Never in season

Stop talking about pumpkin spice lattes—they are terrible

August 17, 2014
August 17, 2014

We’re still weeks away from the shorter days, crisp breezes, and rusty foliage that herald autumn in much of the US. But one harbinger of autumn that has nothing to do with nature will be arriving in just days: Starbucks’ wildly popular pumpkin spice latte.

The sickly sweet flavored coffee drink’s Twitter account (yes, it has its own Twitter page with nearly 16.5K followers) announced that the PSL will arrive a month early this year, on August 25th.

While pumpkin spice lovers in the US and Canada embrace the drink’s unseasonable arrival, some Starbucks locations are reportedly stockpiling the signature syrup and some customers are already enjoying some unauthorized PSLs—iced and hot.

Since the drink was introduced in 2003 (after almost not happening), 200 million pumpkin spice lattes have been sold, according to Starbucks. The hashtag #pumpkinspicelatte has been used 26,000 times since August 2012, according to Starbucks’ website, and the drink has even become a part of a strange online racial identity trope involving white girls and yoga pants.

The Starbucks website describes the drink as “Espresso, pumpkin-flavored syrup and steamed milk. Topped with sweetened whipped cream and pumpkin pie spices.” But a glimpse of the ingredients list of the syrup make it sound less wholesome:

https://twitter.com/AarolAileen/status/498418505289854976

Here’s the bad news:

There are absolutely no traces of pumpkin. That orange color is annatto (the bright red seeds of achiote trees) and E150d, a caramel coloring. The flavor is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and pumpkin pie-flavored syrup, and pumpkin spice is sprinkled on the whipped cream.

Vegans can’t drink it. A soy PSL doesn’t eliminate the dairy. The syrup that gives the drink its sweet, warming kick contains condensed milk.

It is a sugar bomb. A grande size PSL made with regular milk amounts to 380 calories, and 49 grams of sugar. To put that into perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar a day, and women no more than 25 grams.

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