Don’t Let Your Gourd Down: The Pumpkin Spice Invasion


It shows up every fall, just after Labor Day, as predictable as foot fungus on a high school football player and as unwanted as teen pregnancy. Pumpkin flavored ale. It’s awful. If you’ve ever been strapped down to the dinner table at Thanksgiving and had an entire pumpkin pie crammed down your throat while someone shoots Coleman fuel up your nose and sprinkles nutmeg in your eyes, you get the idea. But then, you might celebrate Thanksgiving differently than I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-pumpkin. I love pumpkin pie as much as the next Pilgrim. But that’s as far as it goes with me and pumpkins. I am not a fan of pumpkin flavored food and drink. I wouldn’t drink a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte even if it flowed out of my kitchen tap. Pumpkin Spice Oreos? Nix. Pumpkin Pie flavored Pringles? You must be out of your gourd.

According to the Nielsen Company®, Americans spent more than $300 million on pumpkin-flavored food and drink in 2012. That’s three times what they spent on fresh avocados, according to Statistics I Totally Made Up™. The pumpkin trend is obviously not going away any time soon.

The problem with all this stuff is the same: they overdo it on the pumpkin flavoring. They overcompensate like Donald Trump does with his hair. Of course, when it comes to processed foods in general, there is no room for subtlety. The same holds true for pumpkin ales. If the breweries were honest about it, they’d call it ale flavored pumpkin.


Relax, that’s just a crunchy candy shell.

I don’t know any beer drinkers who like it. That’s why you’ll see huge stacks of pumpkin ale being blown out at the grocery store for three bucks a sixer come next January. By Valentine’s Day all the toothless hobos under the bridge will smell like they just ate a jack-o’-lantern.

Snack food companies can’t get it right either. Have you tried the Pumpkin Pie flavored Pop Tarts? They try too hard. They’re so cloyingly sweet that they make regular Pop Tarts seem like dog biscuits by comparison. Not that I’ve ever eaten a dog biscuit (on purpose).

At least pumpkin pie is honest about it. It’s usually made with canned pumpkin, which is mostly corn syrup, cinnamon flavoring, candy corn extract, and maybe a teaspoon of pumpkin flesh. And it’s perfect that way. Don’t try to confuse me with your sweet potato pie or some homemade thing featuring pumpkin your neighbor grew in her garden. I don’t want my pumpkin pie to taste like it came from nature. Give me that All-American pumpkin pie that’s been manufactured exactly the same way since store-bought crust was invented by Ben Franklin the day after he discovered electricity.

For me, one hyper-pumpkinized food is enough. Do we really need pumpkin M&M’s? Those little pellets of deliciousness are already in danger of saturating their own market. As if peanut M&M’s don’t give people enough of a solid candy-coated alternative, they have 20 other varieties, including wild cherry, carrot cake, and something called razzberry. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before they jump on the gluten-free bandwagon. (Psst—hey, M&M’s, the department of redundancy department called and asked me to remind you that Reese’s Pieces has the peanut butter thing covered, thank you very much.)

There’s pumpkin spice flavored cream cheese, for those who love their morning bagel with a shmear but would like to throw up before they get on the train. There’s Wrigley’s Pumpkin Spice gum, so your breath can smell like one of the toothless hobos who live under the bridge. Jell-O pumpkin spice instant pudding is available too, which even Bill Cosby finds embarrassing.

If you’re the kind of masochist who would like to trigger memories of all the uncomfortable family Thanksgiving gatherings you’ve endured over the years, spice up your PB&J with some Jif’s Whip pumpkin pie spice peanut butter. Just be prepared to explain to your coworkers why you’re crying while you’re eating your sandwich.

The pungent explosion of pumpkin spiced products has now made it possible to pull off the pumpkin s’more. That’s right, you can toast up some Jet Puffed pumpkin spice marshmallows to spread onto a graham cracker, and glue the whole thing together with melted pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses. Believe me, people are losing their minds over this shit on Pinterest.

   Check out all of Bob Wire’s posts in his blog archive.


Have an off-white Christmas with Bob Wire.Think of it as Gonzo meets Hee Haw: Missoula honky tonker Bob Wire holds forth on a unique life filled with music, parenthood, drinking, sports, working, marriage, drinking, and just navigating the twisted wreckage of American culture. Plus occasional grooming tips. Like the best humor, it’s not for everyone. Sometimes silly, sometimes surreal, sometimes savage, Bob Wire demands that you possess a good sense of humor and an open mind.

Bob Wire has written more than 500 humor columns for a regional website over the last five years, and his writing has appeared in the Missoulian, the Missoula Independent, Montana Magazine, and his own Bob Wire Has a Point Blog. He is a prolific songwriter, and has recorded three CDs of original material with his Montana band, the Magnificent Bastards. His previous band, the Fencemenders, was a popular fixture at area clubs. They were voted Best Local Band twice by the Missoula Independent readers poll. Bob was voted the Trail 103.3/Missoulian Entertainer of the Year in 2007.

You can hear his music on his website, or download it at iTunes, Amazon, and other online music providers. Follow @Bob_Wire on Twitter.


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