My Kids Are Starbucks Addicts

“I want to go to Starbucks!!!”  Both of my girls begged from the backseat this afternoon as we saw the green mermaid sign rise in front of us – it was the irresistible Siren call once again…

And, hey, it was a great idea. I didn’t get any sleep last night. I was barely awake. I would do anything for coffee. So we pulled up to the drive-through window.

“Can I get a venti, non-sweet coffee, 2 Horizon chocolate milks, and 2 pieces of pumpkin bread?”

“That will be $52…” Or something like to that…

But I didn’t care because within minutes, I was drinking my coffee and feeling much better. The kids in the backseat were happily munching away on their nutritious organic milk and bread.


Today for the first time, the little flicker of doubt that has always been there, bothered me more than usual. I’m not sure why, but suddenly I allowed myself to think, “Maybe it’s not really organic milk and bread. They might actually be consuming chocolate sugar drink and cake…”

When I got home, I looked it up. That’s when I discovered:

  • The Horizon chocolate milk carton states that it has 22 grams of sugar in it.
  • The Starbucks’ website states that one piece of pumpkin bread has 38 grams of sugar.

So that’s 60 GRAMS OF SUGAR in my young child’s “healthy” snack.

With my next Google search, I discovered that the American Heart Association recommends that children have no more than 12 grams of added sugar a day. So one trip to Starbucks, and my kids have had their recommended allotment of added sugar for the week.

I must state right now that I love Starbucks. A LOT. I love everything about it. I have always loved it. From the very first moment that I walked into my first Starbucks, I have been smitten. Of course, since that first Starbucks there have been many, many others. I have laughed with friends, flirted with boyfriends, Christmas shopped, snuggled with my husband, and rocked babies all within its beautiful walls.

And everybody does it. Every parent I know loves Starbucks and takes their kids to Starbucks.

But while moms everywhere have grown to shun McDonalds and its blatant attempts to hook our children into a lifetime of unhealthy eating, we have embraced Starbucks and quietly ignored any possible similarities to McDonalds:

  • The drive-through: Genius. Any mom with screaming children knows that it’s impossible to haul babies and young children into a store or a restaurant. Drive-through coffee is a dream come true.
  • The toys for kids: Overpriced stuffed teddy bears at toddler eye-level, anyone?
  • The food and drinks: Lollipop cakes on a stick with sprinkles, cocoa with marshmallows, chocolate milk, marshmallow bars, and cookies. All seem strangely OK and healthy when purchased at Starbucks.

Starbucks is a major corporation. They are smart. Their job is to groom the next generation of Starbucks customers.  Both of my young children are hooked. They immediately recognize the symbol. They beg to go the same way that I used to beg to go to McDonalds when I was little.

I’m a mom. I’m smart. My job is to feed my children a balanced diet and teach them healthy habits. And 60 grams of sugar for a snack is not OK. For years, I’ve quietly ignored the dent Starbucks has made in our monthly budget. I’ve justified the frequent trips as a “need” instead of a “want”. I’ve overlooked the fact that I don’t even like their coffee all that much. It’s kind of sour. But that’s what love does. Love blinds you.

For me, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee.  My love affair with Starbucks needs to end. Yes, it still tempts me. But this is no longer a healthy relationship. I’m firing up the Mr. Coffee first thing tomorrow morning. Bummer.

I will miss you Starbucks.

Sarah Knight wants the Starbucks Corporation to know that she is concerned about their marketing unhealthy food and drinks to young children. She is steadfast in this concern, and she can only be swayed with a change in menu or an extremely large Starbucks gift card…She is also co-founder of


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