Pumpkin Spice: The GeekMoms Take Sides

This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble). CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL , via Wikimedia Commons.

With fall’s arrival comes the annual tradition of All Things Pumpkin. pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, every delicious morsel of pumpkin baked goods. Fall also brings the “pumpkin spice” beverage phenomenon, a blend of ingredients added to your caffeine fix that evokes the flavors of those desserts but usually has no actual pumpkin.

Every year when the weather gets chilly my social media feeds suddenly explode with gourd gossip. This is a passionate subject for some people. It’s like the Beatles vs. Rolling Stones question: Do you pumpkin spice, or do you not?

Personally, if it’s got the word “pumpkin” in it, and it’s sometime between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, count me in. I love baked goods with actual pumpkin most of all, but I do get a giddy thrill ordering a pumpkin spice drink this time of year. I’m not a purist–I’ll take mine with real pumpkin or with mystery syrup.

In the spirit of friendly fall debate, I polled the other GeekMoms to see what side of this issue they fall on (ha! Get it? Fall on??). It sparked a lengthy email discussion. Jules, our resident Canadian, said, “Until this thread, I had no idea pumpkin spice was such a thing. I’m on neither list as I couldn’t tell you what a pumpkin spice thing looks, smells, or tastes like. The only pumpkin anything I know is pumpkin pie.” Remember those days, America? When all we knew of pumpkin was pie?

Since several of us are in the yes-but-only-real-pumpkin camp, I divided answers based on how intense the feelings were towards pumpkin spice as opposed to plain old pumpkin (or whether we had even tried pumpkin spice). Because DATA and SCIENCE.

Anti-Pumpkin Spice

Ruth: Pumpkin Spice All The Things just means that the fraction of the world that will Gingerbread All The Things is near. I would really like the PS madness to pass, as long as it doesn’t take my gingerbread lattes with it.

Laura: I may have pumpkin-colored walls, but I’m in with the real-pumpkin-only crowd. “Pumpkin flavored” oatmeal, granola, bagels, lattes, milkshakes, bath gel, candles, ad nauseam are mostly ways for marketers to push more product. It’s as similar as flower scented air freshener is to actual flowers. Oh wait, there’s pumpkin scented air freshener, too. That said, live and let live is my policy. I honor your choice to slurp, chomp, or bathe in pumpkin-spiced stuff.

Corrina: I don’t drink coffee. I haven’t tried pumpkin spice tea. Haven’t found it yet, though I’m sure it exists. Otherwise…hmm…I like Pumpkin Ale.

Sarah: Why? Why? Why?

Natania: If latte is in the pumpkin spice. No. Just no. I worked at Starbucks when they first came out, and I know what’s in the sausage…mmm…pumpkin spice sausage.

Pro-Pumpkin Spice

Melanie: I am PRO PUMPKIN SPICE, all the way, baby. I don’t care WHAT’S in the latte sausage. When October rolls around and the weather goes to crap, nothing makes me feel better than a little PSL.

Rebecca: I only approve of pumpkin in my treats when it’s actually pumpkin, not a flavoring. Can this be done? Yes! My local tea shop makes a pumpkin spice latte with actual pumpkin (then strained). It is TOTALLY DELISH! But in general, the fake pumpkin spice flavoring thing is gross. So I side on the YES (but only real pumpkin).

Jenny: I’m securely in the PRO camp for all things traditional fall dessert. I’m with Rebecca. I adore pumpkin flavored any-kind-of-dessert IF it uses real pumpkin and spices. Can’t wait for it each year and make the most of it by devouring as many pumpkin things as I can get my hands on. But doubly so for gingerbread. Gingerbread is magic. Pure autumn magic.

Natalie: I’m pretty much into pumpkin everything–and I mean EVERYTHING. But is “pumpkin spice” a kind of false advertising? I mean, is there ANY pumpkin in it, or is it just… spice? Not that I’m against the cinnamon-nutmeg-clove-etc. thing. But is that not the stuff that’s added to pumpkin, not actual pumpkin?

Lisa: Honestly, I just really enjoy the fall season and all of its trappings, so pumpkin spice is just another cozy aspect.

Cathe: Check me off for real pumpkin. I found a pumpkin spice cinnamon roll recipe on Pinterest. We LOVE it. It uses crescent rolls for the dough, but the pumpkin is REAL…and cream cheese pumpkin spice frosting…okay, I need to go bake now.

Maryann: I am a total fan of pumpkin spice! A few years back, I was on such a pumpkin spice kick that every frozen coffee drink that I had for a year was pumpkin spice-flavored. I’ve improved my diet, and I rarely eat processed food anymore, so now the pumpkin spice has to be real pumpkin and organic ingredients. But I’m still pumpkin spice all the way if given the opportunity.

Patricia: I’m a big fan of the pumpkin stuff but it has to be REAL!

Rachel: I went to Trader Joe’s this afternoon and bought a bunch of pumpkin things… and I am blaming EVERYONE on this list!!

So, the winner here is all of us because to each her own. Also, Rachel. Rachel is kind of winning. Now I want a pumpkin muffin.

Are you pro- or anti-pumpkin spice?

Jackie Reeve is a Core Contributor and former Senior Editor at GeekMom. She's a librarian, a writer, and a quilt designer. She's wife to an Englishman and mom to a little geek girl, and she blogs about life and crafts at The Orange Room. Jackie's obsessed with cardigans and thinks Die Hard is the best Christmas movie there is.