I have something to admit.
I may have a problem.
This is … this is difficult. But as the saying goes, admitting I have a problem is the first step towards recovery.
So here is my story.
It started a number of years ago; maybe eight, maybe ten, at the corner Loaf & Jug convenience store. I’d stopped by late in the evening on my way to work the night shift, looking for something to help me stay awake. I watched as another man glanced around surreptitiously before pulling out his money for his furtive purchase.
Oh, I was familiar with what he was buying. But I never thought I’d try it myself, mainly because of the bad things I’d heard and how awful some people believed it to be.
Seeing this stranger, with his shaking hands and euphoric contentment, struck a chord in me, a longing for something new, different, and a little bit rebellious and experimental for a guy such as myself.
So I did it. I bought my own, the most I could get (it was going to be a long night). Minutes later, in my car parked on the shadowy side of the lot, where no-one could see, I finally tried it myself.
Instantly, I knew why the other man looked so happy, as I felt the warm contentedness spreading through me myself. That night, as I worked, I continued taking it in small doses, wanting it to last, wanting that warmth and the feel and the taste to never end.
That began the descent into what many will call an addiction.
That was my very first pumpkin spice latte.
I know many will scoff at this revelation, not seeing it as a real addiction, but each fall, it seems I just can’t get enough of this particular flavor combination. A combination that, while marked with pictures of pumpkin pie and whipped cream, does not particularly taste like its namesake – no significant amount of pumpkin, but hints of cinnamon and nutmeg and crushed fall leaves and brisk chilled breeze and maybe just a subtle undertone of woodsmoke to tie it all together, it’s like autumn on the tongue for me.
People seem to fall into two distinct categories, dividing our nation even more greatly than any of the current political battlefields: either loving pumpkin spice in all its various permutations, or detesting even the most subtle trace or glimpsed sight they may experience.
And so I call them out: this time of year is not for you. This is the time for me, and my spice-loving brethren.
Luckily, there’s plenty out there to satisfy my craving, and each year around September, old products being rolled out are greeted with new products released for the first time, seeking to cash in on the popularity fueled by my and others stomachly obsession.
Each year, however, I seem to get a little bit more out of hand.
What started with pumpkin spice lattes carried over to pumpkin spice flavored coffee creamer. Thanks not only is my go-to spice fix, but is also usually the first to show up on the grocery store shelves, telling me that the time is at hand for the pumpkin spice goodness to begin its march onto the aisles of the supermarket and then from there into the deepest, darkest depths of my hungry, hungry maw.
Inevitably, pumpkin spice snack cakes make themselves available. I try to hold back, limiting myself to just one type per week. Currently, I’m enjoying sponge cakes with pumpkin spice flavored creme filling. Last week, it was pumpkin spice cake rolls. Maybe next week, it will be sandwich cookies.
All I know is I want to try as many varieties as I can before they disappear once again.
For breakfast today, I thoroughly enjoyed pumpkin spice pancakes. I also know there are pumpkin spice chocolates and candy corn out there, somewhere, just waiting for me to find. Probably lurking near the pumpkin spice breakfast cereals. But it doesn’t end there: I have pumpkin spice air freshener in my bathroom, so I can indulge both coming and going.
Each year, I search the internet for lists of new, seasonal pumpkin spice products. Mae West famously stated, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful!”
Why should I doubt her wisdom?
So I’ll stock my pantry with pumpkin spice bagels and bread, as well as the pumpkin spice granola bars the internet tells me are out there this year. Apparently there is pumpkin spice ice cream to indulge in as well. And if I start feeling sickly, pumpkin spice cough drops may come to my rescue; my orange-hued, ginger-powdered hero.
There’s pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls (that probably didn’t take a lot of work to come up with) and pumpkin spice yoghurt. Really, if you can imagine it, it’s probably out there, and flavored like fall.
(I’m probably going to need to find some pumpkin spice antacids.)
I’m going to keep an out for the pumpkin spice lip balm I’ve seen mentioned, and I’ve heard there’s flavored vodka out there as well. (I wonder if I can find it in rum? What incredible eggnog that would make! Especially if it’s pumpkin spice flavored eggnog!)
(Which is a thing.)
Pumpkin spice marshmallows are on my list, for sweet potatoes or hot chocolate or for a solitaire game of chubby bunny behind closed doors.
(Surprising no one, I’m sure. I’m trying to tackle one issue at a time.)
If I can track down the pumpkin spice scented bleach, it’s going in my cart. While I haven’t heard of it (yet), I’m hoping to find like-scented fabric softener or dryer sheets.
(Smelling that much like food, however, may be borderline insensitive. To my own stomach!)
Addiction aside, I’ve seen mention of a few products that cross even my own lines of taste. I really can’t see myself using pumpkin spice deodorant, for instance.
So maybe I’m not a lost cause. Maybe … maybe there’s hope for me still …
Because the pumpkin spice bologna is absolutely out of the question.
Sorry, Miss West.
There just has to be a limit.