Well, here we are again. The mornings are cool and crisp. The trees are turning lovely shades of yellow, orange and red. And once again, some madman with a syringe is injecting pumpkin flavoring into anything he can get his hands on.
That’s right. It’s “Pumpkin Spice Everything” season again.
Just as a small preview of how this is all going to go, I should start by saying I don’t much care for pumpkin. Or rather, I don’t like “pumpkin flavor” or “pumpkin spice.” Pumpkin seeds are among the tastiest baked treats to enjoy on a cool day. How someone got it in their head to scoop out the garbage part of the pumpkin, throw away the seeds and then vomit nutmeg into it until it in no way resembles the taste of pumpkin, I’ll never know.
I don’t even really like pumpkin pie. Why? Because they baked it into a weird tofu-like slab that’s so far removed from real pumpkin I don’t why they even kept the name. It’s like someone did a cover version of pumpkin and really just phoned the whole thing in.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. If it tastes like nutmeg, feels like tofu and is randomly brown, I don’t know what it is. But pumpkin it ain’t.
Luckily, caramel apple is kind of a Fall staple, too, so at least failure won’t be a foregone conclusion for everything I tried.
Caramel Apple Twizzlers. So basically, you’ve got an apple-flavored Twizzler filled with caramel. Take good thing and stuff with other good thing to get good-er thing. Eat. Enjoy. Rinse. Repeat.
For the first three, anyway. After that, the flavor goes kind of off the rails and starts to taste really artificial. So if you’re the sort that’s capable of enjoying candy in moderation, then these should be right up your alley. If you’re the sort who tends to see a pile of candy as a personal challenge, you might want to skip these altogether.
Pumpkin Life Cereal. I picture this as being pretty much what would happen if you accidentally spilled a pumpkin latte into your bowl of Life Cereal and just decided to go with it. I don’t consider that a ringing endorsement, but if that description doesn’t scare you off, you’d probably like these.
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. I picture this as being pretty much what would happen if you accidentally spilled a pumpkin latte into your bowl of Cheerios. Then you threw it out. And then you spilled a second latte into an empty bowl. And then you spilled a lye latte. And amidst all this crazy spilling, you got sort of distracted and actually started eating what was in the bowl.
I realize that when people are buying pumpkin-spiced anything there are probably certain expectations. First and foremost among these is that you’d actually be able to taste the pumpkin. And that’s fine, but this kind of ran in the opposite direction. The spice is overpowering – closer to a chemical burn than a flavoring.
But again, if that description doesn’t scare you off…sure.
Little Debbie Caramel Apple Oatmeal Creme Pies. These were probably my favorite food of the bunch I tried. And I think it had something to do with the organic nature of the limited edition. It’s not a drink with a tacked-on flavor shot. It’s not a cereal dusted with random spices. This was exactly like a tiny oatmeal cookie sandwich cosplaying as a caramel apple pie.
The point of limited editions is that they make sense in the context of a specific food. Caramel Apple Wther’s Originals make sense because it’s just adding some apple to your caramel. And Pop-Tarts, frankly, can get away with almost anything. But the more you’re aware that they just took an existing product (like, say, Oreos) and added pumpkin spice just to make some random girl in Portland squeal, the less it holds up.
That being said, the “creme” aspect of this was a little weird. It’s sort of like if you took the regular oatmeal pie creme and put it in a blender with caramel and apple. As long as I don’t have to clean the blender in question I’m okay with it, I guess.
Lindor Pumpkin Spice Milk Chocolate Truffles. And…the counterpoint. This is the textbook example of abandoning organic flavor use and just filling your candy with whatever. Or it would be a textbook example, but I refuse to believe a textbook on such a sad, sad topic could possibly exist.
I’m going to write this very slowly so everyone can understand it. I’d also advise candy makers to read it slowly. Otherwise, my typing speed is largely irrelevant. My point is, I need you to understand this – chocolate and pumpkin do not go together.
I understand the difficulty in making tasty confections when the well of ideas for stuff to stick in chocolate are pretty much tapped out. Lord knows there were enough warning signs when people tried selling me chocolate with air bubbles in it. But Lindor isn’t doing itself any favors by putting pumpkin in chocolate. Chocolate goes about as well with pumpkin as it does with cinnamon. Or hair clippings. In short, not at all.
Does that mean chocolate candy makers have to miss out on the fall fun? No. But maybe do that salted caramel thing people say is in any way different than plain caramel. You want Fall foods? Then do some county fair favorites. The fact that so many years have passed without a Fried Twinkie Milk Chocolate Truffle is nothing short of a travesty.
Taco Bell Pumpkin Spice Nachos. Okay. I made this up. These don’t exist. And the fact that they don’t is probably one of the more compelling forms of evidence that there’s a God out there who loves us.
Though, given the rate of things getting pumpkin spice versions, I’d say God will probably keep loving us for another year or two, tops.