On the morning of July 10th, the Starbucks Tie-Dye Frappuccino sprang into existence, and all of humanity was instantly split into two camps: those who had tried it and those who had not. Yesterday, I joined the ranks of the Tie-Dye Frap Guild.
As I walked the almost-full city block between my apartment and the nearest Starbucks, my anticipation mounted—or was it desperation? The air felt stagnant and a few degrees too warm. Having just gone for a run earlier, I was on the brink of dehydration. This could be good, I thought. This could be just what I need.
These days, I do not regularly consume sugary, slurped beverages. But I remember fondly the summers of my youth, most of which were spent in my seaside hometown of Marshfield, Massachusetts. After four or five hours of playing on the beach under the hot sun, a thirst would burn in my throat that only a Slurpee could quench. By the time I begged my parents for money, crossed the Busy Road, and entered the convenience store, I’d be ravenous. The machines were against the back wall: two towers, one red, one blue, each beckoning me with a whirring metal arm. I’d wrap my hand halfway around the jumbo styrofoam cup and stick it under the blue faucet. Then the red. Then the blue. Then the red. Then the blue. Then I’d plunge the scoop-bottom straw into the morass cup, not quite to the bottom, and partake, eyes rolling back in ecstasy as I glided back into the summer heat.
All I wanted was for my Tie Dye Frappuccino to be vaguely—faintly—reminiscent of those endless summer days. Reader, I did not get what I expected. But if Starbucks didn’t want me to form unrealistic expectations, perhaps they shouldn’t have claimed their refreshing beverage looked like this:
Look at that! It’s a carnival! It’s the antidote to the world’s ills! It looks like it was meant to be released during Pride Month but then Starbucks saw a bunch of tweets mocking corporations for cashing in on the centuries-long struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and decided (nimbly!) to wait until a week after Pride to release their amazing technicolor dream slush—almost as if to say, “The struggle is over! The pinnacle is achieved! All the nastiness is behind us now!”
Anyway. I was relieved that, at around four o’clock, when I entered the establishment, this particular Starbucks was pretty sparsely populated. I’m not overly macho, but as I ordered my Tie-Dye Frappuccino, I did to radiate the vibe that it was for my niece. I also had a hunch this was a tedious item to concoct, which was confirmed by the barista’s suppressed groan when the cashier informed her of what “Brenden” wanted.
Here it is:
I know, I know. My nail beds. I’ve got to stop biting.
As for the Tie-Dye Frappuccino? I think it looks completely fine, actually, but its own self esteem is in ruins. It’s saying, “I know what you were hoping for, and I’m sorry,” as it bursts into tears. And I’m telling it it’s okay, it’s okay, but inside I’m seething, wondering who hurt it.
I did feel self-conscious holding it, mainly because of its trendiness. I didn’t want passersby to think, “You went and got that thing?” Fortunately, I don’t think they would recognize it from the ad. I sat down on a nice park bench and took a sip. Here is the last known picture of me before I tasted a Tie-Dye Frappuccino:
And here is the first picture of me in this new stage of my life:
Uh oh, I don’t think I like it….
Wait. Do I?
It did not transport me to my childhood, but it did remind me of something I was able to identify a bit later: the one time I tried a honeydew-flavored boba tea when I was living in Los Angeles. It kind of tasted like that, but with maybe half the sweetener. So if you think you might like that kind of thing, you might like this! But I doubt that’s helpful for most of you, so I’ll try again.
It tasted like Fruity Pebbles released a limited-edition cotton candy flavor, then somebody ate one bowl of it, then dumped more cereal into the leftover milk, then used the doubly leftover milk to make imitation ice cream. Again, if you like that kind of thing? How wonderful for you! In the end, I plowed through the remainder to just to give myself brain freeze.
And then I finished! Don’t cry because it happened, smile because it’s over.
Imagery courtesy of Starbucks and Brandon Borror-Chappell.