Christmas Tree Frappuccino

The Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino, much like your own Christmas tree, was perishable, available in stores only for five days over the holidays.

Every Christmas season, Starbucks puts out a limited-run holiday drink, a gift directed at all the weird food aficionados out there like myself. Normal people can have their eggnog lattes, peppermint mochas and the new toffee almond milk hot cocoa (guys, it’s already hot cocoa, just leave it alone). We want to take a walk on the wild side while shopping for presents.

Last year it was the Fruitcake Frappuccino, which I correctly described as like an “ugly sweater in a glass.” This year it’s the Starbucks Christmas Tree Frappuccino ($5.54 for a grande), which went on sale last Thursday and will be put out on the curb, so to speak, after Monday.

I’m here to report that the Christmas Tree Frappuccino looks crazier than it is, at least by the standards of last year’s Fruitcake Frappuccino. That was a hazelnut frappuccino that had pieces of dried fruit mixed in, which was a very strange experience to try to drink through a straw.

The base of the Christmas Tree Frappuccino is a peppermint mocha frappuccino, no fruit added. Granted, drinking a peppermint mocha frappuccino too fast is kind of like getting punched in the face by someone with a fistful of frozen Breath Savers, and it’s no different here. But it’s a seasonally appropriate punch in the face.

Plus, as you’re slurping away, you’re distracted by the craziness that is the Christmas Tree Frappuccino toppings getting lower and lower, sinking closer and closer to your straw. And that’s when things get weird.

To simulate a Christmas tree, the drink is topped with a pyramid of green matcha-infused whipped cream. (I’m convinced Starbucks keeps matcha on hand solely to add green coloring to concoctions like this.) Then they add a drizzle of caramel (the tinsel?), some candied cranberries (the ornaments, I guess?) and put a strawberry on top, which is supposed to represent a star. However, I like to think that it’s an homage to the giant meatball that David Letterman would put on top of the “Late Show” Christmas tree every year, and then he and the late Jay Thomas would take turns throwing footballs at it and try to knock it off.

Caramel, cranberry, strawberry, matcha — that is a lot of different and not necessarily complementary flavors to pack into one mouthful and it doesn’t taste that good. I guess I should be grateful that nobody thought to include a pine scent into the mix.

This is not the Christmas tree at your neighbor’s house, where the lights are all pearly white, and the ornaments are all coordinated and evenly spaced. This is your tree, the one that’s covered in a hodgepodge of store-bought and kid-made ornaments, where a Santa Darth Vader hangs next to a lopsided snowflake you made in kindergarten that Mom doesn’t have the heart to throw out.

In other words, it’s Christmas in all its messy glory. Sure, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino is kind of weird, and much like the tree in your living room, starts to look a little sad and deflated rather quickly. But Christmas would seem a little more normal, and therefore a little emptier, without it.

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Rob Thomas is the features editor and social media editor for the Capital Times, as well as its film critic. He joined the Cap Times in 1999 and has written about movies, music, food and books.