Okay, guys, I think I’ve figured it out. Pumpkin spice is — well, it’s like a zombie virus from an apocalyptic movie. At first you find it in your coffee and you think, what in heck is going on, but surely I can avoid this by not buying ridiculous coffee. Then it starts to make its way into your cereal, your cookies, your popcorn, your pasta… until finally, every last cheese is infected with it too. Until the final scene, in which a variety of pumpkin-spice-loaded foods are lomping through the landscape, killing innocent humans by suffocating them with lethal quantities of nutmeg. I have seen the future, and it is terrifying. And aromatic. Terrifying, and aromatic.
Thank you to Susan for spotting this in the wild!
There are the pumpkins. There are the fall-reddened maple leaves. And there’s the blob of diarrhea-like pudding that claims to be pumpkin spice Jell-o. Lots of artificial flavor, NO artificial sweeteners — so you know it’s healthy. Same great taste as — as what? As pumpkin spice that grows in the wild?
Thank you to Jenna for this photo, which in the epic catalogue of pumpkin spice-flavored food, is not even that bad.
I have to confess: this is perhaps the least objectionable of the pumpkin pie trend horrors. Caramel popcorn is already a thing, as awful as I may personally find it. Some stickler for detail decided to call it “pumpkin pie” and note that a seasonal spice blend is really what “pumpkin” denotes today. In fact, I’m willing to say this pumpkin pie popcorn is almost a secret agent, a quiet force of rebellion against ubiquitous pumpkin spice domination.
Or perhaps I’ve totally lost it.
Thank you to Usha for this photo!
I begin to ask myself what it could have been, this powerful taste that brought no proof, but the overwhelming experience of wretchedness, of the degradation of the human soul in this age of unreality, of the putrefaction of good sense and beauty and harmony.
And then I dip the pumpkin spice madeleine in the coffee again, and it all unfolds before me. The flavour, haunting in its stupid familiarity, calls into the recesses of my soul. It reeks of burnt beans and misspelled names and lascivious squirts of vanilla syrup from moldy tubs. Suddenly, just as a cup sleeve of corrugated cardboard that seems flat, given a tiny amount of pressure from the fingers, pops into a round window, an effigy of protection from a boiling beverage, the memory takes shape before my eyes.
I am a teenager, in a suburb with no identifying marks whatsoever, its relentless blandness a war against beauty or sensual experience. I do not really like coffee, but I fill a cup with six packets of sugar to make the bitter liquor somewhat palatable. Soon I discover a way to burn even the last trace of flavour away, a corporate solution for any stubborn flashes of creativity that may remain in our hearts, a final goodbye to subtlety and variation and natural goodness, a toddler-like piefication of the world, and the cheerios and the pasta sauce and the Oreos and the egg nog and the low fat yoghurt rise up from my cup of coffee.
(Thank you, Ben, for the photo.)
It’s almost Hallowe’en, and I am out of words. What cannot be pumpkin spiced? What has not been pumpkin spiced? Next October, I predict, supermarkets will replace all the food with one big vat of orange fluid flavoured with pumpkin spice. Customers will come by, take jugs of the stuff home to eat, or simply stick their faces right in it. The truly devoted will jump into the vat and stay there, orange and fragrant till their last breaths.
(Thanks to Sonja for this!)
Okay, this entry — submitted by the legitimately outraged Dianne – is so bad it’s almost good again. Eggnog is an eighteenth-century drink and seems to be descended from late medieval possets. And pumpkin spice is basically a medieval spice mixture, a culinary blast from the past as it were. In fact, possets were often spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon. Basically, in search of trendiness, the folks from the aptly-named “Old New England” recreated a medieval drink. This is food gone unwittingly right!
Ah yes. I remember this part of Dante’s Inferno. Not the third circle — gluttony — but the sixth, heresy. It’s a little known fact that Farinata degli Uberti was condemned to eternal, fiery punishment due to his perverse use of pumpkin flour. You’ve been warned.
Thanks to Elan, for documenting his purgatorial shopping trip.