Fact Check: Starbucks Lattes Do NOT Contain Semen -- Baseless Claims Originated On Satire Website In 2014

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Starbucks Lattes Do NOT Contain Semen -- Baseless Claims Originated On Satire Website In 2014 Semen Satire

Do Starbucks coffee shops routinely add human semen to the lattes they sell? No, that's not true: This claim first surfaced in 2014 as an article on a satire website with a disclaimer identifying the website as such. The fake news story might have faded quickly except that a New York City pastor fell for the hoax and publicized the claim further with cringeworthy appearances on YouTube and "The Daily Show." There is no credible evidence that this claim was ever true, and almost a year later the pastor admitted he had no evidence to substantiate the claim beyond "Let's just say I know." This claim was debunked when it first appeared by Snopes and Inquisitr.

The baseless claim originated in 2014 on a satire website called Huzlers. The claim went viral when it was further promoted by Harlem pastor James David Manning. His claims from 2014 resurfaced in a video (archived here) on TikTok on May 26, 2024, by @consciousjoosee. The video had the following caption and hashtags:

Starbucks latte is made with what?! 🤯🤯 #starbucks #coffee #trending #news #fox #newearth #billgates #food

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:


(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue May 28 17:28:35 2024 UTC)

This claim originated in an article on Huzlers.com (archived here on October 30, 2014) with the false headline, "Semen Found In Starbucks Drinks Nationwide; FDA Currently Investigating." The disclaimer at the bottom of the webpage reads:

Huzlers.com is a combination of real shocking news and satirical entertainment to keep its visitors in a state of disbelief.

Snopes published a debunk of this claim on October 20, 2014, before Manning began amplifying it.

The woman pictured in the upper left corner of the TikTok screenshot above is Jessica Williams, a senior correspondent for "The Daily Show," which was then hosted by Jon Stewart. In an August 5, 2015, article in The Wrap (archived here) titled, "Jon Stewart Reveals How 'Daily Show' Gets Those 'Crazy' Interviews: 'We Bring a Camera With Us' (Video)" with the subheading, "Jessica Williams revisits infamous interview subjects to prove the show hasn't been manipulating the outrageous comments that come out of their mouth." The video originally embedded with the article is no longer available due to Adobe retiring the Flash Player, but the article finishes with this description of what the video contained:

Williams closed the segment by again speaking with Manning, who said he knew what he was getting into when he agreed to be on the show. 'I understood when you asked me to be on the show exactly what it was going to be about,' Manning said. 'I knew there was going to be an attempt to make my ideas seem buffoonery, but I agreed to do it anyway because I didn't think you would succeed at it and you didn't.'

Manning then said he believes that Starbucks flavors their lattes with semen, though he admitted that he had no empirical evidence whatsoever.

An August 5, 2015, article in Huffpost reviews the same "Daily Show" segment, quoting Manning:

I think Starbucks has recognized that the flavor of their lattes...is that they are using semen to make that latte even more flavorful.
You may not be able to find my explanation suitable to meet the empirical standards. But let's just say I know.

The original YouTube episode, "Starbucks Using Sodomites' Semen In Lattes" on Manning's YouTube channel, "The Manning Report," is no longer on YouTube. (The link to the video here now points to a "YouTube account terminated" notice. The link had been included in the "Controversy and finances" section of the Wikipedia page on Manning's ATLAH World Missionary Church.)

Many clips of the footage are included in the videos of other channels. A November 7, 2014, YouTube video posted by "The Majority Report with Sam Seder" is titled, "WTF?!:Fox Beloved, Anti-Gay Pastor: Starbucks Puts Semen in Their Coffee." At 2:36 minutes in Seder's video, the clip from Manning's video misrepresents an article in The Inquisitr, including a still frame of the ambiguous Inquisitr headline (pictured below) with Manning's narration as if Inquisitr was reporting this as news, when in fact it was debunking the claim. Manning says:

There had been some information that had been released and The Inquisitor News Online news service carried this as a major story the week before that what Starbucks was doing, is that they were taking specimens of male semen and they were putting it in the blends of their lattes. Now this is the absolute truth. It's right there you can see it right there, an Inquisitor online services. It was a big article about an investigation in the Starbucks using male semen and and putting it into the blends of coffees that they sell. I mean can you imagine and I believe that they were doing that.


(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Tue May 28 19:52:04 2024 UTC)

The October 26, 2014, article on inquisitr.com was titled, "Were Semen Samples Really Found In Starbucks Drinks Nationwide, Initiating An FDA Investigation?" The article picked through the obvious clues that the Huzlers article is satire, highlights the Huzlers disclaimer, points to the debunk by Snopes, and finishes:

Now that you've read the report that debunks the allegations that Starbucks uses semen in their beverages, what are your opinions? Are you a fan of their coffees and relieved because you fell for it? Did you already know it was a hoax?

Additional Lead Stories fact checks about Starbucks can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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