Starbucks shenanigans- an autumn drink review

Dan Ellis, Staff Writer

With constant publicity across social media platforms such as Instagram, Youtube, and most recently TikTok, Starbucks secret menu drinks have been taking over the nation The real question is, are the secret menu drinks actually consumable, or just a gimmick to boost sales on flavor shots and additives? That’s the question, I set out to answer on a rainy October afternoon.

With borderline harassing headlines such as “New Secret Starbucks Halloween Drink” popped up on my phone, I finally decided to put the drinks to the test. With no trouble whatsoever, I found a website claiming to have found the top best secret menu drinks for the 2020 Halloween season. With beverages entitled, “Wolfman Frappuccino” and “Candy Corn Cold Brew” it was decided, instantaneously, that these beverages would have to be put to the test. I convinced my sister to tag along on the daring adventure, to provide an additional perspective to give the secret spooky drinks their absolute best shot. 

It was decided during the drive that the refreshments being tested were the Frankenstein Frappuccino and Candy Corn Cold Brew, due to the visual appearance of both of them on the website, which advertised the beverages as “yummy fall delights”. In no time at all, I was pulling into the Kroger parking lot, anxious to receive these new “life-changing” drinks and document the findings. A quick stroll past whizzing cars left me standing in front of the relatively small Starbucks kiosk within the grocer, currently being manned by a single employee. I excitedly walked up and began rattling off the complex order, as advised per the website instructions. The Frankenstein Frap was made by adding a single pump of both the peppermint and chocolate mocha flavor to the Matcha Green Tea Creme Frappuccino and adding chocolate chips. The beverage was depicted as a deep green, mimicking the color of Frankenstein quite well. The Candy Corn Cold Brew was made by ordering a pumpkin cream cold brew without the signature vanilla serum, and instead adding two pumps of white chocolate mocha syrup. The complex order seemed to be somewhat familiar to the barista, as he quickly began making the bizarre drink as if it was routine. 

After a sizable wait, the barista delivered the refreshments out the other side of the small shop and presented straws afterward. My first impressions were relatively good, as both drinks looked appetizing. The Frankenstein Frap was spot-on in color, and the blend of chocolate chips encompassing the deep green can be described as nothing short of art. The candy corn cold brew was also quite pretty, with a light cream delicately seated atop the icy liquid. Despite the fact that it had no resemblance to a piece of candy corn, I still gave the beverage the benefit of the doubt, as I thanked the extremely cooperative barista for assisting with my secret menu endeavors. To the car we went, drinks clutched in hand. 

Inside the vehicle, warm and secure, it was finally time to let my inner Gordon Ramsay out as I put on my metaphorical chef hat to critique the beverages. First under scrutiny was the Frankenstein beverage. Sophomore Ashley Ellis cited how the color could be quite off-putting, describing the shade of green as “sickly.” With a few quick tastes by both of us, it was decided that it was quite good. The chocolate chips added great texture and accompanied the matcha flavor marvelously. The hints of mint left behind were pleasing, and I found myself continuing to drink more and more. The same can not be said for the Candy Corn Cold Brew. As a connoisseur of candy corn myself, I had quite lofty standards for the beverage. A delicate sip was followed by a quick recoil, as I cringed at the horrid taste. I took another sip, searching for any nodes of candy corn laying somewhere deep within the overly bitter flavor, with no luck. It was handed over for a second opinion, and I witnessed a recoil that I imagined was similar to mine. We both agreed it was absolutely awful, and potentially the worst thing the pair of us had ever consumed. We conferred for a short period and chalked up our hate for the “candy corn” drink to our mutual distaste for coffee. It was decided that the best judge of the drink would be our parents, both avid coffee drinkers. If there was anything grueling science lectures from middle school taught me, it is that one must avoid bias at all costs. Imagining the glee I would bring to science teachers worldwide, I proceeded home.

As a last-ditch effort to find some redeeming quality in the horrible cold brew drink, I swirled, twirled, and whirled the drink about, hoping that maybe a simple stir was all that was needed to “fix” the beverage. False. I continued the drive home, as the bitter taste plagued my taste buds. I found both coffee experts, and although they seemed confused and somewhat concerned at the hateful rambling coming from their children in regards to the drink, they both obliged to try it. First was Saniya Ellis, a glass-half-full kind of person, met the drink with a degree of positivity as she stated how it simply “tastes like extremely strong, bitter coffee” however, she also added how it “tasted very strange,” and the underlying flavor was “nothing like” she had ever tried before. My father, however, showed no such optimism. After a small sip, he looked remarkably similar to a small child who took a bite out of a particularly bitter lemon. A simple “yuck” was enough to suffice, as the grand jury of sorts had reached a conclusion. With absolutely no candy corn flavor or appearance whatsoever, and a flavor I can only describe as battery acid-like, the drink is, to say the least, an abomination, and the drink should be ashamed of itself for taking on a name such as “candy corn”. 

Overall, the Frankenstein drink was actually quite enjoyable, and with presentation factored in, I would score it a 7.9/10. The same can not be said about its highly caffeinated counterpart. Out of ten, I would say it comes in at a negative three. With not a single admirable quality, the beverage made me question the reputation of whoever created the drink, and even more so of those who praised it. If you want to spice up your spooky season with a fun secret menu item, go for the Frankenstein Frap. If you want to torment your tastebuds, then the Candy Corn Cold Brew is most certainly for you.