I love Starbucks. I know some of you think they are the evil empire. I know it is expensive. I know a lot of their food is pretty unhealthy. But here’s the thing: they have a drive-through near my house, and let me tell you, having a place where I can get a latte without hauling two small children in and out of the car is a godsend.
This week, Starbucks announced that they are phasing out the use of cochineal in their foodstuffs. If you haven’t heard, cochineal is a vibrant red coloring made from crushed insects. It is currently in several of their foods and drinks–including red velvet whoopie pies, strawberries and cream frappucinos, and birthday cake pops. A bit of a scandal happened after a popular vegan website revealed the use of cochineal, outraging vegans and grossing out a lot of other people.
I, too, was grossed out… but also curious. I decided to try some of this cochineal stuff while I still could. I wanted to see what the coloring looked like up close, and I wanted to see if the knowledge of crushed bugs made the food less enjoyable. Also, I wanted an excuse to eat cake.
The verdict: I don’t mind cochineal being in my food (which is good, because it is in a lot of stuff). We ordered cake pops, and they were pretty and pink. Also, tasty. My one complaint is that the dough seemed a little uncooked inside, so we didn’t finish them (maybe that’s how they’re supposed to be?)…. but that had nothing to do with the cochineal.