Those of you who are regular readers of The Wimpy Vegetarian will no doubt have run across various references to Susan’s spouse, the resolute carnivore. That’s me. I am really an omnivore, but lean (no pun intended) towards the meat-eater side of the table. But I digress.
This is a post about Starbucks, and more specifically, about carbs (an addiction Susan and I share and resist together) and about the role of expectations in fast food consumption. “Hardly an appropriate topic for ‘The Wimpy Vegetarian !” you might be thinking. That’s exactly why this is a guest post: one I begged Susan to allow me to submit for her consideration. This is because I am on a mission: to get the Starbucks Corporation to reinstate my favorite Starbucks foods in their Bay Area coffee shops.
You see, I did not earn a Starbucks Gold Card by being a coffee aficionado: for me it’s either a decaf latte when it’s cold outside, or a mocha light frappuccino when it warms up. I don’t indulge in those elaborate caffeinated concoctions that it takes longer to pronounce than drink. But I regularly walk a mile to Starbucks because I have come to consider Starbucks carbs as second only to ice cream as a favorite way to transiently opt-out of healthier fare and indulge my darker carbivore side.
There’s the chocolate chunk cookie. This cookie is scrumptious, really thick and generous in size, and a single cookie (or its next door neighbor, the double chocolate brownie) can fuel half the drive up from the Bay Area to Tahoe.
For a hasty breakfast carb, there’s the soft and fluffy marble cakes, the pull-apart and melt in your mouth apple fritter, several different types of coffee-cake with wonderful crumbles on top, and the impossible to resist chocolate croissant.
I am sorry if I am spoiling your plans for this evening’s kale surprise, or lovingly created vegetarian bean and spinach kerfluffle supreme, but I’m in crisis mode here. You see, some VP of Snack Foods at Starbucks convinced the company to make a capital investment in its own bakery and begin swapping out all of my favorite carbs for a bunch of substitute wanna-be unmunchables from this fancy-schmancy Frenchified pastryhouse. He (or she) undoubtedly thought they would be able to offer ‘high quality’ consumables to Bay Area Starbucks customers who would jump at the chance to go upscale in their choice of fast-food munchies.
The new chocolate chip cookie looks like an old Spanish doubloon dredged up from the sea bed, the half-a-loaf cakes taste like they were frozen and re-thawed (twice), the chocolate croissant’s chocolate has a pasty consistency, and there was an assortment of strange-looking square savory croissants that are only palatable when warmed (ok, I have to admit the ham and cheese is decent despite the lack of eye appeal).
They even replaced my favorite sandwich (thyme chicken salad) with a new version that had as much lettuce as chicken and some inedible gristle to boot. The new sandwiches may not be from the same recently purchased bakery, but it is still an unwelcome change in my book.
Maybe they did a taste testing before making these moves, but I really doubt it. As carb splurging goes, Starbucks went from a B+ to a C-, at best.
The thing is: when you look to make a quick escape from healthy foods to indulge in a carb or two (hundred), you go one of three ways: (1) If you’re looking to experiment, you go for the fabulous-sounding dessert at a great restaurant. (2) If you need some comforting, you go for your favorite ice cream from your own freezer. (3) If you don’t have the time for the full course hoopla, and you are out and about on errands, you opt for a treat you know you can count on, something that you know will not disappoint.
Fulfilling one’s expectations and consistency is a big part of the reason why fast food companies have succeeded; and if you are going to make a major change in the lineup, it had better be demonstrably better, incontrovertibly more yummy and visually appealing. Starbucks, I can get my decaf latte just about anywhere. Susan, I am counting on you for a tasty tart or two until Starbucks gets its act together and BRINGS BACK MY CARBS.