I love fall. It is by far my favorite season. What’s not to love about crunchy leaves and brisk fall mornings where a sweater or sweatshirt is just the right thing to keep the chill away? Or the harvest sounds of combines roaring away in the field and the hum of grain bins drying or blowing cool air over kernels of corn or soybeans at night?
A fun accompaniment to these delights is hot coffee and pumpkin-flavored treats, a taste of the season, right? In 2003 Starbucks created a drink that blended these two flavors. Development of a pumpkin spice latte followed the successful introduction of two other seasonal drinks – peppermint mocha and eggnog latte.
The hot drink became such a hit it was added to their menu and now appears every year from August through January. Since 2015 it even contains a small dash of pumpkin puree.
That creation sparked a pumpkin spice flavor craze that in the following 16 years has exploded across the food scene. I should have taken out stock in cinnamon, clove and nutmeg farms and processing plants, as those three spices make up the blend that has created pumpkin spice monsters across the foodie spectrum.
Don’t get me wrong, I have had a pumpkin spice latte and it was delicious, but after one I don’t indulge in the fall treat because I’m lactose intolerant and the regular milk that gives it the best flavor is a source of digestion distress I don’t need. Call me a purist, but I prefer my pumpkin spice in all things with a heavy pumpkin puree base such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin bars and pumpkin cookies.
To back up my point that we’ve gone overboard with adding the pumpkin spice flavoring to foods, I would like to share some examples that I’ve seen in the grocery store and that other friends have found in retail establishments and shared online.
A favorite store-bought cookie is an Oreo. But did you know they now make a pumpkin spice flavored Oreo? The cream filling is loaded with the flavoring, which of course is orange.
Kentucky Fried Chicken has developed a pumpkin and feta chicken twister that is so wrong on so many levels. Even worse is the person who developed a pumpkin spice latte burger. How could you do that to good ground beef?
Ancient Nutrition has developed a pumpkin spice bone broth. The only place I would even consider using that is in a pumpkin soup and trust me, I’m not considering it. Spaghetti purists beware – they have also packaged a pumpkin spice flavored spaghetti sauce. Be sure your hostess doesn’t slip you a spiked batch of spaghetti during some fall dinner event.
Growing up I have fond memories of Mom frying Spam with eggs for breakfast or with fried potatoes and some vegetable for a quick and economical supper. But I kid you not, walking down the grocery store aisle the other day I spied a can of pumpkin-spice infused Spam. Oh, the humanity!
Of course the popularity of pumpkin spice means it can now be found in other items beyond food. Nearly every air freshener company has some type of pumpkin spice spray on the shelves. Not only can you eat it, but you can smell it too.
You can even have pumpkin-spiced infused laundry, thanks to pumpkin spice scented dryer sheets.
But I believe they crossed the line in decency with feminine care products when they infused a certain name brand with the pumpkin spice scent. Really? No wonder I’m on pumpkin spice overload.
Freelance journalist Barb Bierman Batie grew up near Battle Creek, Neb., and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She has written for local, state, regional and international publications and joined the Midwest Messenger crew in 2010. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.