We have to talk. Starbucks has just released a new drink in partnership with Pokemon™ GO, and it’s a problem. Pokemon is aimed at young people, and this drink, absent of bitter coffee and flavored with vanilla, raspberry syrup and freeze-dried blackberries, is a brilliant ploy to bring younger people into Starbucks’ stores to indoctrinate them nice and early on the Starbucks lifestyle.
But with the emphasis on “fruit” in this drink as opposed to coffee or chocolate, I would wager that quite a few adults might give pause to consider whether this might be a healthier choice than, say, a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Let’s take a closer look:
A Grande 16-oz Pokemon™ GO Frappuccino® Blended Beverage with whole milk and whipped cream has a whopping 69 grams of sugar. To compare this with the beloved PSL, a 16-oz with whole milk and whip contains 50 grams of sugar. I never thought I’d say these words, but the PSL is actually a better choice! Still a HORRIFIC and nutritionally disastrous choice, but all things being relative, it’s a 28% better choice if we’re just considering sugar.
Let’s put the sugar in the Pokemon drink into context:
A 16-oz bottle of Coke has 25% LESS sugar than this purple beast with 52 grams of sugar
The American Heart Association recommends children under 18 should consume no more than 24 grams of added sugar per day, meaning that this drink will knock out more than two days worth of sugar—really closer to three!
And for adults, the recommended daily added sugar limit for men is 36 grams and 24 for women.
I’m no fan of calorie counting, but calories in vs calories out is a fact of life when it comes to weight management. With whole milk and whipped cream, this bad boy is a whopping 450 calories, representing nearly a quarter of the recommended calories for a grown woman and close to 20% of the daily needs for a man. But because this is a beverage not a food you’ll eat with a knife and fork, likely it won’t be very satiating. And with the high dose of sugar, a blood sugar spike and crash might actually make you hungrier in the hours after you consume it.
But Lauren, my Starbucks defenders will say: You’re looking at the whole milk and whipped cream version. Swapping to nonfat milk takes the calories down a chunk and removes the wad of cloggy, mouth-coating saturated fat. But the sugar doesn’t budge. If we remove the whip, you’ll do yourself the great favor of removing a 4 grams of sugar, the equivalent of a teaspoon, but you’re still working with 66 grams of sugar. Bump down to a 12-oz with nonfat milk and no whip, and you’re still looking at the equivalent of nearly a quarter cup of added sugar.
As obviously terrible as this product is from a nutrition standpoint, I have no doubt it is insanely delicious, and I have no doubt that people of all ages will be slurping these down like they’re going out of style. And I hope they are…but I expect they’re not.