Updated Apr 16, 2024 - Business

Starbucks jumps into "swicy" TikTok trend with new drinks

Starbucks drink with red color on top of giant ice cube

Starbucks' Spicy Lemonade Refreshers and Spicy Cream Cold Foam launch April 16. Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks is jumping into the TikTok-driven "swicy" trend — sweet and spicy — Tuesday by raising the heat with a new line of lemonade drinks.

Why it matters: The coffee giant is making a play for Gen Z and millennial consumers who have been embracing the growing sweet-heat fad.

The big picture: Starbucks isn't alone in bringing the heat. Spicy margaritas have been a popular drink for years and hot honey has gone mainstream.

  • Pizza Hut released a Hot Honey Pizza in February.
  • Lay's Sweet & Spicy Honey flavored chips also debuted in February.
  • Arby's, Chick-fil-A, Wendy's and other chains have also been adding more spicy sandwiches to the menu, some as temporary items.

Between the lines: TikTok has fueled the sellouts of viral Trader Joe's mini tote bags and Stanley cups but some trends fade quickly.

  • Starbucks says these drinks will only be available for a "very limited time." Social media hype may play a role in how fast the items vanish.

Dig in: The National Restaurant Association predicted more hot honey menu items and restaurants incorporating social media trends as part of its 2024 What's Hot Culinary Forecast.

  • Monin, a beverage flavoring company, named hot honey as the flavor of the year for 2023.

Starbucks Spicy Refreshers launch Tuesday

Driving the news: Starbucks announced it will release three new Spicy Lemonade Refreshers and a new spicy cream cold foam that can be added to any drink Tuesday at participating U.S. restaurants.

  • The Refresher flavors are spicy dragonfruit, spicy pineapple and spicy strawberry and all include Starbucks Spicy Chili Powder Blend.

Zoom in: Starbucks has found cold drinks to be hot in the U.S. and the majority of its sales.

  • Cold beverages accounted for around 75% of beverage sales in Starbucks U.S. company-operated stores, the company said last year.

Starbucks Spicy Lemonade Refreshers taste test

Our thought bubble via Axios' Ross Terrell, who tried the strawberry and pineapple refreshers Tuesday:

  • "The spice isn't overpowering by any means but it does leave your mouth with a nice tingle," he said.
  • "Why ruin a good thing as classic as strawberry lemonade, but it's not bad," he shared.

Yes, but: Brace yourself for a delayed reaction to the heat as the chili powder may settle at the bottom if you don't reshake your drink.

  • The pineapple had less of a kick and more of a tropical taste, Terrell said.
  • "The strawberry gives you more of a spicy/sweet feel," he said.

More from Axios:

Editor's note: This story was updated with Axios' taste test of the new drinks.

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