The temperature is in the 90s, but it feels like more than 100 with the heat index. There is a heat advisory in Washington. But here I am, drinking a piping hot pumpkin spice latte — a cup of warm milk and nutmeg in a heat-insulated cardboard sleeve — on a day when people are wearing flip-flops and tank tops, and here’s why:
- My editor hates me, I think? It was his idea. “Maura, don’t you want to drink a PSL on possibly the hottest day of the year and write about it?” he asked me on Slack. I agreed in hopes that if I fainted from heatstroke, he would give me a comp day. I have not yet fainted, unfortunately.
- I wrote a story one year ago about how I survived an entire week on pumpkin spice products — the yogurts and cereals and candies and, yes, deodorants — that taste and smell of cinnamon and cloves, and what they represent (answer: a feeling of warmth and crass commercialism). It made me an expert on pumpkin spice, which is not a thing to be proud of, kind of like being an expert on fidget spinners, or the band Smash Mouth. Anyway, I have endured worse.
- Aug. 28 is the earliest that Starbucks has ever brought back the pumpkin spice latte.
But really: Aug. 28! It’s six days before Labor Day, the metaphorical start of autumn, and three weeks before the actual lunar start of autumn. Many children were not yet back in school on Aug. 28. The leaves are still on the trees, and the only place you need a sweater is inside an over-air-conditioned office building. At least on the East Coast, we are more than a month away from the temperature at which nutmeg is an acceptable flavor, people. A month.
But pumpkin spice waits for no cold front. And pumpkin spice season comes earlier each year, like how Christmas displays go up in some stores the day after Halloween. Whither Labor Day and Thanksgiving — both edged out by our overeagerness to move on to the next holiday or season. Let summer be summer! And let it go out with hot dogs and watermelon and not a single hint of allspice.
This is a slippery slope. When pumpkin spice inflicts itself upon us in the summer, it means the types of products that get pumpkin spiced expand dramatically. This is a dark pathway, one that inevitably ends in pumpkin spice Popsicles. Pumpkin spice lemonade. Pumpkin spice sunscreen.
Anyway, my editor wants me to tell you what it’s like to drink a piping hot pumpkin spice latte on one of the hottest days of the year. I can report that it is very sweaty. Good thing there’s pumpkin spice deodorant.
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