In what seems to a be a five-year-old girl’s dream come true, the food industry is turning to unicorns for flavor inspiration. Grocery stores are now stocked with a variety of unicorn-flavored goods that taste like birthday cake, cotton candy, cherry or strawberry.
The colorful creature is popping up on the containers of cereal, ice cream, cake and beverage products everywhere. Kellogg Co. recently came out with a limited-edition unicorn cereal which has loop-shaped puffs that are birthday cake flavored. The company also released limited edition Pop-Tarts Unicorn Power products that feature a unicorn design on the frosting and a cherry filling. McKee Foods Corp. also joined this trend with the introduction of their Little Debbie Unicorn Cakes. In addition, General Mills recently introduced a unicorn marshmallow to their Lucky Charms cereal.
So, what makes this colorful animal the next big flavor of the year? Some food industry professionals claim that Starbucks played a part in this trend when they introduced a Unicorn Frappuccino last year which was inspired by social media shares. The blended beverage featured mango syrup and a sour blue drizzle which looked good enough to generate over 180,000 hits on Instagram.
The Frappuccino was introduced after Starbucks noted a colorful trend on social media. Social influencers could be seen posting colorful pastries, bagels and lattes with pastel and rainbow hues.
“We see the unicorn trend as an evolution of the trend of all things rainbow,” Pinterest told Food Business News last spring, when Starbucks launched the beverage. “You can trace roots back to something as simple as Funfetti cake, which had its own renaissance in recent years and started people on this rainbow kick. On Pinterest, we’ve seen the evolution of these trends over the years, as rainbow food had its moment and made way for this new rush of unicorn food.”
However, if you think about it, traditional unicorns are not rainbow colored at all. The mythical beast is commonly visualized as a white horse with wings and a horn. The colorful aspect of the creature may have been formed after the popular television show My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic made it mainstream. This makes sense considering that the unicorn color trend is popular among millennial consumers who grew up around the time that the show aired.
Now that social media is a huge part of consumer shopping behaviors, the aesthetic qualities of food products play a key role in product sales. Vivid colors can be seen all over social media accounts as pigmented ingredients such as spirulina and charcoal become popular “superfoods.”
It seems that this trend is due to 90s nostalgia and social media shares. Food Business News believes that the next trend (or should I say, mythical creature) will be mermaid inspired foods.