The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Facebook Messenger Bot Is An Exercise In Delightful Absurdity
Now that Pumpkin Spice Latte season is almost here, Starbuck’s sentient PSL mascot has woken from its months-long sleep — and this year, there’s a new way to interact with it: The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Facebook Messenger bot. And you guys? It’s… really something. I’m speaking from experience here, because I just spent the morning having a conversation with it. For science.
Facebook Messenger bots first hit the scene in April of 2016, with the goal of their existence being primarily to help businesses provide services to customers with the ease only the online world can offer. Of course, streamlining your life isn’t the only thing Facebook Messenger chat bots are good for; in the months since the tools to make the bots were released, developers have created a whole range of them capable of doing everything from identifying objects in pictures to letting you chat with the White House. In a lot of ways, they’re spiritual successors to the AIM bots we spent so much time with back when we were young ‘uns first discovering the internet: Think SmarterChild and StudyBuddy.
The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, meanwhile, was developed in 2003, which means that it’s part of the generation that’s considered “digitally native.” As a result, it’s unsurprising that the PSL would eventually take to Twitter to let us in on all its caffeinated, pumpkin-spiced thoughts; it joined the social network under the name @TheRealPSL in 2014. It also has its own Instagram page now, of course, which is much newer than the Twitter account — the first post is dated 55 weeks ago, which makes it just about a year old.
And now, a Facebook Messenger chat bot has been added to the mix. It operates under the same name as the Twitter and Instagram accounts — “The Real PSL” — which kind of took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out. To access it, first boot up Facebook Messenger, then search for “The Real PSL”; it’ll be filed under “Bots and Businesses.”
Then tap “Get Started,” and prepare yourself for an… experience.
After you tap “Get Started,” the PSL offers you two options: You can either take a a fan quiz, or ask the PSL a question.
Mostly because I was curious about what exactly it entailed, I took the quiz first — and found, to my surprise, that it’s actually quite lengthy: 14 questions long, to be precise. It’s a mix of real Pumpkin Spice Latte trivia and the kind of information about the sentient PSL you can only glean from its social media accounts. I did dismally, alas, so clearly I have not spent nearly enough time stalking the PSL on Twitter.
Perhaps a little oddly, though, asking the PSL questions doesn’t seem to result in any direct answers. After I received my terrible quiz performance score, I opted for the second option, beginning with what I thought was a fairly straightforward query:
I am unsure what pretzels and Octoberfest have to do with my question, but OK — I realize it’s kind of rude to ask strangers how old they are. My bad, PSL. Let’s try again:
Not exactly what I was expecting; maybe the PSL doesn’t have a favorite color?
Then I tried a tactic Siri usually likes:
And lastly, I wondered if it might be able to tell me when it would finally be arriving back in Starbucks stores for us to enjoy:
Wow, PSL. I had no idea you were so saucy.
In any event, it’s clear that the PSL chat bot is just meant for fun — and although its responses are a little nonsensical, it’s a bizarrely delightful diversion.
Good talk, PSL. Good talk.
Images: Starbucks; Giphy; Lucia Peters/Bustle (6)