is just beginning its descent from the peak of a mass meme food craze. According to New York Magazine (or maybe just Kat Stoeffel of NYMag, since this doesn’t seem to be the most hard-hitting headline in the world), avocado toast is “the most annoying food on Instagram.” Why so annoying? For starters, the original trend of slathering grained toast with green paste and snapping it for Instagram was started by Olivia Wilde. Not that there’s anything wrong with Olivia Wilde, but any health food trend that begins with a celebrity endorsement only encourages a sense of dietary shame among people who would rather eat an omelet instead of a semi-healthy piece of toast. Plus, once Olivia Wilde began the Instatrend, avocado toast became the proverbial porridge of the white, wealthy, Fyre Festival-attending hipster class. And that’s unfortunate, because avocado toast is actually a wonderfully healthy breakfast option that now has a stigma associated with it—when it really should just be considered delicious.

McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce

McDonald’s Szechuan sauce is the biggest anomaly on this list, not only because it’s a completely new food phenomenon, but because it took almost 20 years since it vanished to become one. Here’s the deal: on April 1st, 2017, the wildly popular Adult Swim show Rick and Morty premiered the first episode of Season 3 for only one exciting day. McDonald’s Szechuan sauce, a limited-time offering back in 1998 to celebrate the premiere of Disney’s Mulan, played a key role in the plot of the episode—and it was hinted that the sauce could become a core part of plots for several seasons to come. Why? Because Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are geniuses, that’s all. However, after the episode aired, Rick and Morty fans immediately started demanding that the Szechuan sauce be brought back—and it’s been reported that a packet from 1998 sold for almost $14,000 on eBay. Wubba lubba dub dub!

What food trends are we forgetting? Share ‘em below.