Why Starbucks’ secret ‘Pink Drink’ is becoming an Instagram sensation

Starbucks’ marketing has the ability to drive people crazy (see: last year’s red cup backlash and awkward barista conversations around race). But the latest viral phenomenon to come from the java slinger arose organically online, among tea-hacking fans.

It’s called a “Pink Drink,” an off-the-menu beverage hack concocted by the internet, which swaps out water with coconut milk in a Strawberry Acai Refresher tea. That sounds nasty, but apparently it’s not, given the internet’s obsession with it.

The drink is sparking frenzy on social media for its taste (a person compared it to Starbucks’ version of a strawberry Nesquick)  and Instagram-ready aesthetic.

On Instagram, there are hundreds of pictures from fans promoting the drink with the tag #pinkdrink:

Let’s see what all the hype is about #pinkdrink #starbucks

A photo posted by BEBE VU – Makeup&Lash Artist (@missbebevu) on

My brother texted me at 8am this morning and said “Go to Starbucks and ask for the pink drink and see what happens. Then put it on Instagram.” He had heard about it on the radio. As a good little sister and a very curious soul, I dragged @annephung with me in search of this “pink drink.” Turns out- it’s off the secret menu and not even all the employees knew what the heck I was talking about! But they made it happen!! So this is a #stirandsmile with the PINK DRINK- STRAWBERRY ACAI TEA WITH COCONUT MILK (I added dried strawberries and fresh blackberries). It’s so refreshing especially when it’s hot out! Thanks, ricecooler for ordering me to go, and thanks, @annephung for my TRENTA drink (news to me that they have an XL size now)! It’s all on Snapchat at StirandStyle!

A photo posted by June Quan, Esq. (@stirandstyle) on

The same sugar-fueled sentiment is echoed on Twitter, too:

Starbucks Secret Menu, a fan website that tracks the Internet’s affection with the chain, says that the drink’s social media popularity is making the phrase “Pink Drink” instantly familiar with baristas without having the need to explain how to make them off-the-menu option. If they don’t know how, point them to posts published by Bustle, and Brit and Co. with instructions.

Starbucks didn’t immediately reply for comment. But the chain revels in these menu hacks whipped up by its massive internet following because it basks them in free and positive publicity, a welcomed change after its bungled changes to its rewards program earlier this year.


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