Expectations vs. Reality: My Starbucks Birthday Cake Frappuccino Story

Sometimes in life, you realize that you can't have your cake and eat it drink it, too. That epiphany came to me as I sipped on Starbucks's limited-edition Birthday Cake Frappuccino ($5 for a grande), which is available for this week only as a celebration of the frozen drink's 20th birthday. After seeing gorgeous photos of the colorful frozen treat all morning, I was incredibly excited to get a taste of one myself. I had very high expectations, but did the Birthday frappuccino live up to them? In a word: no.


Compared to the festive promotional images that Starbucks has been circulating, my drink was pretty pathetic. I'm unsure if my Starbucks location had simply run out of the raspberry-infused whipped cream promised on the menu, but the frappuccino I received looked more plain than a glass of milk. The blended vanilla bean and hazelnut portion of the drink was everything that the ads promised, but the overall effect was more along the lines of melted vanilla soft serve than birthday cake. Even in the chilly weather, my entire frappuccino was melted within two minutes — sipping the celebratory beverage felt more like I was drinking liquid disappointment.

Perhaps my experience is a good life lesson: if you set your expectations too high, people — or in this case, drinks — are bound to disappoint you. I much prefer having my low expectations blown out of the water (case in point: Jack in the Box's buttery burger) than being let down. But regardless of my feelings about the Birthday Cake flavor, the Starbucks Frappuccino definitely deserves a happy birthday . . . 20 years is a huge accomplishment! Better luck with the commemorative drink next time.