Love it or hate it: Pumpkin spice

by Patty Templeton

Love it“I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion,” said 19th century essayist and poet Henry David Thoreau.

I hear you, Henry, I hear you.

I would rather sit alone at my kitchen table with my pumpkin spice candle than be in any number of crowded rooms with no harvest baking scents blessing my presence.

All pumpkin spices are not created equal. There are those that can suck it. I’m looking at you, Starbucks, with your 50-grams-of-sugar-in-a-latte BS.

But the harvest-toned, drifting leaves, gourdtastic pumpkin spice? The aroma that evokes walking through the orange woods, Halloween, and crisp evenings? What kinda hellbeast doesn’t love that nutmeg-vanilla-cinnamon bonanza? Get on my tongue. I want you in my mouth. I want you in my home. I want your soothing scent wrapped around me while I lounge in cozy sweaters and watch Universal Monster movies.

— Patty TempletonHate itDear every restaurant and retailer: Autumn is awesome enough, stop trying to make it better with all the pumpkin spice.

It’s in my beer, coffee, ice cream, Oreos, candles, donuts, soy milk, soap, and air fresheners.

And, according to a recent New York Times article, it’s happening sooner and sooner, with major brands unleashing their pumpkin glut a full month ahead of the official start of fall. Retailers quoted in the story say it’s a ploy to get consumers in the buying mood before the onslaught of the winter holiday season. And slapping a limited-time-only label on everything imaginable seems to move product.

The irony is that, despite getting half the billing, pumpkin spice isn’t even pumpkin-y. Because no one really likes pumpkin, what we’re tasting is a huge dump of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and sugar, saturating everything with overbearing sweetness and flavors – often artificial – that rightly belong in pie.

I don’t hate everything pumpkin-spice. I’m just putting my foot down and saying, “Where does it stop?”

David Holub


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