Food Babe and the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Time for some real talk about a really annoying issue: the Pumpkin Spice Latte, more commonly known as the PSL, from Starbucks.

Last year, the Food Babe and her fan girls caused a big ruckus because there wasn’t any pumpkin in the PSL and there were two doses of caramel coloring which contains the chemical 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI). The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that 4-MEI is a level 2B carcinogenic which means that this chemical is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Do you know what else is a level 2B carcinogen? Freaking coffee. So let’s not split hairs over which possible carcinogens we may be guzzling. 

Well, instead of deciding to purchase coffee elsewhere and leave the rest of the world alone, the Food Babe decides she has to fix the problem for EVERYONE, regardless of the fact that really no one else gave a flying flip about the ingredients in the PSL. To sum it up, I’m sick of this woman and the effects her fear-based marketing and ignorance have on society. Here are four truth bombs about the sigil of fall, the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Disclaimer: I have never tried a PSL however, I don’t believe that I have to try something to determine that the marketing behind it is ridiculous or that the Food Babe is not a reliable source for food information. Furthermore, the nearest Starbucks is about a half hour away and I don’t drink coffee. This post is not about coffee, it’s about common sense and how restaurants have started a very bad habit of catering to a vocal, uneducated minority.

1 – There is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice, more commonly known as “pumpkin pie spice” (I will use these interchangeably for the rest of the post). Don’t believe me? Look on the back of your pumpkin pie spice canister. Don’t have one? Here’s a recipe, endorsed by The Pioneer Woman, for pumpkin pie spice. Thinking that pumpkin is actually in pumpkin pie spice is a common misconception and I have called out several trolls on a recently revived Facebook post that the only ingredients in pumpkin spice are cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves etc. Things that taste like fall. No pumpkin whatsoever. Get off that horse.

a jar of pumpkin pie spice
How do they get the pumpkin in there?!


a jar of pumpkin pie spice
Answer: They don’t. There is zero pumpkin in pumpkin spice

2 – Building off of the first bullet, Starbucks never claimed to have pumpkin in the PSL. Never. Food Babe just assumed that because the word pumpkin was in the product, it should have that ingredient in it. False. Another example: fly spray for livestock. There are no flies in fly spray. Yet another example: key lime pie yogurt? Is there actually key lime pie in a Yoplait key lime pie yogurt. Nope. Grapes in grape soda? Nein. C’mon folks, common sense.

3 – Lattes and other drinks should not contain solids that are not easily converted into a melty-ish liquid. Example: whipped cream on hot chocolate is acceptable because that melts and contributes to the flavor of the drink. Pumpkin doesn’t melt, to my knowledge, and therefore the PSL now contains a random floater of pumpkin. Mmmmm, appetizing.
4 – Plain pumpkin* is not delicious to eat by itself. Anyone who has ever eaten plain ole pumpkin will tell you that it’s not the most flavorful food and that in order to make it palatable for a pie, cookies, cake, bread etc. you need pumpkin pie spice. Reminder, we have already ascertained that there is precisely zero pumpkin in a pumpkin spice container. Adding straight pumpkin does nothing to the flavor of the drink but only momentarily satisfies ignorant food activists such as the Food Babe. A PSL without the pumpkin spice but with pumpkin would taste quite bland, I imagine.

Real product review from my Starbucks loving (anti-Food Babe) PhD friend:The difference in flavor is hard to describe. The PSL is still good but not as good.”

 I am sure there are a lot of folks that are wondering why I care so much about a latte that I have never tried however, the action taken by Starbucks due to fear-based promotion by the Food Babe is a very sad example of the “I don’t like it and neither should you” transition our food supply is experiencing. There is a new wave of activists who have the elitist attitude that if a product doesn’t fit their picture-perfect ideals, then it should be changed or snuffed out of the market. The simple solution to that problem is to buy something else or make your own. However, food elitists like Food Babe feel as though it’s their duty to drag restaurants through the mud and force them to abandon science and FDA-approved ingredients in order to calm a spastic, screaming minority.

Use your heads, my friends!Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

* For my non-US readers, I am referring to the big orange squash that is associated with fall, Thanksgiving and Halloween over here in the U.S. I realize that “pumpkin” means any type of squash in many other countries, but over here in the good ole USA it is specifically reserved for this.