Pumpkin spice free since… umm… last Tuesday?


Or, never. We’ve probably never really been pumpkin spice free around here.

That does not mean we have pumpkin spice added to anything and everything now that fall is closing in, the evenings are darkening a bit earlier, and the cool weather is approaching.

Also doesn’t mean we’re avoiding it. After all, I do love everything about autumn. Pumpkin and apples and gingerbread? Sign me up. Love the stuff.

What I’m having issues with is more about how it permeates everything and takes over seemingly normal and respectable areas that are suddenly looking to earn a slice of the pie. Feels like one thing when places are tying into the season, offering pumpkin and apple themed dishes. Quite another when a tidal wave of overwhelming offerings and advertisements crashes into the community, bringing along with it an assortment that supposedly everyone wants while at the same time actually being good far too infrequently.

Unique and quaint is lost. Steamrolled by those rushing toward the trend.

Here’s a funny thought. Did you know virtually any place that has a kitchen will struggle to be fully gluten-free?


Think of it with something of a peanut observation. Have you ever seen those warnings on products saying they were produced in a facility that processed nuts? Ok, shift that idea to flour being in the air. I read an article someplace that said the use of wheat flour can leave traces in the air for around a week or more in levels that could trigger a person with such allergies and sensitivities.

Now, this isn’t headed down a road where I’m going to compare a functioning kitchen using flour to the arrival of pumpkin spice. Instead, I’m trying to merge a few thoughts to see where it takes us.

Coconut jelly sticks.

I love coconut jelly sticks. Get them fresh at the right place and they can ascend to that rarified level of culinary delights few creations manage to reach.

Many years ago, a few chains stopped carrying them in their stores. I heard two conflicting stories about why. In one store, employees would tell you about allergies and making the property safe for all guests. Which, yes, important and I’m ok with that. Also heard some people say that coconut was an item that set off the cost structure of things, making the coconut jelly stick a bit too expensive compared to other donuts from a profitability per piece standpoint.

(I’d start this next sentence with a “far be it for me to” type of disclaimer, but you wouldn’t buy that. So, let’s just take the plunge knowing it absolutely be it from me.)

Could it be that the idea of not having them due to allergies just so happens to be a really convenient excuse a business could use for dropping an item from the store that wasn’t earning at the same level as other items?

Well, since they still sell baked goods… have seemingly dropped other items from their offerings… coconut allergies are considered fairly rare… and other allergies such as gluten and such seem to be more common… yeah. I think it’s an excuse of convenience.

How does that tie in to the pumpkin spice? Profit. Always follow the dollars.

Look, I’m part of the group. In a way, part of the problem. In a week or so, Count Chocula will be making its annual fall return to grocery stores. I’m already checking aisles and end cap displays.

On occasion, I just wish that there was room for coconut jelly sticks more often. Something a little special, just for the select few that will notice. Maybe I’m all alone on this one, but I believe that’s the type of thing that makes for unique treasures.

(Then again, if anyone knows a place making really good—we’re talking the best of the best—pumpkin whoopie pies, let me know. My favorite place was a family business that ended its run for retirement, and I’ve been looking for something to replace it for years.)


If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com