dopamine betrayals and supply chain mermaids

unsnackable vol. 42



Jul 06 2021

12 mins read


This special Friday Afternoon Edition of unsnackable was originally published earlier this week as a paid subscriber exclusive. Subscriber posts are less tied to the usual format and conventions of this newsletter and give me room to explore snacks outside of the sweet, savory, thirsty, and boozy categories you have all come to love. Subscriptions also help to offset the operating costs of creating, hosting & publishing this newsletter. 

I'm surprised by how exposed I feel when talking about paid subscriptions even though it still feels like an act of bravery to write this newsletter every week. It is a labor of love, but love doesn't obscure the labor required, especially in a time when my mental and emotional capacity for creativity has never felt more strained.  

But I appreciate everyone who reads, shares, and subscribes to this newsletter. If you would like to support unsnackable with a paid subscription for $5/month or $50/year, please click below.

I spend a lot of time watching Instagram Reels. On a whole, they are mostly terrible. Facebook has decided to force both creators and brands to "pivot to video" in a clunkier format than the clock app by rewiring their algorithm into yet another content ouroboros. The appeal of reels lies within their failure. 

TikTok is the only social platform I fear because the algorithm feeds you content that fires those lil' dopamine signals in your brain until it finds a way to serve you something that will ruin your day. You get stuck in a cycle of chasing something enjoyable enough to erase that betrayal and time disappears. With reels, the crude algorithm serves video without reason. It's rare to feel anything more than muted enjoyment of a reel but even rarer for a reel to summon a strong negative emotion. 

I revel in that passive consumption. It's like a walled garden where my stress-borne emotional dysfunction and smooth brain can flourish. Right now my reels are serving me lots of Starbucks secret menu and drink hacks. The girls are down bad because most of them look pretty abhorrent but in a deeply captivating way.

To deploy a clunky comparison, the search for joyful novelty in American Starbucks customizations feels like watching reels. You might have an enjoyable moment but it is fleeting, muted, and the result of a product tested so intensely that it serves an invisible consensus.

Starbucks operates in 80 countries, with brand mythology that leans just as heavily on proximity to American culture as that mermaid on every cup. Still, a smaller supply chain and geographic footprint allow innovation to shine. Starbucks Japan's 25th Anniversary release of the 47 Jimoto Frappucino collection takes that concept to its logical extreme. 

47 Frappuccino flavors, each created in partnership with local baristas and showcasing small-scale local ingredients with deep ties to each prefecture. They are all perfect and for this reason, I am finishing off this long weekend by ranking each of them in a deeply unscientific manner. And I'm doing it just for you because you're a paid subscriber and I appreciate your support of unsnackable.

an entirely inconclusive ranking of 47 frappuccinos from starbucks japan's jimoto series in order of how many times I whispered "fuck, that's so cool" when I was reading each drink's description and also how much they make me feel like there is a deep, unwavering void in my life.

The images have numbers and I'm ranking the beverages and giving them numbers. It is quite confusing is a holiday weekend and my brain refused to solve that problem. The beverage components are below the photo, with occasional commentary in parentheses.


Coffee, caramel sauce, cream and ice is topped with whipped cream, more caramel sauce and glittering golden sugar


Starbucks Mango Passion Tea with peach chunks topped with luscious whipped cream ( This one hurts me because I feel like I could make this at home, maybe I should make this at home?)


Wasanbon blended with ice, milk and white chocolate matcha sauce (Wasanbon is type of fine-grained sugar, often pressed into ornate sweets and I cannot abide by treating it like the stick from fun dip and blending it into a frapp)


Dark chocolate powder, chocolate chips and a drizzle of mocha sauce (Too much chocolate?)


Dark mocha powder, ice, non-fat milk and crunchy dark cocoa biscuits is topped with whipped cream, more dark cocoa biscuits and a drizzle of strawberry sauce ( Big Dairy Queen Treatzza Pizza energy with this one)


The famous mineral sea salts of the Oga Peninsula, blended with rich caramel sauce and a creamy base


Coffee jelly made with Starbucks® Espresso Roast, ribbons of rich caramel sauce, and a creamy coffee base made with Starbucks® Tokyo Roast 


Juice and pulp from the area’s iconic kabosu citrus, blended with ice and finished with whipped cream and honey 


Setouchi lemons mixed with passion tea, whipped cream and honey


Butterfly pea tea syrup, a creamy base, and topped with whipped cream and citrus chunks ( Much like tiktok's favorite gin, the butterfly pea syrup neither adds nor detracts from this beverage)


Chocolatey base, white chocolate syrup and crunchy brown sugar


Hyuganatsu citrus blended with ice and topped with mango sauce (I am bereft at the thought of all of the varieties of citrus that I have never tried on this list)


A fruity citrus base and white mocha syrup, finished with a fluffy whipped cream topping ( White mocha is a drink customization standby in the states but I trust this version much more because citrus pulls out the fruity notes in coffee)


Made with a blend of local Yame Tea, non-fat milk, white chocolate syrup and ice, then finished with whipped cream and matcha tea powder (One of the greatest failures of a life led by novelty is an inability to acknowledge how quality can impact an experience that seems rote. This may seem like a simple green tea frapp but it is made for and by residents of a prefecture known for their tea and likely tastes better than anything I have ever tasted.)


Dark chocolate powder and mocha sauce, topped with cream and bright, tangy mango passion sauce ( This is inspired by the god of thunder, pounding drumbeats and summer festivals so it has acute EDM vibes that unfortunately have charmed me)


Strawberry sauce, a bright citrusy base and real yuzu peel (These novelty sprinkles said 🏳️‍⚧️ rights)


Brown sugar syrup, chocolate chips and milk, topped with whipped cream, matcha powder and another drizzle of brown sugar syrup (Brown sugar as a prevailing flavor seems overwhelming but consider, what if that is what makes it incredible)


Made with local Kaga Bo Hojicha ( Hojicha has rich creamy flavors when it stands on its own, but in this frapp *transmission lost*)


Coffee is added to the base of this creamy matcha beverage, topped with whipped cream, matcha powder and silver sugar (Coffee and Matcha are a delicious pairing but a hard balance)


A blend of mikan juice, citrus pulp and non-fat milk (Sometimes your brain hits a point when there is no effective hyperbole leaving you nothing more than the hyper-sincerity of calling things "swell". Mikan is a mighty swell citrus)


Black sesame sauce blended into a matcha green tea base, finished with a caramel sauce accent and brown sugar topping (This drink makes me think of how I recovered from the Jenna Lyons-era J.Crew color palate by forgetting how to pair army green with any colors other than white, tan/caramel and black despite the fact that it is also a neutral?)


Apple and strawberry blended with milk ( This is an entirely emotional placement on this list)


A swirl of kiwi jam in a vanilla cream base topped with whipped cream (Kiwi, free from the constraints of being paired with strawberries, shines on a backdrop of vanilla cream)


Banana, apple, peach and orange ( This is inspired by a Showa Era drink called "Mixed Juice" invented by a fruit shop owner who wanted to save overripe fruit by embracing "the spirit of deception" but I do not feel deceived by how delicious this sounds)


A base of rich whipped cream, a layer of citrus fruits with real yuzu peel, and a top layer of creamy milk blended with local Ise tea. (I would like to join this delicious thruple of flavor)


Kinako soybean powder and matcha green tea powder mixed into a creamy white chocolate base, topped with whipped cream and kinako topping.


A base of matcha green tea and white chocolate syrup with pieces of crunchy puffed rice (American rice krispies would not be able to hold their own against the richness of this beverage but the puffed rice of the Fukui prefecture is heartier, crunchier, and right at home)


A blend of citrus pulp, sudachi juice and yuzu peel, topped with whipped cream


Notes of aromatic Hojicha combine with a creamy white chocolate base ( In my most stressful moments, I like to imagine myself as one of the friendly deer in Nara but this frapp looks to a calming tea porridge for inspiration for a beverage to help you reach a similar state)


 A white chocolate honeydew melon sauce blended with a creamy base ( Americans love to hate melons but this is a pro-melon newsletter)


A base of butterfly pea tea syrup blended with white chocolate cream, topped with citrus pulp and a dollop of whipped cream dusted with matcha green tea powder


 Made with a local favorite, zunda—sweetened mashed edamame—and matcha sauce, blended with a white chocolate cream base (Made from baby soybeans harvested early and set against the gentle white chocolate base, zunda is in boss baby mode here)


 Juice from the area’s iconic western pear, ice and pillows of snowy whipped cream topped with honey. ( Shout out to all the pear)


Coffee jelly at the base, a cascading blend of matcha green tea and mocha powders swirled in cream, whipped cream topping dusted in matcha (There is so much going on but it is controlled chaos at its finest)


Crispy rice crackers blended with chocoately mocha sauce and chocolate chips, topped with whipped cream. ( Sweet! Salty! Crunchy!)


Blended ice, premium mikan citrus syrup, and white chocolate, a layer of citrus and a topping of whipped cream and matcha powder ( It is safe to say that in my personal corner of heaven, there will be a late 90s mall food court and this will be on the menu at the Orange Julius)


A unique sauce blend of sweetened soy sauce and coffee, mixed with cream ( This drink channels Dango, a street food standby to create an umami-rich update to the usual sweet+salty pairing. )


 Mango and passionfruit sauce with a creamy yogurty base (Like a cup of lassi on vacation at one of Gunma's famous onsen)


 Coffee, sweet red bean paste sauce, chocolate chips and ice (The only thing I love more than toast is when toast becomes a beverage)


Ginger syrup, vanilla cream and citrus


Watermelon juice and passion tea, dollops of whipped cream and finished with mocha sauce and matcha green tea ( *weeps quietly*)


 Black sesame, matcha powder and whipped cream ( A little goth, like it has a weekend job at Hot Topic)


Layers of apple butter, rich caramel sauce, and cream ( I assume it tastes like the first fall day chilly enough to bust out the outfit that you copped at a deep discount in mid-april)


Milk, ice and white chocolate syrup with castella cake soaked in a shot of Starbucks® Espresso Roast and finished with whipped cream, brown sugar and honey. ( I wish I could live inside this beverage, like Orange Blossom's caffeinated older cousin)


Chinsuko shortbread biscuits with vanilla, milk and caramel sauce topped with whipped cream and crushed biscuits. (Chinsuko made an early appearance in unsnackable and I've been obsessed ever since)


 Cream, delicious grape, and white chocolate sauce ( I am legally obligated to consume both purple beverages and any Japanese grape beverage, I couldn't walk past this if I tried)


Tokibi corn and fresh, creamy milk—blended with white chocolate syrup and finished with crunchy corn flakes. (Correctly placed at number one in the original, in my heart and back in the second unsnackable)

all images and product information via Starbucks

I’m still figuring this out, but hopefully, you enjoyed v.42 of unsnackable.

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