What Company Makes Starbucks' Cake Pops?

Though best known for its coffee, Starbucks has added various food items and snacks to its menu over the years, some of which have become quite iconic. In 2010, the chain introduced cake pops in response to the cake-on-a-stick trend pioneered by the blogger Bakerella. However, Starbucks has never made its own cake pops in-store, as these treats require too much time and effort.

Instead, Starbucks partnered with Steven Charles Desserts, a wholesale bakery that was founded in L.A. in the 1970s. Today, the company primarily operates out of Aurora, Colorado, with a secondary location in Pembroke, North Carolina. In addition to working with Starbucks, Steven Charles Desserts churns out treats for countless other grocery stores, restaurants, hotels, theaters, retailers, and more.

Selling the cake pops from about $1.50 to $3.75 apiece, depending on location and variety, Starbucks understandably goes through a lot of these tiny treats. A single location might sell a couple hundred cake pops in a day, depending on the flavors and designs available. The chain offers flavors such as cookies and cream, birthday cake, and chocolate as everyday cake pops, with other exciting and often cutely decorated versions appearing seasonally.

Steven Charles Desserts credits its success to diversity

Starting in the 1990s, Starbucks embarked on an effort to choose partnerships that champion diversity. Given the fact that three of Steven Charles Desserts' four chief officers are women and the company makes a point of hiring ethnic minorities, the two are a perfect match. After all, Steven Charles Desserts directly credits its success to a workforce of unique individuals, and we've all seen Starbucks echo the philosophy of creativity in its constant turnover of new drinks.

Of course, the cake pops produced by this partnership are a notch above what most of us could make at home. While we might use store-bought, budget-friendly ingredients in a s'mores cake pop recipe, Steven Charles Desserts uses only ingredients of the highest quality in its gourmet cake pops. Not only does the quality explain the relatively steep price for a single cake pop, but it also explains why customers continue to come back for these sweet treats, despite cake pops' overall popularity decreasing by about 11% each year, per a Tastewise trend report.

Some of Starbucks' cake pops live in infamy

Don't get us wrong: The taste of Starbucks' sweet cake pops usually hit the mark. That being said, the appearance of certain limited-time cake pops might sometimes leave customers wanting more. Several months before Starbucks' controversial 2023 winter menu leaked — which promised the return of the seasonal Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop — the chain introduced a Bumblebee Cake Pop. 

Fans immediately took to social media to roast the newest treat, with some comparing its appearance to that of the character Tina from the animated show "Bob's Burgers" (just try to see the bee's smile as its nose). Others argued that the "bee" looked more like a cat or tiger than anything else, but little did they know, they were close to the truth. Steven Charles Desserts understandably reuses its cake pop molds for various designs, and the one used for the bee pops had previously been used to make cat, unicorn, and reindeer pops. 

Sure, the "bee" design could have used a little more development, but at the end of the day, it's still a cake pop that'll be eaten in a single bite. With these cute, portable, and tasty desserts available at almost every local Starbucks, we should be thankful for this sweet company partnership.