Starbucks recently attracted plenty of attention due to its brightly-colored, over-sugared Unicorn Frappuccino, a fascinating drink that changes colors and flavors as you drink it. I tried to order it a couple times just to see what it was about, but each time they were out of it, and now they don’t sell it any more, which I take as a sign that I should not be drinking it. And apparently, they’re pretty bad for you. A grande Unicorn Frappuccino contains 59 grams of sugar, more than what the FDA calls a daily recommended intake, setting you up for an inevitably devastating sugar crash. But hey, at least it’s unique, right? Dunkin Donuts certainly isn’t serving anything like this, and I doubt that any small coffee shops in Brooklyn could think of something this creative?
You’d think so, but then you’d be wrong. Back in December, The End, a coffee shop in Williamsburg, started selling a Unicorn Latte, months before Starbucks. Owner Bret Caretsky alleges that Starbucks harmed his business by launching their own version. Caretsky’s lawyer points out that the size of Starbucks offers them an “unfair advantage” in the competition. Starbucks, in response, claims that their Unicorn Frappuccino was inspired by unicorn-themed drinks that have been trending in social media, as opposed to the unicorn-themed drinks that were created by coffee shops in Williamsburg. The End, according to the lawsuit, wants an undisclosed amount of money for damages, as well as a public apology. They had applied for a trademark for its latte in January, but it’s still pending.
Both drinks look pretty similar and use the name “unicorn”, but that’s admittedly where the similarities end. The End’s version uses healthy ingredients such as ginger, spirulina and maca root, which are nowhere to be found in any Starbucks Frappuccino named after a mythical creature. While The End was the first coffee shop to sell a unicorn-branded product, it’s part of a “unicorn” food trend that’s been around for much longer. Furthermore, this isn’t the first time that a New York restaurant has accused Starbucks of taking one of its ideas; in the past, David Chang attacked the coffee giant for stealing the “bagel bombs” from his Milk Bar. I think it’s an unfair thing for a big business to try and hijack a smaller business’s ideas, but what I can tell you is that Both David Chang and Bret Caretsky can take comfort knowing that their versions are a whole lot better.