Starbucks’ Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino reminds me of all the glorious things I hated in the Beforetimes

Starbucks' new Frappuccino sitting on Starbucks tabletop with whipped cream and red syrup drizzle
Photo: Allison Robicelli

I feel like we all have wondered, at least once in our lives, what it would be like to drink liquefied funnel cake. Truthfully, sometimes the very thought of it seems much more attractive than eating a solid funnel cake, which I am personally terrible at. Perhaps there are people out there able to eat funnel cake without getting powdered sugar on every region of their bodies and have never been chased out of an amusement park by 7,000 bees. Someone at Starbucks must have also been humiliated in front of their high school crush by a bunch of stupid bees, because this year’s summer menu headliner is the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino.


Because people smarter people than me are in charge of things at Starbucks, the new Frappuccino is not made by throwing an entire funnel cake in a blender with ice and heavy cream. This is disappointing but, I suppose, responsible. Instead, it is made by blending coffee, milk, and ice with a few pumps of “funnel cake syrup” (what a time to be alive!), pouring it into a cup filled with layers of strawberry puree and whipped cream, topping it off with more whipped cream and strawberries, and giving it a little sprinkle of “crunchy powdered sugar funnel cake pieces” to make it a bit more festive.

This is the second time in less than a month that a major food brand has tried to make up for a year of lost frivolity by attempting to recreate the carnival experience in my mouth. I appreciate this effort. With TGI Fridays and now Starbucks forcing me to reflect on my past relationships with carnivals, I’ve realized the only memories I have that don’t involve bees are about finding parking, waiting in lines, and spending 30 minutes trying to remember where I parked my car. As such, I applaud the Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino for giving me a way to enjoy the idea of a carnival without actually having to go to one. Unfortunately, of all the rollicking flavors in a fresh fried funnel cake, the note Starbucks chose to infuse into this Frappuccino is “tiny burnt pieces of dough that were lodged in the fry basket for two hours.”

The good news is that, thanks to all that strawberry puree, whipped cream, and ice, there’s very little funnel cake flavor. Though it fails to capture the glorious excesses of the funnel cake experience, it was enjoyable enough not to make me angry I’d spent five bucks and some change on a grande. By playing upon my supposed nostalgia for the carnival, Starbucks helped me remember that many of the things I longed for during quarantine are, in reality, disappointing. I suppose this will be a lesson I learn many more times this year, and, honestly, I couldn’t be happier about it.

Allison Robicelli is a JBFA-nominated food & humor writer, former professional chef, author of four (quite good) books, and The People's Hot Pocket Princess. Need cooking advice? Tweet me @Robicellis.



I’m kind of sad those are your memories about carnivals, Allison. Despite the state fair only happening once a year we had a routine that never deviated:

1. Lie about our age at the ticket booth. We were “under 5" and free for a few years, and then under 10 and discounted for much longer than 5 years. One of us was always being coached about how to lie about our age effectively.

2. Vegetable tempura. No idea why this was a stop right out of the gate. An attempt at eating something with nutrition before we filled up with junk? We shared all our items as a family.

3. Barn yard animals.

4. Corn dog with mustard and iced cold Coke (a treat only permitted at restaurants. We didn’t keep it at home.)

5. Perusing of vendors. Generally mom gave us a specific limit to spend and when it was gone it was gone, so there was much admiring of merchandise and weighing of options. Also a sneaky way to teach kids how to budget and prioritize.

6. Pulled pork sandwich

7. Perusing of vendors continued, followed by purchases

8. Once it was proper dark we did rides. I dislike heights and was only occasionally swayed into the Zipper, which usually my dad and brother rode together. I was a Graviton girl.

9. Fried dough and usually cotton candy.

and then we went home. Because we did the same thing every year, the years sort of blend together but the sensations remain. Nothing tastes as good an ice cold fountain Coke on warm fall afternoon after a bite of corn dog.