Pumpkin spice has had a nice run. First introduced by McCormick in 1934 as a seasoning blend to flavor pies, Starbucks took the bold step of introducing the flavor in non-pie form with the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003.
Since then Starbucks has sold roughly 424 million pumpkiny coffees and I haven’t purchased one. This is partly because as a journalist I drink coffee that tastes like coffee (black) and partly because it’s a latte and the only Italian influence I grew up with came from the fine people at Chef Boyardee.
Not to let a good thing simply be a good thing, since 2003 nearly every company that flavors products for the American public has offered pumpkin or pumpkin-spice flavored everything. Such as pecan pumpkin instant oatmeal, pumpkin-spice candy corn, pumpkin-spice bagels, organic frosted pumpkin toaster pastries, pumpkin-spice latte M&Ms, 5W-30 synthetic pumpkin-spice motor oil, and maybe the most egregious, pumpkin-spice Peeps.
If there were ever a product that didn’t need to exist, it would be the Peep. Sorry, Just Born candy company, but this marshmallow chicken confection is an affront to science, nature and the Catholic Church.
However, there is a fall food problem besides Peeps. With the popularity of pumpkin spice, I’m concerned other traditional fall flavors that don’t include pumpkin are getting left behind. The public gradually stops talking about something and suddenly no one remembers what turkey tastes like. It happens, folks. Do you remember the flavor of Mr. T Cereal? That’s what I thought.
So, I propose we not only embrace pumpkin spice, we take time out of our busy snacking to honor other fall flavors like hot chocolate, apple, caramel, pecan and VapoRub before they’re forgotten.
Jason’s Fall Foods That Should Exist:
• Post’s Hazelnut and Pine Cone Grape-Nuts.
• Twinings Fall Colors Full-Leaf Tea, now with more oak.
• Starbucks Hayride Frappuccino.
• Maple-Pear-Pecan-Menthol Coke.
• General Mills Corn Maze-Os.
• Kellogg’s Cranberry Sauce and Turkey Gravy Pop Tarts
• Wet Dog and Ginger Chai.
• Vicks Cold and Flu Season Grits.
• Butternut Squash Rice Krispies Treats.
• Armour Chili con Candy Corn.
• Green Bean Casserole Jolly Ranchers.
• Hershey’s S’mores Stuffing.
• Ozarka Rain-Flavored Water.
• Ben and Jerry’s Roasted Marshmallow and Frost.
• Bratwurst and Pretzel Lager: Oktoberfest in a can.
And that, dear readers, is just the top of the Fall Pyramid of Yumminess. Please do these neglected flavors a favor and buy that pint of Giblet Gravy Frozen Yogurt, sprinkle some nutmeg and cloves onto that tuna casserole and stir condensed cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onions into Jell-O. Remember, there’s always room for condensed cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onions Jell-O.
It’s up to us to protect our endangered tastes.
Now, who do I have to punch to get a Browned Butter Mashed Potatoes milk shake around here?
Jason Offutt’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.