October 18, 2018
When individuals think of fast-food chains, places like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken come to mind. Rarely, however, does anyone ever think of Starbucks.
Starbucks hides behind the facade of a quiet, quaint little coffee shop when in reality it and other chains like McDonald’s have a lot more in common than people realize.
The two multi-billion dollar corporations are practically inescapable. Whether you are in the United States, Hong-Kong, Chile, you name it, chances are one of those entities will be on the nearest street corner. Their intense branding, unique logos and avid expansion have helped set them apart from their competitors.
People usually think of Starbucks as a harmless habit. Upon entering any location, however, you come face-to-face with a glass case packed full of pastries and sweets. Starbucks does not have nearly as bad of a reputation as McDonald’s—there’s no “SuperSize Me” exposing them yet. God forbid you go to McDonald’s, but Starbucks, yeah that’s okay.
Apart from the pastries, a number of Starbucks drinks have an exorbitant amount of sugar in them. The American Heart Association suggests that women consume roughly 24 grams of sugar a day and men, 36 grams. A grande Mocha Frappuccino has 61 grams of sugar in it, and for a few cents more you can upgrade to 81 grams with a venti. That is almost quadruple the recommended amount of sugar for women. In comparison, an Oreo McFlurry from McDonald’s only has three more grams of sugar.
Frappuccinos, however, are an easy target. Other drinks such as a Grande Chai Latte still have an exceedingly high amount of sugar—42 grams to be exact. For a single 16 ounce drink, that’s a lot of sugar.
Other drinks that have more than 30 grams of sugar include the infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte, White Chocolate Mochas, Caramel Macchiatos and Vanilla Lattes. Starbucks is not the only company guilty of this practice. Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons, Peet’s Coffee and even your local cafes also serve drinks with high amounts of sugar in them.
Smoothies and energy drinks suffer from the same problem. For example, a medium Strawberries Wild Smoothie from Jamba Juice contains 75 grams of sugar.
For some reason, we do not associate the same amount of shame with these places as we do with McDonald’s. I would never enter the drive-thru at McDonald’s alone. It would be too embarrassing. However, I routinely go through the Starbucks drive-thru with almost a sense of pride.
Even though Starbucks and Jamba Juice are in some respects as unhealthy as McDonald’s, they do a better job of targeting an audience that thinks more highly of themselves.
That’s another thing—unlike McDonald’s, Starbucks and Jamba Juice are expensive. Some of the more elaborate drinks from Starbucks can cost as much as $5.25. Prices tend to range even higher at places like Jamba Juice.
McDonald’s, on the other hand, is famous for their dollar menu. The differences in price most likely contributes to different stigmas guiding how we view the chains. The more expensive the drinks are, the classier the chain, or at least that is what we convince ourselves.
The next time you go get something to eat or drink, wherever that may be, I encourage you to look past the brand and instead check the nutritional facts.
Celia Martinez is a sophomore political science and communication double major and is editor of the Opinion section.