All popular things come with a backlash sooner or later. Think of Soylent, or the Fat Jew, or Taylor Swift. And the same could be said of pumpkin spice lattes, which—despite the unending fanaticism for the drinkable sugar bombs—were under fire last year for their long list of less-than-"natural" ingredients and general association with "basicness."
One outspoken critic of the almighty pumpkin spice latte: the Food Babe, the pseudo-scientific health-food blogger who has experienced quite the backlash of her own. But in spite of widespread acknowledgement that most of her fear-mongering was baseless, Vani Hari (her real name) has had some victories.
You know what they say: The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And the Food Babe is very squeaky. Earlier this year, Hari succeeded in convincing Kraft to reformulate their classic boxed macaroni and cheese without the use of artificial coloring.
In a post from last year, Hari took on the pumpkin spice latte in a detailed infographic that warned of its caramel coloring, "Monsanto Milk," carrageenan, sugar content, natural flavors, artificial flavors, preservatives and sulfites, pesticide residue, and use of condensed milk, rendering it "NOT VEGAN!" Sound the alarm! Batten down the hatches! Do you mean to say, Food Babe, that everything at Starbucks didn't come straight from the biodynamic farm down the road?!
She also lamented the pumpkin spice latte's notable lack of pumpkin. Never mind that the cozy appeal is in the spices used to flavor pumpkin pie—cloves, cinnamon, cardamom—rather than in the notion of drinking liquified pumpkin pulp. The Food Babe is serious, you guys.
Well, as it undergoes the adolescence brought on by its 12th year of existence, the pumpkin spice latte will graduate to a new plane of existence by integrating actual pumpkin as an ingredient.
In a blog post featured yesterday on Starbucks' corporate website titled "Big News for the Beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte," Director of Espresso and Brewed Coffee Americas (yes, that's an actual position) Peter Dukes announced the shift: "We took another look at this beverage and why we created it so many years ago. It was simple—espresso, perfectly steamed milk, warm fall spices with delicious flavor of pumpkin pie that reminds you of the cool, crisp days of autumn. So, with that great taste you know and love, the PSL returns this fall, and this time it will be made with real pumpkin and without caramel coloring."
And yes, PSL is the official abbreviation. Hari's post was not cited as the impetus for the makeover, though the post does mention "hearing from customers and partners about ingredients." But don't worry: she'll happily take credit for it. And she'll continue to harp on about the natural flavors and mono- and diglycerides that remain in the new formula.
"I still won't be consuming it!" she declares.
That's fine. The rest of us will be downing our PSLs without her, and wondering whether they taste just a little bit funny without all those delicious chemicals.