My indifference toward the PSL makes me an anomaly. Those who don’t hate it, love it. And those who love it, buy it -- often. The PSL is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal offering and the reason the pumpkin product began in the first place. Funny, considering the PSL was nearly DOA. Back in 2002 Starbucks tested possibilities for a fall flavor and pumpkin was firmly middle of the pack, behind caramel, chocolate, and cinnamon, among others. But Peter Dukes, the company’s espresso czar, saw a pumpkin-sized hole in the market and made a bet that the PSL’s novelty would make it stand out. He was right.
The drink inspired endless copycats in every grocery aisle. I ate three different pumpkin cereals over the two weeks -- Trader Joe's Pumpkin O’s, pumpkin Puffins, and pumpkin spice Frosted Mini-Wheats. I had country pumpkin spice granola, pumpkin Greek yogurt, pecan pumpkin oatmeal, and frozen pumpkin waffles, all from Trader Joe’s. There were also Entenmann’s pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts, and Trader Joe’s pumpkin rolls with pumpkin spice icing, all of which my wife was happy to try. The novelty of the pumpkin spice flavors made her feel less guilty about buying gut-busting, unhealthy food. “We never buy cinnamon rolls, so if it takes some pumpkin flavoring to get them in the house, I can live with that,” she said.