P.S. I Love You

When it comes to snack foods, I’m not a fan of variations on a theme. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts debuted in the 1960s with just four flavors: strawberry, blueberry, apple, and brown sugar cinnamon. Today you choose from more than twenty Tarts, including “Hot Fudge Sundae”. The original Triscuit cracker was a baked whole wheat square with a little salt. Today you’ll find a dozen Triscuit flavors on the shelf, including “Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil”. Then we have the Oreo cookie. The original, of course, was two chocolate wafers sandwiching just the right amount of vanilla cream filling. Now Oreo flavors are too numerous to count.  But there’s one you can be sure is a whopping success: pumpkin spice.

 Welcome to mid-September, Americans, and the beginning of our pumpkin spice delirium.  For the next two months you can expect an endless parade of “P.S.” product advertisements.  My wife & I, we’ve already caved to the obsession.  We have a package of “Pumpkin Spice Snaps” sitting on the counter.  We have two leftover pieces of this year’s first homemade pumpkin pie sitting in our frig.  And it’s only a matter of time before my car veers off the road and right through a Starbucks drive-thru for one of their classic P.S. lattes.  (I’ll take a grande, if you please).

My daughter just reminded me Starbucks also brings back their pumpkin cream cold brew this time of year.  That’s a good one too but let’s be real: none of Starbucks’ P.S. offerings should be considered “coffee”.  We buy them for the spice and the sweet, not for the taste of the beans underneath.

Lest you think Starbucks gets the credit for our pumpkin spice mania, the record must be set straight.  McCormick and Company, they of the little red-capped spice bottles, debuted their “Pumpkin Pie Spice” in 1934.  At least three of the following are in the bottle: cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg.  Do I have this spice blend?  Yes.  Do I use it?  Heck, no.  My wife’s family recipe for pumpkin pie contains a different proportion of the individual spices than McCormick’s, which may be the secret to its delectable flavor.  Plus, pumpkin pie is easy enough to make without having the spices combined for you. Dump the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Pour into a pie shell.  Bake. My kind of dessert.

Starbucks can’t even take the credit for the first P.S. latte.  That accolade goes to Mexico’s Candle Company in 1995.  The Starbucks version debuted eight years later.  But you could argue Starbucks kicked off the forever-trend where we infuse P.S. into everything imaginable, including the good (Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cheerios, candles) and the ridiculous  (lip balm, deodorant, beer).  As of 2016, “pumpkin spice consumables” accounted for an annual market of over $500M. Yep, we’re hooked.

The “Pumpkin Spice Flavored Creme Oreo” is not even an Oreo, at least not in my pantry.  Nabisco attached the word “Oreo” but c’mon, let’s just admit it’s a seasonal wolf in sandwich cookie clothing.  “Golden” Oreo cookies… with “festive pumpkin spice flavored cream” (and is it cream or creme?)  Nope, the only Oreos in my book are black and white, though I will allow shelf space for the “Double Stuf” variety.

I’m not sure why this topic caught my eye because I haven’t had an Oreo in years.  The last time I did I realized the taste was different from the Oreo of my youth.  The cookies are not as soft, and there’s less cream filling in between (which is like messing with the ratio of chocolate and peanut butter in a Reese’s, a sin for all mankind).  Like the misfortune of many other snack foods though, size and ingredients change for the sake of profit.  And new varieties pop up to keep consumers buying.  At least we’re not talking about the Lady Gaga Oreo.  You’ll need your sunglasses for that one.

Now you’ll excuse me as I head off to a doctor’s appointment.  My drive will take me past several Starbucks, which means I could be caving to my first P.S. latte of the season.  Not that I’m worried about missing out.  As soon as the P.S. season is over I can look forward to Starbucks’ Chestnut Praline latte all the way through New Year’s Day.  Now we’re talking!

Some content sourced from the CNN Business article, “Oreo is bringing back this flavor after a 5-year hiatus:, and Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

25 thoughts on “P.S. I Love You

  1. Three miles from my home is a bakery that I went to for the first time in November 2020. Due to the pandemic, my wife and I celebrated Thanksgiving at home, with no one else at the table. The meal was crowned by a pumpkin pie that I bought at the bakery I mentioned. That pie was as good as any I’ve ever had, maybe better. I’ll buy another one in November.

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    1. I love a good pumpkin pie, Neil. I’ll never forget, at a family Thanksgiving potluck years ago, several people signed up to bring pumpkin pie. We had at least six different recipes on the dessert table, each claiming to be “the best pumpkin pie”. Which is how I feel about my own recipe, of course 😉

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  2. LOL — So, oreos don’t taste the same. Sounds like my pizza post. I think A LOT of foods from our youth are changing flavors. Well, ingredients change, now so many different kids of pizza / oreos — like you mentioned, the choices are so enormous that the taste changes with that as we TRY new flavors. Sigh… it was easier when we had 2-4 choices.

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  3. One piece of advise: Get the PS latte after they take your blood pressure. Drink it before and you could be sentenced to months of BP rechecks, blood tests and EKG things being stuck and ripped off you chest.

    not that it’s happened to me … okay just the once …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve identified the one aspect of the P.S. latte that makes me pause. All that added sugar (and chemicals), and I’m perfectly happy with a Flat White anyway. Who knows – maybe I make it through the P.S. season without a Starbucks latte after all. But the Chestnut Praline ooooo… that one’s gonna be a tougher pass.

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    1. I think birthday-cake anything is worth trying. Not sure if it’s the taste itself or the nostalgia of childhood celebrations but it’s an appealing flavor, especially in ice cream.

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  4. I’m not a fan of Pumpkin Spice in anything other than pumpkin pie– and even then one slice per year is enough for me. BUT if you like your PS lattes then please feel to enjoy. I’ll just have a black coffee.

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  5. I don’t like pumpkin spice, and don’t care much about pumpkin anything either. I don’t go to Starbucks often, but when I do I always have the same thing: small caffe mocha with little whipped cream.
    Enjoy your latte – life is too short!
    Blessings!

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  6. I haven’t tried them myself, but Oreos have been discussed in many of the tech blogs I read and podcasts I listen to, and everyone swears that “Newman O’s” taste more like Oreo cookies originally did than modern-day Oreos do. Dave, I’m thinking that a taste-test is in order…

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  7. Lady Gaga Oreos–HA!!! Good one, Dave! And talk about-down-sizing. Have you seen a Double-Stuff Oreo lately? Nowhere near the filling they used to have. At least that’s my husband’s and my consensus. I’ve never been a fan of that cookie anyway. The filling tasted like overly-sweetened Crisco to me!

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    1. I meant to make that point about the Double-Stuf, Nancy. They used to be just that – double the filling. Now they seem only slightly bigger. I guess we’re far enough removed from the original Oreo to where young consumers weren’t even born, so they can’t even make the comparison. But you and I know 😉

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  8. Dave, they actually have Starbucks prepackaged instant PS Latte (six pouches to a package I believe) and it’s available around Thanksgiving. I got some a few years ago and found it horribly sweet, but then I gave up sweets awhile ago. I don’t call the 92% dark chocolate square I down daily “sweet”. The Chestnut Latte sounds interesting though I’ve never had roasted chestnuts, by a street vendor or otherwise – perhaps I am missing out. I had no idea of the new Oreo flavors. Like you I am a purist, though the last Oreos I tried were for the commemoration of the moon landing in 2019 with a putrid-colored purple cream. I found them overly sweet and back in the day I could down an entire “strip” of Oreos with a glass of milk and never miss a beat, let alone never gain an ounce. 🙂

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    1. In an earlier comment my brother says (Paul) “Newman’s O’s” taste more like the original Oreo than today’s Oreos. Might have to give those a try to see if they bring back the appeal from childhood. I have no interest in an “instant” brand of Starbucks, Linda. I think part of the appeal is limiting Starbucks to an occasional treat, hot and on-the-spot. If I can have it from my pantry it’s entirely too convenient and not prepared by a barista.

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      1. I’ll have to look for Newman’s O’s” for a special treat too Dave. And all Paul Newman’s food proceeds goes to his own charitable fund, a win-win. Yes, I agree, nothing beats the whoosh of the barista preparing your drink and handing it over still frothy and smelling wonderful!

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  9. I’m glad to see that I have some company among your readers when I admit that the annual PS craze is irrelevant to my life. A slice of pumpkin pie is OK, but only when there’s no pecan or lemon meringue on offer.

    It’s been awhile since I had an Oreo. But aren’t they really dark brown instead of black? With my disdain for licorice, I don’t think anyone could have sold me a genuinely black food of any kind when I was a kid.

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    1. I only dabble in the P.S. offerings myself, J P, but the combination of holiday spices does appeal to me this time of year. I’ve been a fan of olives and licorice (and Oreos) since I was a kid. I blame my parents for the first two – they were always in our pantry.

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