Eighteen years ago, Starbucks unleashed pumpkin spice lattes on the world, and autumns have never been the same.
Who’d have thought a fruit formerly famous strictly for its guises as jack-o’-lanterns and Thanksgiving table pies would suddenly become a worldwide obsession — and continue to be fall’s flavor of choice.
Pumpkin and the aromatic mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice that are so crucial to pumpkin pie’s signature taste have since popped up not just in other foods, but in products of all kinds. Some make sense; others have me wondering “why?”
Pumpkin spice cereal is one of my favorite autumn indulgences. I buy extra boxes just so I can enjoy them months later. Though I haven’t tried them yet, I “get” how pumpkin spice bagels, cream cheese spread, candy and Twinkies would have a fan base.
But macaroni and cheese? Last year, Kraft packaged a limited number of mac and cheese dinners (available only through a sweepstakes promotion) with pumpkin spice augmenting the usual powdered cheese. Hormel, meanwhile, introduced pumpkin spiced SPAM a couple of years ago. It sold out in hours, either eagerly scooped up by curious foodies or fans of SPAM’s undeniable kitsch factor. A 12-oz. can of it now goes for as much as $150 on eBay.
Folks majorly obsessed with all things pumpkin spice can start their day with products like flavored toothpaste, deodorant, cologne and lip balm. And those needing a jolt stronger than pumpkin spice coffee can get their pumpkin spice fix (hopefully later in the day) in various alcoholic beverages.
Later this month, pumpkin spice will make its debut appearance in Nissin brand instant ramen noodles. “For the full pumpkin spice experience,” a company spokesman actually suggests, “top it with whipped cream.” Really? Whipped cream atop a container of noodles is taking the pumpkin spice craze a tad too far! I think if I dollop whipped cream on anything it will be on a good old fashioned slice
of pumpkin pie!