What Isn’t Pumpkin Spice?

Sugar, spice and everything wasn’t nice

Jayde Atchison (she/her) // Opinions Editor
Sol Yoon (she/her) // Illustrator

When I was younger I would deny myself the opportunity to enjoy anything that received a negative backlash. Basic? Me? Never heard of her. I was unintentionally a pick-me girl who didn’t want anyone to know I liked popular things. I would scoff at popular shows, artists and most especially food. When eyes rolled dramatically at the thought of a pumpkin spice drink coming back every autumn, I went along with it because who wants to be the lame girl roped into Big Pumpkin’s agenda? Turns out getting older just means you stop caring what people think and enjoy pumpkin season while you can. 


Anytime I see a new food or beverage that’s pumpkin spicey, all I can hear is that TikTok sound “capitalism really popped off today”. I am here for the marketing — companies know what the girlies want and they are delivering, even when it gets weird. I started slow with the latte, and I have levelled up to wherever pumpkin spice gouda lands on the basic bitch scale. I am the epitome of who to market to when it comes to a theme. You’re telling me I can have autumn flavoured cereal for breakfast, while I smell my pumpkin shaped candle burning nearby? I am absolutely sold. I don’t eat cereal normally, but boy howdy am I ready to embark on this journey. 


People always ask what’s the big deal, what’s so special about the infamous flavour? I know it’s not something spectacular, but give me a little nutmeg, give me some cinnamon, and I feel like I am wrapped ever so gently into the red leaves still clinging onto the trees. It’s the embodiment of the seasons changing in one simple mix of ingredients. Also, the aesthetic of the deep orange on all packaging — in the words of Miranda Priestly: groundbreaking. Give me florals in Spring, and give me pumpkins in fall. 


Cheerio’s has made some great timely limited editions over the years, but their pumpkin spice variation has to be my favourite. It’s not too far from their classic honey nut in the way that it’s not too overpowering, and has the crunch that makes the cereal not such a drag to get through in the morning. I give it a solid 8/10 on the PSL scale. 


When it comes to coffee, you can never go wrong with one made at a coffee shop — doesn’t have to be a Starbucks, but you always know what to expect. As much as I love to treat myself to caffeine out in the wild, I’m no Bill Gates and often need to make my own coffee at home. I have tried a few different creamers, often made with milk alternatives (no need to upset my stomach any further), and I think the Silk coffee creamers are usually the best. They go hard on a themed release and the pumpkin spice is no exception. A splash of that in my vanilla Nespresso is truly top notch sipping. 


I am willing to try anything once, so when I was in a European bodega in Ottawa and saw they had gouda that was pumpkin spiced, I knew it had to come home with me. Once I was able to peel off the protective plastic, I dug into that cheese before it ever hit the plate. I quickly realized I was out $7 and this was the first time I was disappointed by both the pumpkin spice and cheese gods. It was a very strange texture, wasn’t a good mix of flavouring and rained on my PSL parade. This is probably what they mean when they say don’t meet your heroes. 


Will I continue to try all the world has to offer when it comes to autumn’s most notorious flavour? Absolutely. I’m just a little more prepared for disappointment when the match isn’t quite as heavenly as my basic brain wanted it to be.

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