Thursday, September 11, 2014

I am the pumpkin king

Summer is winding down to a close. The humidity is dissipating and the air has begun to take on a crisp coolness. Kids are returning to school. Green leaves are starting to change to hues of red and gold. It's a beautiful time of year. It's a time to cram pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg into every fucking thing we eat and drink.

For eight to ten weeks at the end of every year, every purveyor of food products (from huge conglomerates to small Mom and Pops) unleashes a pumpkin spice-fortified version of their particular commodity. Who decided that the one slice of pumpkin pie we eat at the conclusion of our Thanksgiving meal cannot possibly pacify our insatiable craving for pumpkin spice? Do we really require a full-on pumpkin-cinnamon-nutmeg (allspice, maybe?) experience at every meal and in every component of that meal? The marketing departments of the nation's top food and beverage suppliers think you do. And — face it — they know what is best for you.

Let's start with breakfast. Pumpkin spice has infiltrated waffles, pancakes (and the accompanying syrup), doughnuts, bagels (and their recently-introduced cousins, the bagel thin). Need a spread for your pumpkin spice bagel? You have your choice of pumpkin spice margarine or pumpkin spice cream cheese. Not enough cinnamon in your cinnamon roll? How about adding more... along with its friends pumpkin and nutmeg! In a hurry? Just grab a convenient container of pumpkin spice yogurt and off you go!

What breakfast would be complete with out a hot beverage? There's a wide variety of pumpkin spice coffee and tea, some already prepared and some you can make at home. There's even pumpkin spice coffee-flavored ice cream that's sure to thoroughly confuse your taste buds.

You can't have pumpkin spice coffee without a splash of pumpkin spice flavored cream, right? Well, here's a choice of two different brands. And for the non-coffee drinkers, there are at least seven different brands of pumpkin spice milk, including some for the lactose intolerant. Milk not your style? Don't fret. Pumpkin spice has made it into egg nog. There's even a bottled version of pumpkin spice latte, for those early mornings or late nights when Starbucks is closed.

Snack time is pumpkin spice time, too. None of your favorite between meal noshes can escape the pumpkin spice assault! Cookies, in pre-packaged and mix form, are available in everyone's favorite autumnal flavor. M&Ms®, Hershey Kisses®, not even candy corn is exempt! You can add pumpkin spice almonds (pick your favorite brand!) to a pumpkin spice cupcake mix and decorate the end result with pumpkin spice marshmallows. (If the mix requires baking emulsion, a pumpkin spice version is readily available. Lucky you!) While the cupcakes are baking, you can munch on some pumpkin spice potato chips. Or, if you're looking for a healthier option, you may choose a pumpkin spice flax seed granola bar. And if cupcakes aren't to your liking, there's always room for Jell-O® — especially if it's  — you guessed it! — pumpkin spice flavored.

Let's see. What have I left out? A lot, actually. There's peanut butter. There's gum. There's even dietary supplement! According to the label, it's a blend of organic protein, greens, fruits and veggies. I suppose that nutmeg is covered somewhere in that list. And it looks like pumpkin spice has not limited itself to food. It has found its way into candles and bubble bath, too. Now, your home and your skin can radiate the musky sweet scent of goodies from Grandma's oven.

Is all this enough to drive you to drink? Well, you're not safe there, either. Beer, Kahlua® and three kinds of vodka – they've all been poisoned suitably garnished.

In the years to come, I suspect it will only get worse. The "powers that be" (the test kitchens of Starbucks, Kraft, Procter & Gamble and Unilever) will experiment and concoct ways of introducing pumpkin spice to products you never knew needed pumpkin spice. Just take comfort in knowing that it only lasts a few weeks.

After that, everything will be peppermint flavored until January.

1 comment:

  1. Don't know about that other stuff, but I like pumpkin pie. I look forward to it. That and pumpkin ice cream!