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Pumpkin spice m&ms

Mike Mozart/Flickr

We feel you, pumpkin spice M&Ms

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Have we reached peak pumpkin spice?

Do we really need instant pumpkin spice latte mix for dogs? Or pumpkin spice moonshine? What about pumpkin spice protein powder? We'll give you your pumpkin spice lattes (for humans) and your pumpkin spice cake, but really, where should we draw the line between tasty and trendy, and where does it end?

This week, op-ed columnist Frank Bruni of the New York Times penned the story, "Will Pumpkin Spice Destroy Us All?" The title, while perhaps hypberbolic, more than hints at the ways in which our obsession with this fall flavor aligns with our political and cultural milieu. Calling the flavoring "invention run amok, marketing gone mad ... the transformation of an illusion," he writes: "One day we’re still catching the faint perfume of Coppertone on summer-bronzed arms; the next we’re trapped, aromatically speaking, inside an enormous orange gourd. It happens that quickly, that insidiously: a zombie apocalypse, if the zombies wore nutmeg cologne. And it really must stop. But it won’t. It can’t. I finally realize that, because at last I see that pumpkin spice is more than a curiosity, bigger than a phenomenon. Pumpkin spice is America."

It's a strong statment, and one that has been echoed in other media outlets: In September, the Washington Post's Maura Judkis sampled every pumpkin spice product she could find, and determined that "it is possible to spend an entire day subsisting off nothing but pumpkin-spice products." She finally hit her pumpkin-spice wall with organic (!) spray-on pumpkin spice flavoring that "tastes like you squirted an air freshener directly into your mouth" and that she says she'll keep in her purse to use it as mace.

Both Mother Jones and Eater are chronicling the best (worst?) of this year's pumpkin spice releases. Stand-out items, among around 65 in total, include pumpkin spice bar soap (don't worry; it's "all-natural"), pumpkin spice deodorant, pumpkin spice kale chips and, for the college student in all of us, pumpkin spice instant Jello shot mix.

Hard-core pumpkin spice fans likely follow @TheRealPSL, the Twitter handle created by Starbucks, which constantly posts images of a latte outfitted with sunglasses sitting in various fall-ish scenes. Is this as unnecessary as pumpkin spice protein powder? You tell us.

Photo Credit (M&Ms): Mike Mozart/Flickr (license)


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Kate Williams is the editor-in-chief of Southern Kitchen. She is also an on-air personality on our podcast, Sunday Supper. She has been working in food since 2009, including a two-year stint at America’s Test Kitchen. Kate has been a personal chef, recipe developer, the food editor at a hyperlocal news site in Berkeley and a freelance writer for publications such as Serious Eats, Anova Culinary, The Cook’s Cook and Berkeleyside. Kate is also an avid rock climber and occasionally dabbles in long-distance running. She makes a mean peach pie and likes her bourbon neat.

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