About one Instagram lifetime ago, a “unicorn” was a person, place or thing that was the utterly unique manifestation of a fantasy — something or someone that seemed impossible to find.
Now it’s the most ironic food craze of all time. Today, “unicorn food” — anything dyed bright multicolors or spangled with sparkly stars or candy hearts — is everywhere. Cresting on Instagram right now, the trend has spread from mom-and-pop diners to Starbucks. The chain’s Unicorn Frappuccino, introduced early this month, is a sweet-tart swirl of colors topped with a schmoop of whipped cream; it has grabbed everyone from teen Instagrammers to the New York Times by their cute widdle throats. (If you’re just hearing about this, we’re sorry to say it was a five-days-only offer.)
In fact, the NYC metro area is where you’ll find the most impressive — dare we say, transcendent — creations, from tony Bouchon to perennially hipster-approved Milk Bar to Brooklyn bagel stands. Read on for our recommendations. (Just keep “always looking for a tasty unicorn” off your Tinder profile if you mean food; you might not want what comes your way.)
Birthday Cake at Milk Bar
Ancestor to the rainbow-food craze, this throwback debuted nearly a decade ago at the Momofuku spinoff and promptly won many a hipster’s heart. It’s a delicious way to ease into the full-on unicorn food since the pops of color in this confection come from a hefty dose of funfetti sprinkles instead of food dye.
Milk Bar Chelsea
220 Eighth Ave.
Milk Bar East Village
251 E. 13th St.
East Village, Manhattan
Milk Bar Midtown
15 W. 56th St.
Rainbow Cake at Bouchon
This dessert might represent the fullest commitment to the trend: Vibrant rainbow layers are topped with sparkling midnight-blue icing.
1 Rockefeller Plaza
Bouchon Bakery & Cafe
The Shops at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Circle
Upper West Side, Manhattan
Rainbow Crepe Cake at Dek Sen
The homemade Thai food at this neighborhood joint is enlivened with this cake, which has 20 layers of crepes alternating with ribbons of whipped cream.
86-08 Whitney Ave.
Unicorn Latte at The End
You knew it was coming: straight-up unicorn coffee. (Starbucks’ drink is cold and, according to many online reviews, tastes more like mango than java.) According to The End’s proprietors, the rainbow-colored adornments are all plant-based, gluten- and dairy-free with no processed flavors or colors.
Williamsburg’s The Bagel Store reminds us that this is the “original rainbow bagel that broke the internet.” The lines around the block (circa early 2016) may be gone, but the colorful carb ring is still a destination snack. If you’re worried that a hungry crowd will devour the beautiful rainbow bagels before you get there, you can call ahead to reserve one.
754 Metropolitan Ave.
’80s Glam at Mathews Food & Drink
This gin cocktail with fizzy sprinkle froth wouldn’t look out of place landing in someone’s face on a New Year’s Eve episode of “Dynasty.”
Mathews Food & Drink
351 Grove St.
Jersey City, New Jersey
Rainbow Iced Latte at The Good Sort
The $8 layered tricolor latte from this vegan coffee shop gets its hue from beetroot, blue algae, vanilla bean and a swirl of almond, coconut and oat milks.
The Good Sort
5 Doyers St.
Cotton Candy Strawberry Shake from Black Tap
Looking like it sprang directly from the id of an 8-year-old, this shake has a vanilla frosted rim with blue, pink and white chocolates. It’s topped with a lollipop, a rock candy swizzle stick, whipped cream and cotton candy.
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer
529 Broome St.
248 W. 14th St.
Meatpacking District, Manhattan
136 W. 55th St.
Love Triangle Donut at Broad Street Dough Co.
Obeying the maxim that topping anything with Fruity Pebbles is an automatic win, this donut is filled with whipped vanilla mousse and topped with a drizzle of vanilla icing and the colorful cereal.
Broad Street Dough Co.
Oakhurst, New Jersey
Unicornolli at Gelso & Grand
These vanilla cannoli go the extra mile: They’re not only topped with a unicorn toothpick and colorful star-shaped nonpareils — but also accented with tiny chocolate macarons and a mic-dropping mini rainbow cake.
Gelso & Grand
186 Grand St.
Lower East Side, Manhattan
Unicorn Latte at Drink
The Unicorn Latte includes marshmallows, a rock-candy swizzle stick and a full-size Rainbow Brite doll that emerges from the drink holding sparklers. (Ok, fine, not the last one, but somebody get to work on it, will ya?)
1551-1555 Broadway (inside American Eagle Outfitters)