Starbucks
By Raisa Bruner
August 30, 2016

Yes, fall’s most popular and controversial beverage — the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte — now has its own anthropomorphic personality. Sort of.

Starbucks has launched a chat bot on Facebook Messenger called “The Real PSL” to make it easier for customers to communicate with the flavored drink that encapsulates all things autumnal and basic. The Pumpkin Spice Latte has been around for thirteen years now, but this is the first time Starbucks is turning the trendy menu option into a fully-fledged character that you can profess your love to directly.

The chat bot is sassy but only semi-functional, repeatedly asking questions like “What emoji do you think describes me best?” which it follows up with non-sequitur responses like “Look into your PSL… and you will find the answer” or “Well one time I learned to skate and that seems pretty relevant.” (Hint to The Real PSL: no, it’s… not.)

It’s amusing in the way that all bots are amusing: mostly for finding (and taking advantage of) the limitations of their glitchy algorithmic minds. This one seems especially primitive, however. And frankly, we always thought the PSL’s personality would be warmer and sweeter than the caustic bot they’ve served us, just based on flavor profile and the way a PSL will make you feel as you sip. (Along with pumpkin, we usually pick out notes of coziness and nostalgia.) But apparently Starbucks is here to subvert our expectations.

Welcome to the digital future, anyway, where even food items have an active personal brand.

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