As a former trick-or-treater who was once hospitalized for devouring too much sugar — true story — I still miss the rush of getting home on Halloween and dumping the contents of my goody bag to unearth my sweet, sweet treasures.
Over the following weeks, I’d have organized my loot by candy based on preference, size and trade-ability. My sugar savouring system was so perfected that, yes, I did notice when my mom ate my king-size Twix bar. Yes, my six-year-old self-made her repay her debt to my sweet tooth.
Unfortunately, with no kid’s stash to swipe candy from, my seasonal sugar fix is now limited to, that’s right, pumpkin spice. (Apparently, it’s frowned upon to eat so much candy as an adult.) Masked in a traveller’s mug — heaven forbid Squamish catches you with a single-use cup (the horror!) — pumpkin spice fits seamlessly into the grown-up world of caffeine and errands.
Unlike the one-night-only championship round of trick-or-treating, there’s a nearly unlimited supply of that pumpkin stuff as of dawn October 1. You can pick up a pumpkin-something beverage at almost any café or drive-thru in Squamish (the others may have wondered where their regular, if basic, vanilla latté-ordering customer disappeared to since October hit). Then there’s pumpkin pie — I made two this year — pumpkin muffins, ravioli, bread, deodorant, SPAM, you name it.
Lately, I’ve been thinking, as I sip on yet another PSL, if any of this even tastes like pumpkin. It certainly doesn’t smell like a fresh pumpkin. It doesn’t feel like the gooey and seed-filled texture of jack-o-lantern guts. And I haven’t gathered the courage to glance at the sugar content. Dare I say, pumpkin spice is also dressing up for Halloween? But before I get to the bottom of this mystery, I get to the bottom of my drink.
As it turns out, Starbucks first introduced their pumpkin spice latté 16 years ago — but only added real pumpkin puree in 2015. And ‘pumpkin spice’ itself is a real blend of spices — commonly cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice and cloves — appearing in cookbooks as early as the late 18th century. Go figure.
Recently, I rolled up to one of my local haunts and ordered a pumpkin-something drink, they informed me that — despite it still being October — they are no longer serving pumpkin-flavoured anything. After a month of intense pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin doses, life goes back to normal.