The Mexican and South American tropical creepy-crawlies were dried and then processed into a coloring product that gave some Starbucks goods – including strawberry banana smoothies, raspberry swirl cakes, birthday cake pops, mini doughnuts with pink icing and red velvet whoopee pie – their rosy hue.
But it wasn’t vegan. It wasn’t kosher. It was also just kind of gross, according to the thousands of Starbucks customers who decided they weren’t adventurous enough to stomach the ingredient. (Maybe the color is part of it – consumer outcry also caused several retailers to recently strip meat products known as pink slime from their shelves.)
By the end of June, cochineal insect dye will be no more at Starbucks. The Seattle company will replace it with a tomato extract called lycopene.
“As our customers you expect and deserve better – and we promise to do better,” wrote Starbucks' U.S. President Cliff Burrows in a blog post Thursday.