It’s here again. The first day of Fall is still more than a week away but it’s iconic symbol has already arrived. The Pumpkin Spice Latte, Starbucks’ signature fall drink, has arrived and I’m here to continue to express my defense of pumpkin latte.
A few years ago a post by a food blogger went viral, conveniently, at the same time Starbucks started selling their seasonal drink – the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Friends of mine who do not even read healthy living blogs were commenting about it and asking for my thoughts. The blogger’s post was reported on by USA Today and other media outlets. It was a social media storm.
A year later, in 2015, Starbucks changed the recipe for their Pumpkin Spice Sauce which has been used since 2003 to make the signature drink. The sauce now contains pumpkin. I really don’t care either way. The sauce tastes the same to me now as it did prior to the pumpkin addition and I continue to enjoy and offer a defense of Pumpkin Spice Latte.
After the food blog debacle, Pumpkin Spice Latte-loving Starbucks customers continued to buy their drinks as usual. I usually order the drink a few times a season, although I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “fangirl” of the drink. I read the blogger’s post, the USA Today report, the social media tweets and comments. Today I’m drinking an iced Pumpkin Spice Latte, and enjoying each sip, questionable ingredients and all.
My primary issue with the Pumpkin Spice Latte debacle is the drink is called “Pumpkin Spice Latte” not “Pumpkin Latte.” As far as I know, Starbucks never claimed to use pumpkin in the drink so to attack the company on something it never advertised is unfounded. Additionally, while I try to eat healthy, whole foods – I don’t live my life in panic and fear.
- Questionable caramel ingredient in your latte? Don’t drink it.
- Charred burger on the grill? Don’t eat it.
- Inhaling exhaust from car driving by. Wait… don’t don’t breathe.
- Free shampoo in your hotel room? Don’t wash with it.
- And while we’re at it, you don’t know how that hotel water was filtered or where it came from so…. just don’t bathe.
For many people the food blogger who “exposed” Starbucks was heralded as an investigative reporter and an advocate for all of us. Really, she’s just a woman with no formal industry training who likes to pick apart every food and company on the planet. I came across her blog years ago. There have been several mainstream media reports about her. I’ll let those reports speak for themselves.
Lastly, do I believe in transparency? Of course. If the ingredients in this Starbucks drink were not listed publicly, as claimed, then yes, I believe the company could have done better. They should list their ingredients. I do value having ingredient lists available on everything from fast food menus to labels on boxed goods. I also strongly value having calorie counts available for these same foods.
I’m not advocating corruption in the food industry. But I’m not also going to advocate to believe every word an untrained professional posts on her blog. I am advocating we all have choices. And they are OUR choices. Last time I checked we have known about the connection between smoking cigarettes and cancer for 50+ years but I still see people smoking every day. Today my choice is to drink this latte.
*This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.