Nowadays everything, it seems, is flavored like pumpkin pie, from lattes and martinis to pet shampoo. Susan Spencer looks into the spice of life:
The ominous warning signs are there: Pumpkin Spice is taking over the world.
"Certainly the pumpkin spice latte was the one product that really expanded into other foods," said Jill Pratt.
Starbucks launched its Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, and the dam broke. Meet Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Twinkies, cereal, even Pumpkin Spice Hershey's kisses.
It feels like it's almost illegal not to have a food that is flavored with pumpkin spice!
Over the past year, Americans spent more than $400 million on pumpkin spice stuff.
"Well, pumpkin pie spice is one of those symbolic fall flavors," said Pratt, a bona fide pumpkin spice expert; she works as VP of marketing at McCormick, the spice company, in Hunt Valley, Md.
If there's a Pumpkin Spice Central Command, this is it. More accurately, McCormick calls it Pumpkin PIE Spice.
Pratt's dress, by the way, is the color of pumpkin pie. "It might have occurred to me this morning," she said.
"You've now got Pumpkin Pie Spice Pet Shampoo -- what's going on?" asked Spencer.
"That's a little unusual!" Pratt said.
"If you really want your dog to smell like a pie, you can do this?"
"Well, they've smelled worse!" she laughed.
And what about Pumpkin Pie Spice Deodorant? "I've not experienced that product," Pratt said.
And what about body lotion? "Well, that I can see!"
"Of course, you can -- you work here!"
So, how much actual pumpkin is in pumpkin pie spice? "I think that would actually be a little bit gross if we sold pumpkin in the pumpkin pie spice can," Pratt laughed.
Pumpkin Pie Spice is a blend of four spices: cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg.
McCormick started the magic back in 1934. "Pumpkin pie spice was originally created to make great-tasting pumpkin pies," Pratt said.
How quaint that seems … once you've tasted a Pumpkin Spice Martini.
"I could have seven or eight more of them," laughed Spencer.
Needless to say, McCormick loves the idea that anything tasty is tasti-er with a bit of pumpkin pie spice.
"We have almonds that are baked with a pumpkin pie spice," said Pratt. "We have twice-baked sweet potatoes with pumpkin pie spice. We have cream cheese with pumpkin pie spice."
See for yourself with these recipes:
And can Jill Pratt think of any use that she would absolutely reject it for? "Pumpkin pie spice asparagus," she replied.
Don't say it -- somebody'll do it!
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