“Pumpkin spice lattes are eggnog for morning people.” —John Oliver



The coming and going of National Pumpkin Spice Latte Day on Aug. 24, coupled with shortening days and lengthening nights, crisp mornings, colorful North Woods “Colorama” season celebrations and last week’s advent of the autumnal equinox, can only mean one thing — goodbye shorts, sandals and char-grilled meats, and hello parkas, ugly sweaters and all things pumpkin spice.

I was reminded of that in earnest last week as I walked the aisles at Pick ’n Save and happened across a newly-arrived shipment of pumpkin spice. 

Cue the dissonant violins. 

Quite frankly, where many Americans are celebrating National Pumpkin Spice Latte Day, National Pumpkin Spice Day, National Pumpkin Seed Day, National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day and National Pumpkin Day, I’m more apt to be the guy celebrating National Cheeseball Day, National Chicken Wing Day, National Chili Dog Day and National Pepperoni Pizza Day, and toasting yesterday’s observance of National Drink Beer Day with a cold PBR longneck, channeling my inner Felix Unger. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against pumpkins, whether carving or eating. While I enjoy eating the occasional festive pinwheel slice of homemade pumpkin roll or partaking in the hallowed pumpkin pie tradition at Thanksgiving, I’ve just never been able to jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon since it left the station in 2003. 

And unlike the avocado-colored appliances of my 1970s childhood, the national pumpkin spice craze shows no signs of slipping into the dustbin of history alongside sea monkeys, pet rocks, mood rings and other dubious ideas that seemed quite sensible at the time. 

Having jumped the shark with organic spray-on pumpkin spice seasoning and pumpkin spice scented toilet paper and COVID face masks, the pumpkin spice craze rolls on with no end in sight.

With the impending turn of the calendar to October, we will soon be deluged by all things pumpkin spice in your local store’s dedicated pumpkin spice aisle, including pumpkin spice-infused coffee, creamers, cereal, bread, bagels, muffins, cinnamon rolls, air fresheners, tea, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, pudding, candles, scented oils, ravioli, bone broth, yogurt, butter spread, granola and protein bars, kombucha, kale chips, popcorn, caramels, cookies, crackers, salsa, gelato, coconut milk, donuts, cheese and cream cheese, ice cream, dog treats, lip balm, seltzer, liqueur, vodka, beer, rum and jello shots.

And that’s just the tip of the pumpkin spice iceberg, as companies pump out more and more pumpkin spice products by the year to meet the insatiable demand — Twinkies, Peeps, Kit Kats, Cheerios and Pop-Tarts, ramen, almonds, Pringles, candy corn, hummus, smoothies, pretzels, truffles, marshmallows, beard oil, and car detail spray. 

Perhaps most famously, there was global food giant Hormel’s limited edition 2019 online-only rollout of allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg-infused Pumpkin Spice Spam, famously critiqued in the New York Post as Hormel’s “own demented take on everybody’s favorite orange gourd.” 

Earning positive ink from tony Food & Wine as erring “on the side of a breakfast food” that “could easily be slathered in maple syrup as you might with breakfast sausage,” Pumpkin Spice Spam developed something of a cult following with pumpkin spice epicures. 

Originally retailed at spam.com and walmart.com at $8.98 for a two-pack, selling out in just seven hours, today a single vintage 12-ounce tin of Pumpkin Spice Spam can fetch upwards of $150 on eBay. 

As the old saying goes, a pumpkin spice devotee and their money are soon parted. 

Even restaurants have gotten in on the pumpkin spice craze over the years, quickly moving far beyond DQ Blizzards,?Starbucks lattes and milkshakes offered up by the likes of McDonald’s, Sonic, Culvers, Jack in the Box and Steak ‘n Shake. 

Consider Los Angeles-based gourmet burger chain Umami’s Pumpkin Spice Latte Burger and KFC Australia’s Pumpkin & Feta Twister — grilled chicken, crumbled feta, roasted pumpkin, lettuce, and a smoky chipotle mayo wrapped in a flour tortilla. 

Pumpkin spice is taking over the world — and, apparently now, even the bathroom shower.

Scrolling my online newsfeed the other night, I read that Minneapolis-based men’s grooming product purveyor Duke Cannon Supply Co. is now rolling out a 10-ounce “Basic A**” bar of “autumnal bliss” — pumpkin spice latte soap — “while supplies last, or until peppermint bark season.” 

My first thought was that it’s pretty late for an April Fool’s joke, but as it turns out it’s legit, with Duke Cannon retailers as near as 1.27 miles from my Boulder Junction home. Who knew?

The ad shows a bearded guy in the great outdoors, jubilantly tossing colorful fall leaves in the air to celebrate the arrival of pumpkin spice latte soap, billed as “a popular seasonal offering” that clocks in “3x bigger than other pumpkin themed soaps,” including the rival pumpkin spice soap-on-a-rope. 

After all, apparently there’s nothing more manly in the 21st century than spreading the intoxicating aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice wherever you go.

All of which begs several questions in my demented mind. 1) Can you use this without out a man bun? And 2) Will you have to fight off fangirl legions of pumpkin spice-crazed soccer moms and the [Pumpkin] Spice Girls? 

As for me, pumpkin spice latte soap is a hard pass. I’ll stick with my longtime go-to, Irish Spring — at least until a pepperoni pizza and PBR-scented soap comes along.



When he’s not busy avoiding all things pumpkin spice, Eric Johnson can be reached at ericj@vcnewsreview.com.