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Starbucks’ Christmas Tree Frappuccino tastes like broken promises and Thin Mints

Hiro Komae | AP
Hiro Komae | AP
This photo shows Starbucks' cups with a new design at a Starbucks coffee shop in New York on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. If this year's Starbucks holiday cup wasn't red enough, the chain is releasing another one this week that's mostly that color. The new cup, in stores for a limited time, has a white heart in the middle and an illustration of two hands making a heart shape.
By Maura Judkis, Washington Post
Updated:

You thought Starbucks was waging a war on Christmas when, in 2011, the company’s holiday cups featured nutcrackers that bore a coincidental resemblance to the Guy Fawkes mask, at the time a symbol of Occupy Wall Street. You thought Starbucks was taking the Christ out of Christmas when its 2015 cups were plain red to be inclusive of all holiday celebrations.

You thought wrong. Its new holiday drink, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino, is here to say: The battle has only just begun.

[Starbucks releases a holiday cup you can color yourself]

The Christmas Tree Frappuccino, which debuted Thursday, is the latest in 2017’s miserable slog of Instagrammable drinks known more for the mythical creatures and flora they supposedly resembled, rather than their flavors, which were immaterial. There was the Unicorn Frappuccino, which tasted like sour birthday cake and shame, followed by the Dragon Frappuccino, the Cherry Blossom Frappuccino, the Zombie Frappuccino, Vampire Frappuccino, and, after we barely escaped pumpkin spice season alive, finally, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino.

The drink is a mocha-peppermint milkshake with a matcha whipped cream topped with caramel drizzle (the garland), candied cranberry (the ornaments) and a strawberry on top (the star atop the tree).

It looks like chocolate milk topped with wasabi. Or the part of a seven-layer dip where the beans touch the guacamole. It’s the color of ’70s bathrooms and Oscar the Grouch. It precisely matches several shades on this “guide to mold colors and what they mean.” For the record: Green is “just about any type of unwelcome fungus,” brown can “very rarely … cause brain infections.” Which makes sense, because this is only one shade away from the color scheme for the Zombie Frappuccino.

Once you get the flavor of broken promises out of your mouth, it’s not all bad news: Despite the pukey colors, this is one of the better-tasting stunt drinks that Starbucks has pulled off. It tastes like melted mint chocolate chip ice cream. If you like Thin Mints, you will like this drink – but maybe not the 420 calories that come with a grande, or medium-sized, cup. (The first casualty in Starbucks’s war on Christmas: our waistlines.)

Last year, on the campaign trail, President Trump addressed the critically important issue of Starbucks’s holiday cups.

“That’s the end of that lease,” he said at a rally, referring to the Starbucks in Trump Tower, which is still operating. “If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again, that I can tell you.”

It looks like he has gotten his wish — but at the expense of a drink that looks like the Grinch.

The Christmas Tree Frappuccino is available through Dec. 11, at participating stores, as supplies last.

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