Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

I try to take Darwin’s words to heart, what with him publishing one of the most important texts in human history. Yes, even with my limited knowledge of science I (sort of) understand that evolution is a process colossally larger in scale than my short life. Regardless, since learning about Darwin in high school, I’ve silently played a game where I see how well I can adapt to the trivial changes that rock my small world – a Facebook redesign, a change in management at a restaurant I have a sentimental attachment to – as if my resilience to these trifles is a sort of evolutionary fitness workout routine.

It wasn’t until the second semester of my freshman year that I hit a wall in my little game, and it was when Starbucks revamped its pastry line up. I shouldn’t have been so surprised when the day finally came, as Starbucks had been advertising the change months in advance. But despite the signs, I never thought that the coffee corporation with a beautifully cryptic mermaid logo and pseudo-sophisticated facade that made me feel so cool and hip would ever let me down.

Well, Starbucks has let me down, and now the jig is up. The company outsourced its pastry line up to a bakery called “La Boulange”, which Starbucks seems to assume I’ve heard of but haven’t. Allow me to express my frustration in the change with the tact of a fifth grader in his persuasive writing essay, because I can’t go about this in any other way:

First of all, most of the baked goods look visually unappealing and I refuse to believe that their taste or quality will be deceptively good. Yes, I used the future tense because other than a morning bun, which had enough sugar to qualify as rock candy, I have no intention of trying the other new concoctions. The cakes look shriveled and sad, the muffins have not so much a robust top as a gentle curve, and the savory squares look way too questionable for me to ever want to go down that route.

Secondly, the pastry display itself disappoints from an aesthetic standpoint. Because of the small size of the baked goods, the display is sparse and empty, but not in a cool, minimalistic way, like the Yeezus album cover or a Mondrian. No, the vast and open display only highlights how lacking the desserts have become as the miniscule coffee cakes cower against the harsh pink light from the display paper.

This brings me to my next point, which is that the desserts are no doubt lacking because I am paying the same $2.45 for less pastry. Sadly, Starbucks hopped aboard the Tapas train, whose motto is, “Why pay more for more food when you can pay more for less food?”

But really, I can’t deal with “La Boulange” because I feel like Starbucks is using it to insult my intelligence. With the new pastry lineup, Starbucks has been throwing around my favorite culinary buzzword: “Artisanal”. Sorry, but I’m not going to blindly believe that your tomato and cheese squares were painstakingly crafted by some sort of wise shoe cobbler from the streets of Venice. I also couldn’t help but notice the way they tote their chocolate as “single-source”. I can only imagine they want me to believe that the chocolate came from one place and therefore must be high quality. Well, can’t you get your chocolate from one really bad source?

Starbucks may be no more than a Dunkin Donuts with fancy clothes, but at least I have the right to pretend I’m enjoying some sort of distinguished coffee experience. Starbucks sank too low with “La Boulange”, and with this I can’t enjoy the blissful ignorance I used to know. I guess some changes will take a little longer to get over.

Howard is a member of

the class of 2017.



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