Pumpkin Spice and Everything Not-So-Nice

Our dining editor ate only pumpkin spice-flavored foods for two days.

Pumpkin-spice-flavored products from Trader Joe's. WSN Dining Editor talks about her two-day-long experiment of eating only pumpkin-spice-flavored food. (Photo by Calais Watkins)

Water is the holy grail of human existence. From replenishing the lone desert wanderer to sustaining settlements along riverbanks, water is a biological need for survival. Never was this so clear to me as it was during the two days of this past week when water was my only reprieve from the oppressive flavor of pumpkin spice.

What was supposed to be a one-day-experiment of eating only pumpkin spice-flavored foods turned into a two-day affair after I realized there is a truly absurd amount of pumpkin spice-flavored foods out there. Lo and behold, Trader Joe’s is pumpkin spice’s biggest stan, and I wanted to try everything. Looking back, my ambitions were extra and I most certainly have regrets.

The following is the story of a life temporarily consumed by pumpkin spice.

I began my experiment by making pumpkin pancakes and pumpkin coffee with pumpkin almond milk for breakfast. The coffee was a nice change from the Dunkin Donuts blend I usually brew and the pancakes were flippin’ amazing (pun intended). I was delighted, my roommates were delighted — this was going to be easy.

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In between classes, I grabbed the obligatory pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks. After the barista announced my order to the entire store when it was ready, I noticed the eye rolls of those around me and quietly made the walk of shame to collect my drink. Stigmatized as basic? Yes, but they taste delicious, and I’m not sorry for thinking so.

Lunch was a pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese. The bagel gave me the same energy as a cinnamon raisin bagel — not too shabby. However, pumpkin spice and cream cheese are a match made in hell. I respect the inventiveness, but this was 10 steps too far.

At this point, I was sick of pumpkin spice and missing savory foods. The experiment had been amusing up to this point, but I was craving a burger big-time. As luck would have it, I had pumpkin bisque to look forward to for dinner.

It was horrible. It tasted like warm hummus and had the consistency of warm hummus. Truly disgusting.

However, dessert was delicious and thank goodness, because I needed a win. I combined Pumpkin Joe-Joes placed atop pumpkin ice cream with a nice cup of pumpkin tea.

The end of day one left me feeling very pumpkin-spiced-out. Not to mention, my diet for the day had consisted mostly of caffeine, sugar, carbs and a small amount of dairy. My nutrition levels were all out of whack and my body was starting to feel it.

So I did it all over again.

On the second morning my breakfast consisted of Pumpkin O’s cereal and pumpkin cold brew. Not bad, but also not great. Admittedly, I was feeling very anti-pumpkin at this point. I even began to dream of vegetables, and I hate most vegetables. Yes, I’m five years old and I’d like to take a moment to say sorry, Mom.

With two back-to-back classes ahead of me, I packed pumpkin snacks for lunch. The pumpkin cereal bar was delicious, but far from satisfying, so I dipped into my pumpkin almonds. You heard me. Pumpkin almonds. They look like regular almonds and when I popped one into my mouth, I expected it to taste normal but was extremely disappointed every time.

I would have had more pumpkin bisque for dinner, but when 6 p.m. rolled around, my body felt weak and my mind felt faint. It was time for protein.

That Shake Shack burger and fries was the best meal I have ever had and will ever have.

There are some delicious, creative, pumpkin spice-flavored foods out there and I love a good theme. That being said, this flavoring fad isn’t going anywhere, so even if you’re looking to try all the options, don’t feel the need to cram everything in this fall. 

After all of the pumpkin spice-flavored foods I’ve consumed, I’m expecting pumpkins to grow out of every orifice of my body. Cinderella’s fairy godmother could never.

A version of this article appears in the Monday, Sept. 30, 2019, print edition. Email Calais Watkins at [email protected]

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