Today is the second day of October, the first month of the year that truly feels like it belongs to autumn. Sure, the temperature begins to drop in September (in some parts of the country, at least), but September is more about squeezing in one last swim, one final beach day in the waning daylight. October is where fall comes out to play, and with the new season comes a new set of flavor profiles. Turn in those crisp berliner weisses and grab yourself a warming barrel-aged stout. Goodbye burgers, hello stew. And of course, please welcome to the stage, pumpkin spice.
So much pumpkin spice.
Too much pumpkin spice some would say. We are living in a world awash with pumpkin spice crap, and while the Pumpkin Spice Latte can be rightly looked at as Patient Zero for the Pumpkin Spiceification of modern life (with the actual pumpkin pie as the neutral control group), the realm of this flavoristic meme has expanded to include every last consumable, sniffable, gluggable, and eatable, in combinations too horrific to imagine.
Enter Cozell Wilson, a Seattle-based musician and the creator of @31daysofpumpkinspice, part of a now-year-long project to catalogue the pumpkin spice movement in its many forms. Over the month of October Wilson will record the highs and lows of the PSLifestyle. Much like the pumpkin spicepocalypse itself, Wilson has not waited until October to begin publishing content. There’s a review of the pumpkin spice açaí bowl from Rush Bowl, which Wilson describes as “so dank.” And if you are looking for pumpkin spice ASMR (featuring aptly flavored Twinkies), there’s a video for that, too.
As perhaps the world's leading expert on all things pumpkin spice, Sprudge Media Network spoke with Wilson to get his feelings on the official flavor of fall, as well as his own paradoxical personal distaste for pumpkin spice (though “a pumpkin loaf hits pretty hard with some coffee,” he tells us, which, where's the lie?) plus much more about what's on deck for the month to come over at @31daysofpumpkinspice.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Hey Cozell! Can you start off by telling us a little bit about 31 Days of Pumpkin Spice?
My YouTube account got monetized [after posting a video that went viral] and last year I started brainstorming funny ideas. A few days before October I landed on eating pumpkin spice for 31 days because it seemed absurd and funny. It wasn't really well received on YouTube, but my friends think it is hilarious. Each video is usually 60 seconds long and I quickly talk about the product then taste it. It ends up being 50/50 that the product hits. Gross products are spat out and products that slap are met with high praise. I try to keep it quick because there is no point in a 35 year old talking about pumpkin spice everyday on the internet for longer than that.
How would you describe your level of pumpkin spice affection and where did it all begin for you?
To be honest I don't really fuck with pumpkin spice that hard. The spices used are all delicious but there are far superior vessels for that flavor, like sweet potato. My family uses a lot of the same seasoning in our sweet potato pie, banana pudding, and peach cobbler recipes.
I always thought pumpkin pie was trash and still do. That being said, I kind of got swindled via pumpkin beer, and a pumpkin loaf hits pretty hard with some coffee.
What makes the perfect pumpkin spice product?
There are a lot of pumpkin spice fakers who could have easily just called their product cinnamon. To the untrained pumpkin spice eater that may fly, but I am often unimpressed by lackluster products for this reason. If you are gonna do it, REALLY do it. Like, don't sell me a roll of pumpkin spice toilet paper and then it just kinda smells like pumpkin. I want the mail person to smell it. That is funny. Be bold and use culinary common sense.
If you can only drink one pumpkin spice latte for the rest of your life, where is it going to be from?
Well my favorite coffee spot is Home Espresso Repair, but I don't think they do it. Second choice would be Vivace served like an iced Cafe Nico latte. They could easily take the orange out and everyone would be like, “yep, that's pumpkin spice.”
How many pumpkin spiced products would you say you've tried?
I'm gonna guess roughly around 65. By the end of October I will be able to say I have tried over 100 and not feel like it is an exaggeration.
What have been some of your favorites?
My friend who works at The Mountaineering Club made me a personal pumpkin pie because he knows I think they are wack. It was easily the best pumpkin pie I have ever had. He had to do some real magic and it seemed like a sweet potato pie, but I was impressed. That Rush Bowl was also a certified slapper. It was fresh, with fruit and honey and shit. So good. I also had this pumpkin spice cream that had rhinestones on the package and left my skin feeling soft AF.
What have been some of your least favorites?
It's a tie between pumpkin spice Beemster cheese that was shipped to me. I think it may have spoiled. That and pumpkin spice eggnog. It was unapologetically thick and spilled all over my windbreaker.
What would you say has been the weirdest pumpkin spicing you've experienced?
When I get into the kitchen and start mixing things together. I just made a video for a pumpkin spice BLTA. I'll drop it soon. Or maybe when I put pumpkin hot sauce on a Popeyes chicken sandwich. But definitely the pumpkin spice ASMR video is the weirdest.