Stop the Pumpkin Spice Insanity

Is it possible this is the year we've finally reached peak pumpkin spice mania? Because it's really all just gotten to be way too much. Listen, if you want to mark fall's arrival with a ritual Instagram of your Ugg boots and a pile of leaves, that's your business. But could you just leave the rest of us, and the foods and drinks we love, out of it? 

For some inexplicable reason people have been going freaking crazy for those sickeningly-sweet Starbucks Pumpkin Spice abominations for more than a decade now. But can we all just use this moment  to come together and admit that they're really just awful? And even though this year, Starbucks revamped its PSL recipe to include real pumpkin (we don't even want to think about what was in there before), it still tastes like an over-flavored cup of warm sweetened milk. It's just gross. And yet, for some reason, people keep slurping those suckers down by the millions. 

In fact, Nielsen data says foods with pumpkin flavors have become an "integral part" of Americans' fall diet, with more than a third of people having purchased some sort of pumpkin-flavored food over the past year. 

Now that's just crazy. 

Starbucks was the first to really get consumers all geeked up about pumpkin spice, but plenty of other food retailers and companies have picked up on the trend and run like hell with it. And so, in the ensuing years we've been assaulted by a slew of ill-conceived pumpkin spiced foods from the mediocre pumpkin spice M&Ms and Hershey's Kisses to the lame and unnecessary pumpkin spice cream cheese and the downright upsetting pumpkin spice-ification of Pepperidge Farm Milanos. Is nothing sacred anymore? Leave the Milanos alone, you monsters. And don't even get us started on the pumpkin-flavored kale chips we saw on shelves this week. 

Now to be fair, there are a couple of exceptions, like Phoenix's own Essence Bakery's Pumpkin Spice Macaroons, which are completely to die for. But sadly, not all pumpkin spice foods are as lovingly and carefully prepared. And so, we are instead faced with the full frontal assault of a five-month-long season of being pimped pumpkin spiced foods, practically all of which taste like a Bath and Body Works candle. 

Sure, plenty of food trends come and go and that's all part of the fun. Who among us didn't eat more than their fair share of sun dried tomatoes in the '90s? And you know you drank gallons upon gallons of Jamba Juice in the early 2000's until you found out they were like a gillion calories apiece. In the name of food trends we've launched more than a few Thanksgiving turkeys over the fence trying to deep fry those babies and ate at more than one "gastropub."

But this pumpkin spice craze feels like something way different and more permanent.  

So, on behalf of food lovers everywhere, go ahead and drop the fake pumpkin spice flavoring and step slowly away from the cheesecake. You're not giving into a food trend. Slapping pumpkin spice on the foods we love is nothing but pure vandalism, plan and simple. We're begging you to stop.

How about maple as the new fall "it" flavor? 
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.