We’ve reached the apex of pumpkin spice mania.
Cinnamon, sugar, ginger, nutmeg, clove and sometimes even actual pumpkin have infiltrated our cereals, breakfast bars, cookies, donuts, lattes, Pop-Tarts, Oreos, Larabars, Twinkies, pancake mix, yogurt, butter spread and ice cream. CVS even sells limited-edition pumpkin spice cough drops.
Why? Because at the root of most of these products is sugar, and sugar tastes good. In many of these foods, the second ingredient listed is sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
It’s not the pumpkin, that’s for sure. Without the sugar and spice it’s just a gourd, but many of these products do use actual pumpkin.
You can double up on the flavor with Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage poured over your limited-edition (and hard-to-find) Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. Both are made with real pumpkin.
Products like these make sense to me. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are not that different from the Apple Cinnamon Cheerios we’ve been crunching on for decades. The almond beverage can be used to make your own versions of Starbucks’ super-popular pumpkin spice lattes.
But pumpkin spice cough drops? That’s too much. I may be wrong, though, because it looks like someone’s buying them; I can’t find them anywhere to taste-test them.
It’s not just food, either. Pumpkin spice candles, soap and air fresheners are rampant this time of year. Earlier this week a school in Baltimore was in the news because people had gotten sick over a pumpkin spice plug-in aerosol air freshener. The school was evacuated, five people went to the hospital with stomach ailments and several people had trouble breathing.
The king of all pumpkin spice products is the aforementioned Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte. Deemed by internet memes to be the official drink of women who love all things fall, the sugary PSLs are everywhere.
Besides Starbucks cafes, grocery stores sell Starbucks’ branded pumpkin spice lattes in ready-to-drink bottles, or as coffee, including Keurig cups. The limited edition K-cups are stuffed with regular Starbucks coffee; it’s the packet that comes with it that makes it a PSL.
The packet is — surprise — mostly sugar. There’s 21 grams of sugar in one pouch, which is recommended to be mixed with 8 ounces of coffee. That’s far less than the one 16-ounce grande size at Starbucks cafes.
With whipped cream and 2 percent milk, they clock in at 50 grams of sugar.
To compare, a 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew has 46 grams of sugar and 54 mg of caffeine. Starbucks PSL has 150 mg of caffeine on top of the 50 grams of sugar ... zoom!