Food Trends

This is what happened when I lived off pumpkin spice for a day

The thought of more junk food — or worse, more dumb nutmeg — makes me gag.

The thought of more junk food — or worse, more dumb nutmeg — makes me gag.  (iStock)

If you needed a reminder of just how out of hand this whole pumpkin-spice thing has gotten, know this: They now make pumpkin-spice-flavored dog treats.

Do you want to be the one to tell these geniuses that dogs don’t celebrate Halloween? Or invest in any flavor beyond dead squirrel?

But we stupid humans clearly do, and that’s why pumpkin spice — a blend of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg, or an approximation thereof cooked up in a lab — has become one of the more unstoppable marketing gimmicks in the food biz. It’s now sprinkled on pretty much everything on Earth. Coming next year: pumpkin spiced gasoline from Shell!

And, like the popularity of Norah Jones, you can blame Starbucks for this. When the coffee megachain first rolled out its cinnamon-, nutmeg- and clove-spiced latte 12 years ago, pumpkin spice was generally confined to pie. The flavoring now pollutes everything from vodka to Four Loko to shampoo.

So if you were foolish enough to resolve to eat nothing but PS stuff for an entire day, it wouldn’t be that hard — which is what I did. And so begins the journey into an orange-tinged hell.

One thing you quickly learn is that most of the pumpkin-spice food on the market consists of snacks and desserts. Main courses, or anything resembling nutritious? Not so much.

Breakfast is the best meal of the day. I started with pumpkin spice Frosted Mini-Wheats from Kellogg’s, which the box bills as “Limited Edition!” Ooh, should I put it on eBay or do you want to?

The cereal is pretty mild, and I’m heartened to see actual spices listed among the ingredients.

Then there were Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice English muffins. They claim to be made with “REAL pumpkin,” but that addition doesn’t appear to be helping their popularity. Two of the muffins are dotted with mold, indicating a long, lonely sit on the store shelf before I bought them. I stuck to one without mold.

Lunch is a bit tougher. Luckily (?), there’s pumpkin-spice peanut butter from the Village’s Peanut Butter & Co. Spread onto bread, it mildly approaches something I might eat regularly. The pumpkin-spice Twinkie for dessert, however, is scarier than a homicidal zombie, with brownish-orange filling and a horribly artificial flavor that tastes of faux cinnamon.

At this point, the lack of healthy food is starting to wear me down. I feel tired and gross. The thought of more junk food — or worse, more dumb nutmeg — makes me gag.

A snack should pick me up. There’s a bite of an Entenmann’s pumpkin doughnut, a handful of Planters pumpkin-spice almonds, followed by a single pumpkin-spice Oreo, which consists of a suspiciously orange-colored cream sandwiched between yellow cookies. Urgh.

At this point, I can’t even bear to open the Jet-Puffed pumpkin-spice marshmallows.

By dinnertime, my body is crying out for anything not born in a Jersey flavoring vat. My only option is more peanut butter. Or maybe one of these Kashi Pumpkin Spice Flax granola bars.

It’s too much. I’m broken. Did I reach into the refrigerator and eat a nice helping of leftover beef stew? Sure did. But in my defense, one of the ingredients was cinnamon.

This story originally appeared in the New York Post.