Reporter's Notebook

Oprah gets second billing?

New Teavana Oprah Chai Tea could inspire more celebrity-branded menu items


Starbucks this week announced the April debut of a new chai tea blend named after actress, former talk-show-hostess, global leader and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

Winfrey, who has applied her Midas touch to radio, television, movies, magazines, books and media networks, said she has been asked to endorse many types of products and has turned them down. But tea and Starbucks represent things that “nurture the human spirit,” and that’s what she wants her brand to be all about.

At the Seattle-based company’s annual shareholder meeting, Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ chair, president and chief executive, appeared downright giddy to be holding hands with Winfrey as they shared the stage for the announcement.

The new tea blend, dubbed Teavana Oprah Chai Tea, promises to be spicy -– the way Oprah likes it -- with hints of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves blended with black tea and rooibos. And the product will raise money for Winfrey’s youth education programs, which, as silly as all this seems, is a good thing.

One can only hope this will bring the return of the celebrity-branded menu item.

Oh sure, delis have long named sandwiches after local celebs. In Los Angeles, Pink’s hotdog stand has decades of star power on the menu, from the Martha Stewart Dog (a 9-inch stretch with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream) to the Brando Dog (just a 9-inch stretch, naked).

This week comedian Jim Gaffigan helped create the “Undead Gaffigan Burger” at “stunt-burger maker” Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in Des Moines, Iowa. The burger has five patties – one for each of Gaffigan’s children – cheddar, fried jalapenos, bacon and baconnaise on grilled Texas toast, according to A Hamburger Today. 

What’s next? The Bill Clinton Quinoa Power Bowl (with an onion ring topping)? The Tom Brady Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger? The Kim Kardashian Kronut (it’s bigger on the bottom)? The Miley Cyrus Twerkwich?

The possibilities are endless. We’ve already got Jessica Simpson shoes, John Malkovich clothing, Sarah Jessica Parker perfumes, Brook Shields furniture and George Clooney tequila. Still, we Americans need more celebrities integrated into all aspects of our lives.

So thank you, Starbucks, for making it cool to stop in and order an Oprah with whip.

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What's Reporter's Notebook?

Reporter's Notebook is NRN's newsroom blog, where our editors give their points of view on news happening in the restaurant business.


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