It’s almost October. And you’re probably grinning ear to ear thinking about how every single morning, you can skidaddle on down to your local more-prevalent-than-cancer coffee chain and pick up your favorite thing ever, just ever, a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Don’t you just feel so cozy when you drink it, like Oprah when she’s wrapped in her favorite cashmere sweater, cuddling six tiny Scottish Fold kittens in front of a roaring fire burning imported Nova Scotian wood?
And then, when you get to work, you can have a pumpkin-spice bagel topped with an entire container of half-melted pumpkin-spice butter. And then, if you’re feeling really naughty, treat yourself to a pumpkin spice toaster strudel, or a pumpkin spice yogurt.
And tonight, when you get home from your excruciatingly thankless job of creating meaningless spreadsheets and sink into a warm, pumpkin-spice bubble bath, you can drink pumpkin spice liqueur straight from the bottle, choking down sickeningly sweet gulps until the bottle becomes lighter and lighter. As the final drops of it burn the back of your throat, you can think about how all of this pumpkin spice is really lifting your mood, right? Really getting you back on track after those months of apathy and loneliness—the ignored late night voicemails to your ex-fiancé, the frustrating inability to get over the death of your foster cat. It’s amazing how all of these different companies just knew that you needed a little extra boost in your day.
Fuck pumpkin spice.
Purchasing highly processed pumpkin-spice-flavored things is the equivalent of decorating your entire house with Keep Calm and Carry On merchandise from the dollar store. It was cute for a year or two. (Was it, though?) But it’s artificial bullshit that has come to mean absolutely nothing, and that represents what is essentially a void in your personal taste and likely your entire character.
The “limited edition” nature of pumpkin spice shit creates a false sense of supply and demand faker than Criss Angel’s attempts to prove that he’s Jesus. When you buy this faux-exclusive food-garbage, you fuel the fire that keeps square flavor scientists vying to force-feed you more desperate, cloying, chemically laden snack trends. Take, for example, the “pizza cake” that made the rounds on the internet this week. It’s not a fucking cake. It’s basically a few pizzas stacked on top of each other—I could mosey down to Little Caesar’s and make one in like, five minutes. You know what, Buzzfeed? This pizza will not, and did not, “change my life.” I saw it, and I thought about it for more time than I should have (about six seconds), and my life remains exactly in the same state of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that it was in pre-pizza cake. And the same should be said about pumpkin spice stuff. It’s the lowest common denominator of inventiveness or ingenuity at this point. It’s like your awkward uncle trying to be cool by “lighting up a doobie” with you. But wait, there’s more.
For starters, there isn’t any fucking pumpkin in pumpkin spice shit. I repeat: there is no fucking pumpkin in pumpkin spice shit. Depending on which brand of pumpkin-spice syrup is being used in whatever you’re eating/drinking/fellating, here’s what’s probably making your nonfat latte taste “just like fall”: High-fructose corn syrup (or actual bone char-refined sugar if you’re lucky), “natural” and artificial flavors (LOL), citric acid (whatever), sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (MY FAVES), caramel color (alleged carcinogen), carrageenan (fellow alleged carcinogen which some people think causes intestinal inflammation, but who really knows, right?), milk (probably came from the saddest, most hormone-fattened perma-pregnant cow ever with infected udders), and some other sodium/potassium/xanthan crap.
Secondly, and more importantly, what you’re tasting is actually just fake versions of readily available spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and maybe allspice. You might want to sit down because this is going to come as a shock, but you can actually go out and buy these spices and put them in anything you want, and you can do it any time of the year. Go buck and throw some nutmeg on your chicken nuggets in June if you’re really feeling it.
Have you ever had a chai? It’s basically a pumpkin spice latte. Throw a shot of espresso in there and call yourself a smarter person. If you’re truly lazy, you can even buy all of these “pumpkin spices” assembled into one mix and sprinkle them on all of your food, your skin, your bed—maybe even a pie made out of actual puréed pumpkin that grew on a vine in some soil like a real plant should.
I can fuck with cranberry bliss bars, though. Those are delicious.
This post previously appeared on MUNCHIES in October, 2014.