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Pumpkin Spice Derangement Syndrome is here already

Guess what’s back, earlier than ever?Shutterstock / Nataliya Arzamasova

She’s never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The drink that drives soccer moms and yoga-pants pushers wild has somehow eluded my editor in the 15 years since it first debuted.

That ends today. It’s August. It’s 94 degrees. I have on a romper. And Starbucks decided to just say no to fall equinox and declare this day Pumpkinox, the first day of the Pumpkin Spice season. Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-11 are on board, too.

If I’m going to drink in Halloween and Thanksgiving, it’s only right I take someone’s PSL virginity.

We get a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino. Sitting on a rooftop deck with the sun in our eyes, I watch her as she takes the first hot sip.


She tastes it like a wine-drinker, slowly moving it around her palate. And then her face says it all: Meh.

“It’s good,” she tries to appease me. But her side-eye defied her words. I hand her the frap. One tug of the straw and her face lights up.

“Now that’s something I can get behind,” she says, shaking her head yes.

In this weather? Of course the frap is better.

Starbucks first started this trend, debuting the drink on Oct. 10, 2003. A decade later, more than 200 million of them had been sold. The PSL is the coffee giant’s most popular seasonal drink and they didn’t even start using real pumpkin in the concoction until 2015. The craze was so real that the drink started hitting stores the first week of September five years ago. You know, just after Labor Day, the unofficial start of fall.

Traditionally, September is when Starbucks and other coffee shops bring on flavors like Chestnut Praline and Salted Caramel Mocha.

But the staying power of Pumpkin Spice and everything caffeinated Halloween sweet and nice is undeniable. Not only do we keep seeing it earlier and earlier, it’s a jack-o-lantern of all trades.


Pumpkin Spice Derangement Syndrome is real. There have been seasonal Oreo Pumpkin Spice cookies. Panera has an iced pumpkin cookie. Auntie Anne’s is serving Pumpkin Spice pretzel nuggets in September because I guess you need that.

Unfortunately for PSL lovers like myself, the Internet declared it the drink of basic b***hes years ago. Not even Martha Stewart disagreed.

But, I mean, a Pumpkin Spice Latte is best served with a cool breeze, a pair of Uggs, and Lululemon leggings.

It’s a drink beloved by the poppiest of pop stars. Taylor Swift included the flavor in her ode to fall. Katy Perry had a PSL countdown. Cosmo celebrated the early arrival on Twitter.

I say, if this is a female white privilege uniform, maybe I can wear it and taste its luxuries.

All jokes aside, I have no shame enjoying the simple and universally loved things. I just want them seasonally.

I get it when people drink iced lattes in the winter because I’m eating ice cream year round. But August is too early for these winter games, y’all.

Why are we doing this? I know Starbucks is having a rough year. In June, it was announced 150 of its underperforming stores would close next year. A month earlier, 8,000 stores closed for a day of anti-bias training because you can’t toss people out for waiting in a coffee shop while black.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh encouraged the chain to withdraw an application to open shop at the entrance of the North End. It’s hard out here for the coffee gang.


But jumping the (seasonally flavored) shark is not a quick business fix. Let summer live. I just want to enjoy summer’s last breath sans squash-inspired drinks before the leaves change and the wind wraps us in its grip.

Would it have killed them to wait a week to push the flavors of fall upon us?

I know, I didn’t have to buy one.

But here we are. I’m drinking a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino during a heat wave. I’ve caught the fever for the fall flavor. Ain’t no smashing this pumpkin.

Jeneé Osterheldt can be reached at and on Twitter @sincerelyjenee.