Apparently it’s November. You’ll forgive my confusion about the time of year, as everyone seems to have rolled out the Christmas decorations already. This sort of makes sense, since people have been trying to sell me Pumpkin Spice Everything since Labor Day. Pumpkin spice overload is here, and it’s real. I admit I’m just as guilty as the next person – there’s pumpkin spice coffee in my pantry, and I may or may not have hosted a pumpkin beer tasting. But now there’s still almost a month to Thanksgiving, and my tastebuds need a break before it’s time for actual pumpkin pie. So here are ten flavor suggestions if you’re also getting bored of all things pumpkin and need something new to flavor your latte/M&Ms/beer/marshmallows/vodka/dog treats.
Cranberry. Long the literal red-headed stepchild of the Great Pumpkin, cranberry is finally starting to come into its own. My personal favorite incarnation of this seasonal delight is cranberry ginger ale. It’s just the right amount of tart. (Canada Dry is really the way to go in my opinion; I have tried cranberry Sprite and it was not to my liking, but feel free to make up your own mind.)
Stuffing. If they start rolling out pumpkin spice in September, why does it take most chains until October, or even later, to roll out my absolute favorite of the fall seasonal foods – the Thanksgiving sandwich? Yes, there’s turkey and cranberry in here as well, but we all know what makes this sandwich, and it’s the stuffing. At any other time of year, eating seasoned cubes of bread inside more bread would just feel wrong, but at Thanksgiving we can embrace this. Enjoy this magical time while it lasts.
Chocolate Chai. If you’re tired of the PSL (yeah, I called it that) and want to change up your order at the ‘bucks, give this one a shot. I’m mostly plugging it because I’m pretty sure Starbucks introduced it based on a barista who misheard my order years ago. I was at the time attempting to order the sadly short lived “Chocolate Cherry Mocha”, but the barista apparently heard “Chocolate Chai,” and so that was what I got. Unlike pumpkin spice, I think this one might actually make for some decent M&M and Hershey Kiss varieties if it takes off.
Sweet potato praline casserole. This might be my favorite Thanksgiving food. It’s sweet, it’s nutty, you can pretend it’s healthy because sweet potatoes are good for you…I see no reason we can’t distill the flavors of this side dish/secret dessert into a syrup that someone can start putting into my lattes.
Gingerbread. This is fall flavor is attempting to give pumpkin spice a run for its money. You can get it in lattes, in breakfast pastries, and in my personal favorite form, Gingerbread Spice tea (not to be confused with Ginger Spice tea, which would be…interesting). It even has its own Oreo, which is how you know you’ve made it in the flavor world.
Figgy pudding. Sure, no one knows what this is. But it’s a Traditional Holiday Food, which means someone should be using it as a flavor of something. I’m open to suggestions.
Mince pie. If you’re not familiar, this delightful holiday dessert involves some combination of fruit and nuts and spices and general deliciousness most easily found in the UK. It’s fantastic, and it’s time we bring this delight over to our side of the pond. I’m thinking the easiest place to debut it en masse will be in Pop Tarts (they’re sort of like pie, right?) and see where it goes from there.
Mulled Wine. Forget hot chocolate or spiced cider, mulled wine is definitely my favorite drink in the “warm, non-caffeinated” beverage category. Yes, it doesn’t hurt that this is a wine-based beverage, but I just like the way it tastes. If Starbucks were to start making a non-alcoholic version of this so I could sip it while walking around and doing my Christmas shopping, I would be all over that.
Fruit Cake. It’s my belief that fruit cake has unfairly come by its bad reputation. Yes, the mass produced bricks people sometimes give as gifts can be gross, but this is a dessert that has its heart in the right place. My mom used to make fruitcake cookies that were quite good, so I think there’s potential here. Dominique Ansel, Cronut inventor, I challenge you to make a trendy fruit cake. Go.
Gravy. It’s just as, if not more, essential to Thanksgiving than pumpkin pie (you can reheat all your leftovers smothered in gravy, smothered in pie not so much), so perhaps it’s time gravy takes on a larger role. People are into the sweet/savory thing, I think the world is ready for the gravy flavored latte. No?
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