A potentially incendiary post about pumpkin spice

The pumpkin spice craze of a few years ago has faded into pumpkin spice fatigue and loathing, and I’m begging everyone to make sure your ire is placed fairly.

“Pumpkin spice” is a gross combination of fake pumpkin flavor and chemically-reproduced spice flavors, and it makes things that shouldn’t taste like pumpkin pie taste artificial like almost pumpkin pie. This is what you should hate.

What you should not hate is the spice traditionally used to season pumpkin pie and sold mixed together as Pumpkin Pie Spice: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. This spice combination makes everything taste like the good things about autumn: a chill in the air, wearing sweaters, beautifully-colored leaves, running outside in comfort, and football season.

Note that you can put Pumpkin Pie Spice in things not containing pumpkin. I made a recipe for spiced cookies using cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice, and they’re warm and autumnal and delicious.  You should try them (or get your kids to make them for you, because they’re easy). Also delightful: bake a sweet potato in the oven, then split open and put on a little butter and a few shakes of Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Real, actual cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice have never done anything bad to you.

You also should not outright hate pumpkin the fruit. Of course you don’t have to like it or want to eat it, because you’re an adult and you don’t have to like or want to eat anything. You’re the boss of you. But in its actual real pumpkin form there’s nothing to hate or resent about it because it’s just a fruit. You can say, “No, thank you” and wait for apple. Or you can eat it and enjoy its squash-like sweetness and creaminess.

If you do like pumpkin, one way to love it is to put some canned pumpkin in the blender with a little milk (cow or coconut), some powdered ginger, vanilla extract, sweetener, and ice cubes.

How did we go so far off the rails with this “pumpkin spice” thing if it all just started with an innocent fruit and four luscious spices? Well, capitalism, basically. The fact that actual pumpkin spiced with Pumpkin Pie Spices also tastes good with coffee left an opening for the military industrial complex to mess with us by fabricating artificial pumpkin flavor to put into coffee.

Blech. Come on, now.

If you want something that gives you the same warm, autumnal serotonin hit as pumpkin spice coffee but without that gross taste that makes you have to scrape your tongue off the roof of your mouth, there are a couple of options:

1. Put Pumpkin Pie Spice in with your coffee grounds when you brew coffee. You’ll get the deliciousness of the spices, without the grossness of the fake pumpkin flavor.

2. Make my Pumpkin Spice Latte Coffee Cake.  This is one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever concocted–it’s a moist and delicious coffeecake with real pumpkin, with a thin layer of coffee cheesecake on top.

3. Drink a cup of coffee while eating a piece of pumpkin pie.

This shouldn’t be traumatic.

tl;dr version: Just say yes to cinnamon/ginger/nutmeg/allspice with or without actual pumpkin. Just say no to artificial pumpkin and artificial spices.

4 thoughts on “A potentially incendiary post about pumpkin spice”

  1. Starbucks is actually using real pumpkin in there Pumpkin Spice starting this year. I personally don’t care for the stuff either way, but I figured you might want to know.

  2. Most coffee shops have some kind of spice blend available year-round, or you can shortcut with just cinnamon and nutmeg (close but not as good), usually found on the fixings bar thing with the sugars. I dodged the pumpkin flavoring thing because they also have cow’s milk in them, so I don’t know what actual fake pumpkin spice tastes like. Looks like I didn’t miss much.

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