By Nikki Jamieson
In a few short weeks, autumn will be here.
I love fall for many reasons; the colours the leaves turn, the leaving of humid heat, layering weather, Halloween, the ability to drink hot tea outside in the middle of the day, to name a few.
While it used to mean seeing friends again as I returned to school, this fall I will be celebrating my first year at the Taber Times/Vauxhall Advance.
Of course, every season has its downfalls that everyone can agree on, such as humidity and overcrowding in the summer and dopey wasps and hurricanes in the fall (thankfully the latter is a problem not native to Alberta).
But fall also brings about one tiding that I do not enjoy, although it seems like the rest of the world does; Pumpkin Spice.
For whatever reason, coffee giant Starbucks — in an effort to replicate the success their infamous winter specialty drinks have — decided to try to bring a more seasonal drinks into their coffee line-up. Nothing I have a problem with — I do enjoy the goodness known as gingerbread lattes, have enjoy the odd maple latte on occasion and of course, you all know my thoughts on peanut butter lattes. So in 2003, they tested a recipe in Vancouver and Washington, D.C., which was met with tremendous success.
That recipe, was the Pumpkin Spice latte, and it has been marking the start of the fall coffee season ever since.
For those who never had the drink, it is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, steamed milk, vanilla syrup and espresso, finished off with a topping of whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice mix, although in 2015, they began adding in a small amount of pumpkin puree, and is intended to remind you of home-made pumpkin pie. You can have it as a Frappaccino, iced or hot, and other companies have released similar flavoured lattes, drinks, food and fragrances.
As I have stated before, I am a coffee lover and addict. For all intents and purposes, this drink should be right up my alley, I should be writing about the wonders of this drink and celebrating its release. There is just one small, teeny tiny problem;
I hate pumpkin pie.
Before all of you pumpkin farmers or lovers start throwing pointy objects at me, I do enjoy pumpkin cupcakes and adore the decorative gourds and jack-o-lanterns have a special place in my heart.
It’s just as pie, it really doesn’t do anything for me.
I just have a piece of mush on pastry that some have to drown in caramel to be edible.
I’m not alone in this; if Cutthroat Kitchen judge Jet Tila can deflate after learning he has to taste test pumpkin pie, and not apple pie like he had hoped, then I can too!
I tried this drink once, and I couldn’t finish it — and that was before they went ahead and put actual pumpkin in it. For whatever reason — the spices, the smell, the fact that you can never escape from it — it was one latte that I did not enjoy.
You would think after 13 years, the craze would die down. Instead, the signs assault me where ever I go, and the smell lingers in coffee shops long after the last latte was made. Even on the Internet I cannot escape, as friends of friends like and share photos of the iconic drink in hand.
Surely there are other fall flavours they could have exploited, apple cider for instance. Why does it have to be a pumpkin patch with too many spices?
With the Starbucks gone, you would think I could get a break from it. Yes, there are still the other resident coffee shops to contend with, but their pumpkin spice horror is a lot less offensive than the one who birthed it in the first book.
This was the first year I should have had a break from it. But last week, just what do I find in my Facebook feed? An advertisement for Pumpkin Spice flavoured cereal, that two friends have liked.
I kid you not.
Pumpkin. Spice. Cereal.
Who thought that this was a good idea?
So, not only will this horror be only relegated to coffee pots and shops during the autumn season, but it will spread to homes and stay in the cupboards, long after the season ends. A quick google search showed that there is even waffles of this madcap flavour being released.
The first word that pops into my mind, said by many a wise persons before me; Why?
I get it, Pumpkin Spice sells. For some reason, other people like it, it keeps customers coming back and it generates a lot of revenue.
But at the same time, you are also shoehorning one season into one flavour.
Yes, pumpkins are a more autumn-y flavour, but autumn is more then just pumpkin treats; it is apples, plain old cinnamon, squash, pears, nuts, potatoes, carrots and turkey, to name a few, as well.
It would be like saying winter is merely egg-nog season, when we all know there are lots of other flavours, such as chocolate, gingerbread, peppermint and cranberries.
Yes, I know that a lot of the above mentioned fall flavours would not taste good in coffee (Turkey Cappuccino, anyone?) but show some ingenuity people, maybe make a carrot cake latte or a caramel apple one to compete and stand out in a sea of pumpkin spice.
If Starbucks launched some of the more suspicious Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans flavours as lattes, would you too, even if that meant serving earwax or worse?
I’m not saying to discontinue the pumpkin spice. But fall is about variety and plentiful flavours before we start hibernating in our homes and offices for the long stretch of winter.
In short, I want my pumpkin cupcake, but I want it without the side of pumpkin spice latte. A caramel one would be just fine.