Pumpkin Spice Everything? Maybe Not.

With the temperatures still climbing into the nineties here in Texas, it doesn’t feel like fall even though the calendar says it’s October. I admit I miss the beautiful fall colors and the crispness in the air from my childhood and college days living in Iowa. I close my eyes and see the huge trees brilliant display of gold, maroon and orange on my grandparents’ farm. I hear the leaves crunching under my feet as I strolled to the barn, and I miss the traditional falls of those days.

Living in Texas I’ve learned to manufacture my own sense of fall. I decorate my porch and landscaping beds with pumpkins, scare crows and fall colored mums. I also go a little pumpkin crazy baking. I make my mother’s pumpkin bread and shared her recipe with you one fall. I bake pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bars. And yes, I’m one of those people who has been lured into trying a few pumpkin spice creations to get in the fall spirit. I thought I’d sampled quite a few until I started searching for what’s available. The plethora of pumpkin spice items I found has exploded over the last few years, but I guess that’s to be expected because everyone wants to cash in on a trend. To help you bravely face the fall prepared, here are my thoughts and those of some Facebook friends.

The first category is my I’d try those items. Special K, recommended by Teresa Fordice, Cheerios and oatmeal. While I prefer the original Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice latte that started the craze, Emily Snyder and Jennifer Jacobson recommend the cold brew with pumpkin spice cream. Jell-O-O pudding and dog treats, not for me, but rather for my dogs ?, are also on this list.

Next, is my I-haven’t-decided-about-these-products list. Gum, deodorant—because I’m not sure I want to smell like pumpkin spice—and lip balm. Then there’s my you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-someone-must’ve-been-drinking-on-the-job-to-come-up-with-this category. This list includes Pringles, tortilla chips, salsa, cough drops, and believe it or not, Spam. By the way, there’s no way on God’s green Earth I’d try that one!

Lastly, is my that-sounded-good-but-wasn’t category of items I’ve tried but didn’t like. I couldn’t believe it, but the pumpkin spice Oreos were terrible. I ate a couple and threw the rest away. How could Oreos go so wrong? Kit Kat bars were also something I expected would be a sure good thing, but nope. I bought them last Halloween in snack size with the regular Kit Kits. The whole family hated them. Then there was the pumpkin spice hand soap I bought last year. While it wasn’t a fabulous scent the way I anticipated, hubby asked I get rid of it. He said the smell reminded him of medicine he took as a child! So the results are mixed on that one. And according to Von Jocks, we should pass on the pumpkin spice rum.

Now it’s your turn. Share your pumpkin spice recommendations or warnings in a comment and be entered for the random drawing. One person will receive a Starbucks gift card, zipper pouch, and a copy of Colorado Rescue.

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Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.

69 thoughts on “Pumpkin Spice Everything? Maybe Not.”

  1. You mentioned a lot of foods I never would have imagined pumpkin spice in – and I’m glad you were the taste tester! I like pumpkin pie and bread and the smell of pumpkin candles but that’s about it, no pumpkin spice lattes for me. It’s one of those things I thing is taste until about the third sip and then that’s it. Metallic, medicinal, don’t know what it is but don’t like it. Happy October!

    • Sally, you must have been on the same medicine my hubby took as a child! That’s what he thinks of pumpkin spice too, but he has trouble with the smell. Thanks for stopping by today and I was glad to be your taste tester!

    • Abigail, I’ve had pumpkin spice lattes but haven’t yet tried the tea. Someone on FB mentioned their favorite ps item is a chai latte with two pumps of chai and two of pumpkin spice. It had to be one of my Starbucks barista friends…I’m thinking it was my dear friend Jennifer Jacobson. I’d already finished the blog when I heard from her but I love chai lattes so this one is going on my try list.

    • Denise, I’m a big tea person too. One time when my Bff Lori lived in Massachusetts we had maple tea and it was fabulous. I’ll have to try your cinnamon spice tea if the temperature here ever drops below 85!

    • Melanie, I love the melting scents. They really help it feel like fall here in Texas even if it doesn’t look like it and is 90 degrees. Thanks for stopping by today.

  2. In college we used to get pumpkin ice cream that was good and very popular in the dining hall where I worked. Some of the items you mentioned sound good others, not so much.

    • Alice, I forgot about pumpkin ice cream! Braum’s has holiday flavors. Their pumpkin and egg nog ice cream are fabulous. Thanks for reminding me I need to get some while they have it! Thanks for stopping by today.

  3. I have tried a few pumpkin spice things and must say they just don’t taste like a homemade pumpkin pie. I think so many are just a pumpkin pie spice want-to-be. Pumpkin bread and pie are about all that tastes good to me. But if one gets too heavy on the spices it ruins the delicate taste of the pie for me. 🙂

    • Roxanna, you are so right about the pumpkin spice want-to-be. Most are just a company wanting to make a buck off the trend. You’re also right that very few things stand up to homemade pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread. I cut down the spices called for in both my recipes for the very reason you said!

  4. Pumpkin spice isn’t a big deal here in Finland, unlike in your neck of woods. But few more years and who knows? There weren’t even any pumpkins available in the stores until a couple of years ago and now there are all kinds of different varieties. The latest addition seems to be patty pan pumpkin.

    • Minna, isn’t it funny how trends differ from country to country? I guess it’s all what we grow up with. Thanks for chiming in from Finland. Good to hear from you today.

  5. The only things I eat with pumpkin are pie, bread and lightly flavored cookies. I think t by ese companies have gone pumpkin crazy. Thanks for the warning on the oreos. ?

    • Carol, I know companies have gone pumpkin spice crazy now that I’m seeing all kinds of doggie items. And you’re welcome for the warning about the Oreos. Who would’ve thought anything Oreos could be awful? Thanks for stopping by today.

  6. Everyone goes nuts for pumpkin spice. I love pumpkin pie, so that’s my extent on pumpkin spice. The spam one I would not touch. Yuck, no way!!
    I’m a black coffee drinker so no way would I mess up a perfect cup of coffee. Oh I will venture out once in a while and try a pumpkin roll if it’s at Thanksgiving, but other than that I’ll stick with my pie.
    Thanks for being our taste tester on many products, I’ll take your word for it if you say it’s bad, I’ll steer clear!! Happy Fall in Texas, that’s where I grew up. We are having fall like weather here in Kansas this week, at 5:00 pm yesterday we were 67!

    • Tonya, sure, tease me with 67 degrees at 5:00. I truly miss not having fall weather this time of year! Starbucks has a good pumpkin bread and this time of year they have a pumpkin muffin with cream cheese in the middle. It’s good, too, but I hate to think of how many calories it has. It might be a nice fall splurge with your black coffee. Thanks for stopping by today.

  7. I like Pumpkin Spice Chi Latte! As well as Pumpkin Spice creamer in my coffee.

    I guess I’ve had blinders on because I’ve missed a lot of these pumpkin spice items on the market. Most of which you’ve mentioned I’m glad I missed! I mean Spam? Why, just why?

    Dessert wise, I love a pumpkin spice cake roll. The pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing is a fabulous combo. I want to make the pumpkin spice bread with the cheese cake center! I use the Libby’s recipe:


    I love pumpkin spice and the anticipation on pretty much only having it in the fall! Pumpkin spice candles being one of my favs. I will have to start paying attention to all the pumpkin spice items on the market.

    I live in Texas too but I’m close to the Pineywoods and there is fall colors out that way!

    • Stephanie, I’ve never had a ps chai latte, but I’m definitely going to try it. I asked myself the same question you did about the Spam…just why? Thank you so much for sharing the pumpkin spice cake link. I’m putting that on my got to bake this list!

  8. Much like you I love everything pumpkin, and I have learned maybe not! I refuse to put pumpkin creamer in my coffee no way, and when I want pumpkin I’m eating real pumpkin pie with enough whip cream that you can’t find the pie! One of my favorite quick recipes and so easy to make as I take a spice cake mix and mix in a can of pumpkin, you can add chocolate chips or nuts or anything you want drop it by the spoonful’s you can make cookies or a cake ….I am making this recipe for some friends that are vegan and they don’t eat any egg products .. Well now that you have me craving pumpkin I need to go make make a pumpkin cake.

    • Rose, thank you for sharing your tip about adding pumpkin to the spice cake recipe! What a fantastic tip, and even better that it can be cookies or cake. I may have to pick up those items on my way home today. And it’s nice to hear that someone else eats pumpkin pie the way I do!

  9. I love pumpkin anything. I want to try pumpkin pancakes. A friend of mine is making pumpkin butter muffins this Friday for her food delivery business she is starting up. If it weren’t a no extra money week, I would order some. I have sweet pumpkin scented lotion from Bath and Body Works that I have been using and I bought pumpkin scented air freshener spray and oil for my wall plug ins. The one that grosses me out is the Spam one. I would never try that. I saw pumpkin flavored Bailey’s Irish Cream the other day. That sounds really good, but I would be afraid to try it because if I don’t like it, it’s too expensive to throw away. Oh I almost forgot. This time of year, Braum’s has pumpkin ice cream. I have bought it in the past and it is really good.

    • Janine, I’m with you on the Bailey’s Irish Cream. It sounds like it should be good but then Oreos did too, and you’re right. It’s way too expensive to risk it being awful.

  10. i agree, too much pumpkin spice that it has been overkill. I tried the pumpkin spice creamer, I didn’t care for it but my daughter loved it so ever fall i would buy her it. but now they have pumpkin spice twinkies, cereal, bacon, jerky,poptarts,waffles. and yes i have seen douche and kleenex. To me pumpkin spice reminds me of pumpkin pie, that’s it, and now that everyone as you said is trying to cash in on it, I detest it now, and sorry, I didn’t know starbucks was the first to introduce it. I thought it was the coffee cream that did it first. I do not buy starbucks as i feel they are way over priced.

    • Elaine, you win the award for finding the weirdest pumpkin spice items! I thought Spam was odd, but douche and kleenex? You’ve got to be crazy to think up those products! I don’t know for sure that Starbucks started the trend, but that’s the first thing I remember. I think creamer companies started making it to pull in some of those pumpkin spice latte fans. Thanks for stopping by today. I’m still shaking my head over the douche and kleenex.

    • Jessica, I agree. Pumpkin baked goods are a pretty safe bet, especially if they’re homemade. I have a great recipe for pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing. Candles are also good, but I’m with you. After that, I’m not so sure. Thanks for stopping by today.

    • Nothing wrong with that. I think baked apple things also are great in the fall, especially if you live in an area that has orchards. Oooh, now I’m craving a good apple crisp AND pumpkin cake.

    • Charlene, I’ve never had pumpkin fudge. I know a place in Gainesville, TX called What the Fudge that has fabulous fudge. I need to see if they have pumpkin. I know they have maple and that’s another of my favorite fall flavors. Thanks for stopping by and mentioning the fudge.

      • There are some pumpkin spice items I will try and then some that are an absolute NO!! Pumpkin pie, rolls, cake, cookies, yes!! But don’t mess up my black coffee or the Spam for that matter….just not right!!!!

  11. Oh this list makes me laugh and smile! Thanks for the heads up on the oreos and hand soap. LOL. I agree, Pumpkin spice should NOT be in everything. I’d rather just have it special in drinks or maybe one food so it is super special every fall. I refuse to try anything that is not normal for pumpkin spice.

  12. I only drink hot tea which is soothing and chai tea is my favorite flavor as well as lemon. The pumpkin spice trend missed me by a mile.

    • I’m a big chai tea fan, too. I need to see if I can find maple tea again. I’ll have to look when I visit my son back east. Also, Denise recommends cinnamon spice tea.

  13. What a new product which has such popularity. Since I am old school it does not appeal to me at all. I enjoy apple, cinnamon and citrus.

  14. I can handle only so much pumpkin spice. The first one or two things taste great, then I’m over it. But Christmas? I can have those flavors all year long! (Peppermint, balsam, chocolate, cinnamon . . . I can go on and on!)

  15. The only pumpkin spice I want anything to do with is in pumpkin pie! I don’t mess with any of the other stuff. Definitely not scents, as with my allergies, I don’t even want to deal with it!! I have friends that like anything Pumpkin spice, though!

  16. The pumpkin spice craze which is evident every fall does not interest me. I stick to my old standbys which give me great pleasure. Numerous flavorful teas.

    • I don’t know if Olive Garden has it, but my best friend gave me a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake. That’s another one I do enjoy that I forgot about. Thanks for reminding me about that one!

  17. I pretty much avoid everything pumpkin except pumpkin roll and my grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin raisin cookies. They’re stuffed with raisins and walnuts and topped with homemade brown sugar icing. They’re actually my sister’s favorite cookies, but she doesn’t bake much. Every other year or so, I try to make a big batch of them for her at Christmas.

    • Carrie, your grandmother’s cookies sound heavenly! And how sweet that you bake them for your sister. I bet they are her favorite Christmas gift every year. I know they’d be mine. 🙂

  18. Julie, I hate all this pumpkin stuff. I don’t mind a few things but no coffee, coffee creamer, oatmeal, and the million other products. Nope. That’s crazy.

  19. Julie, I love pumpkin spice, but not in everything, especially not in the Pringles, chips, crackers etc. I love Cherrios Pumpkin Spice, and I buy it as long as it’s on the shelves. Also, I recommend Cherrios Maple. Just like the Spice version, it tastes natural and not artificial. For coffee drinkers, I recommend Nestles Coffee-Mate Pumpkin Spice. I have a bottle in my frige right now, and it is so delicious in my coffee. It’s another item that does not taste artificial. And I love pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top of baked yams and sweet potatoes, with a little butter and maple syrup. DEE-licious! And last but not least, of course pumpkin pie and pumpkin spiced muffins!

    • Sharon, thank you for all the recommendations. Sounds like those of us who like pumpkin have pretty much agreed that baked goods are a yes and savory stuff like chips, etc. are a big no. I’ve never seen the Maple Cheerios, but that’s something I’d definitely try! Thanks for all you’ve shared for items to try.

  20. Pumpkin is not appealing, even pumpkin pie I avoid. The pumpkin popularity mystifies me. I appreciate normal flavors.

    • Ellie, we all have something that we don’t like. Taste buds can be a funny thing. Everybody always thinks I’m odd because I’m not super crazy about chocolate. Thanks for stopping by today.

  21. I like pumpkin spice flavors only on pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and even pumpkin cookies (not oreo pumpkin flavored, just the regular home baked cookies with maybe even raisins and pecans in them) or cake. Drinkable pumpkin flavored drinks are not for me thank you, not even coffee or lattes or blizzards, No Thanks. I enjoyed reading this article, very interesting how they incorporate pumpkin in a lot of things, No pumpkins soaps for me either, or deodorants. Now pumpkin spice candles , are fine. Have a Great rest of the week.

    • Alicia, I forgot about Pumpkin blizzards! The items are truly endless. What will they come up with next. Not sure I’m ready for more crazy items. Thanks for stopping by and have a great October!

  22. I love pumpkin spice Special K, but never ordered a single drink at Starbucks. Krogers has pumpkin spice creamer year around and yes I use it year around!!

  23. I am not a pumpkin spice fan. Before the trend, I rarely even ate pumpkin pie. I would make it every Thanksgiving because family members like it. If any, I would have just a sliver with lots of whipped cream. I have tried a few of the pumpkin spice items that have come out, but haven’t found any I like. I will say that I have used pumpkin as a squash for soups and as a roasted vegetable and it is pretty good.

  24. I know I may be a minority of one, but after years of hearing how delicious Starbuck’s Pumkin Lattes were I decided to try one. To me it was one of the nastiest tasting things I’d ever tried. I even asked them to remake it, which they very willingly did. I took another drink and walked away after expressing my thanks. At the first trash can I came to I quietly disposed of it. What a disappointment.

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