Pumpkin spice and everything nice

By Brendan Gunn

An assortment of a few pumpkin spice flavored products offered at stores during the fall season amidst a pumpkin and autumn leaves. Photo By Brendan Gunn

Pumpkin spice Oreos. Pumpkin spice Triscuits. Pumpkin spice Jell-O. Pumpkin spice Ghirardelli chocolate.

Pumpkin spice Country Crock margarine, pumpkin spice Pepperidge Farm swirl bread, and — pumpkin spice pasta sauce.

A pumpkin spice phenomenon has taken the country by storm, and there are plenty of positives and negatives to this seasonal craze.

Every year, for the months of October and November, supermarket shelves are stocked from top to bottom with pumpkin spice flavored items, and coffee shops are filled with signs advertising their “limited time only” pumpkin lattes.

Many people are either intrigued by the idea of a pumpkin spiced twist to their favorite food items, or they are completely turned off and annoyed by the oversaturated market.

My mission was to find out what all the fuss was about.

After trying numerous products, including pumpkin spice Life cereal, Milano cookies, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, PopTarts, Chobani Greek yogurt, a Starbucks latte, and a beer called The Gourdfather, brewed by The Sterling Pig, located in Media, it is safe to say moderation is key.

When the Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please,” he definitely definitely had all the pros and cons of the pumpkin spice madness in mind.

First, let us start with the negatives.

Only one of the tested items has actual pumpkin listed in the ingredients, and that is the PopTarts.

Life cereal, Milano cookies, Starbucks’ latte, and The Gourdfather contain no pumpkin, and the Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Chobani Greek yogurt contain an ingredient called pumpkin puree, the ingredients of which are a bit cloudy.

According to their official site, Libby’s Pure Pumpkin, a branch of Nestle, makes up 85 percent of the world’s pumpkin puree sales, and it does not contain pumpkin at all; in fact, it’s made with squash.

Due to a technicality, which states that it is too difficult to draw a line between pumpkins and winter squash, the FDA allows the company to label their products as pumpkin.

So if most products are made with pumpkin puree, or no pumpkin at all, then this whole craze is somewhat based on white lies.

Now, let us get to the positives.

For one, the pumpkin spice mania generates a ton of money for corporations. In fact, in 2015 alone, pumpkin spice products brought in $361 million worth of earnings to all the various suppliers nationwide, according to Nielsen Holdings PLC, the top rated information, data, and measurement company in the country.

Next, pumpkin flavored items offer a nice twist, which allows people to change their diet routine up a bit and possibly step out of their comfort zone.

But the most important thing when judging this phenomenon is: Do the products even taste good?

None of the products that I sampled tasted gross. Quite the contrary, most of them were very good, especially for those consumers with a sweet tooth. They also offer a feeling of nostalgia because enjoying them may bring back memories of Halloween as a kid, or getting together with the family over Thanksgivings past.

In particular, the Milano cookies, Starbucks latte, and The Gourdfather tasted the best. The home brewed Gourdfather offers a savory taste that leaves craft beer lovers and newcomers alike wanting more, and the cinnamon covered brim provides a sweet compliment to the beer’s taste and presentation.

In short, if you do not get distracted by the overwhelming number of products on the market and limit yourself to only a few pumpkin spiced goodies during the fall season, then pumpkin flavored commodities are a good way to spice up your taste buds.

Contact Brendan Gunn at communitarian@mail.dccc.edu

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