The spice must flow

It seemed to come from nowhere, and then suddenly, it was everywhere. It appeared unexpected and unwelcome, like a deadly plague winding through uncharacteristically happy medieval communities, or ravenous alien pods consuming the bodies of good hard working farm folk and snatching their very identity in the otherwise peaceful country night. I’m talking of course, about pumpkin spice.

I don’t know which zillionaire it was who ‘cornered’ the market in pumpkin, but it sounds like they got themselves into a bind, like Milo Minderbinder getting stuck with all that Egyptian cotton. Informed readers will recall the good Lt Minderbinder finally had to cut a deal with the Nazis, where we bombed our own air base, if they would take some cotton off the syndicate’s hands. The same readers will also remember, Minderbinder’s first brainstorm was to try to make the cotton edible.

But stuck they were, and a conspiracy was hatched: ram pumpkin down America’s throat, literally, whether we liked it or not. All the sudden it was everywhere, offered to us in cakes and coffees and teas, in burgers, even ice cream: Children’s Ice Cream!

The marketing push appears to rely on our collective sense of seasonal obligation, or our lack of experience with most pumpkin related products and extracts, it relies on anything but the taste.  For good reason. Pumpkin has no taste.

We all know, or at least I feel I can speak for the entire secular community on this, that pumpkins are not food. Nor are they a condiment. No mortal parent, and hopefully no God, would be so cruel as to foist bland, bitter, borderline inedible gourd flesh on their Children or His as a legit food source or a delicious sprinkle on par with minced Reese’s peanut butter cups or crushed M & Ms. Sure, they play a role in some pies, a role normally reserved for items that actually belong in pie, like fruit or chocolate. But that’s only because the slippery pumpkin chunks are watered down with enough pastry, cream and sugary goodness to almost overcome the objectionable underlying taste. A bland, slimy taste, at best, with a foul after taste that dutifully follows the taster wherever they go, like wet on a dog, for hours.

Pumpkins have a venerated history to be sure. They are to be carved, lit, and a few smashed during the week of Halloween. Survivors can be hurled by Rube Goldberg contraptions for sport. As such they remain the superstar of vegetables in the mind of trick or treating children everywhere, enjoying top celebrity status; there’s even a minor deity, the Great Pumpkin, named after them. That notoriety may not be in quite the nutritious vein we wish vegetables were seen by the young, but at least they’re there, symbolically. That’s not bad for a so-called food that turns the stomachs of nine out of ten starving homeless people.

Speaking of which, if you enjoy having gross pumpkin spice tossed willy-nilly on everything in your line of sight, you’re gonna love the opponents of net neutrality. Because, just like Starbucks, they know the ISPs know best about what you really want on the Internet, or cable TV, or coming live by robot voice through your modem-attached land-line.  Naturally, a certain Texas Senator also knows best:

President Obama on Monday came out with a full-throated defense of so-called net neutrality, advocating for new rules that would keep the Internet free from the influence of broadband companies seeking to control customers’ speed and access. But not everyone is a fan of Obama’s stand.

“ ‘Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet,” Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Monday in response to the president’s announcement. “The Internet should not operate at the speed of government.”

But of course it is.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    Is there actually any pumpkin in pumpkin spice? I thought it was the stuff you put in pumpkin pies to cause it to have taste — cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and ginger, usually. So it’s basically an exercise in rebranding.

  2. magistramarla says

    You must really not like pumpkin pie. Do you feel the same way about other squash?
    As for me, bring on all of the seasonal pumpkin flavored goodies – I love them!
    We had delicious pumpkin infused English muffins with honey-pecan cream cheese with our breakfast this morning – yum! Pumpkin pie is my favorite and I’m fond of making pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin bread, too.
    I haven’t met a squash that I don’t like – spaghetti squash, butternut squash, acorn squash – those are my favorites. I recently tried a recipe of acorn squash filled with leeks and a decadent fondue that had my hubby begging for more.
    As for Cruz – he’s an idiot, as usual. If the President is for something, he has to be vocally against it.
    I’m pleased that President Obama made it clear that he is for net neutrality, and I hope that his opinion helps.

  3. lsamaknight says

    a role normally reserved for items that actually belong in pie, like fruit or chocolate

    Or you know, something savory. Beef or chicken by personal preference, especially with mushrooms. Though getting the balance of enough meat, gravy and not turning the crust soggy is kind of tricky. I’ve never understood how North Americans came to drop the savory, meat based pie from their repetoire.

    And speaking of which, every example of pumpkin pie I’ve seen isn’t a pie, it’s a tart. A proper pie needs a pastry top… or at least a pile of mash potato crisped up to substitute as one for shepherd’s pie.

  4. oualawouzou says

    I’ve never understood how North Americans came to drop the savory, meat based pie from their repetoire.

    Hey now! The Holidays are almost upon us, and we’re very proud of our tourtière in the Belle Province.

  5. magistramarla says

    I’ll have you know that I make a mean chicken pot pie and mince meat pie is a must on our holiday table!

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    Is there actually any pumpkin in pumpkin spice?

    Ermmm, no. People have come to associate the spice commonly used in pumpkin pie, allspice, with pumpkins. Similarly, most people now think that cinnamon is “apple flavor.” And what quite a lot of people think of as the taste of lobster is melted butter.

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