Get Your Bugs at Starbucks While You Still Can!

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.

Starbucks says they are going to replace cochineal with the well loved, health-conscious lycopene. I guess I’ll have to try that, too.