Pumpkin Spice Is Not Actually What Pumpkin Tastes Like

Pin it button big

I am a relatively calm person. It's not easy to ruffle my feathers. But if I hear one more person claim that they "love pumpkin!" while scarfing down a snack that doesn't have one iota of pumpkin in it, I think my head might explode.

People, pumpkin spice is not actually what pumpkins taste like.

I'm probably overly sensitive to this issue for a couple reasons. First, I lived for a couple years in Japan, a country of people who actually do love pumpkin. Not pumpkin spice lattes, not pumpkin spice M&Ms, not even pumpkin pie. Pumpkin. As in, the orange-fleshed vegetable that grows from the earth. In Japan, they simmer it in dashi or tempura-fry it or even make fusion-style dishes like pumpkin-Gruyère gratin. There is no pumpkin spice in sight and it's delicious. Because it tastes like pumpkin.

The second reason behind my irrational hatred of the Cult of Pumpkin Spice is the fact that I married a man who for several years claimed to "hate pumpkin" because he didn't like pumpkin pie. As I argued with him about the flavor of pumpkin spice versus the flavor of pumpkin, I realized how deep the roots of this conspiracy ran. It was me against an entire industry hell-bent on convincing the public pumpkins taste like a combination of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Not willing to admit defeat, I made a pumpkin-Gruyère gratin for dinner — and he loved it. Now he tells people, "I hate pumpkin. Except for pumpkin gratin." I suppose that's progress.

Really, it's for the pumpkin that I'm taking a stand. Why should it be unfairly lumped into a whole class of foods that for the most part don't even include any pumpkin? Let pumpkin be pumpkin. It's time we love it — or hate it — for what it is.

What do you think? Are you a fellow pumpkin-lover who is sick of the pumpkin spice trend? Or is it not pumpkin without the spices?

(Image: Flickr member flippinyank licensed under Creative Commons)

41 Comments