Why are we so obsessed with PSLs?

Ah yes, it is finally mid-September; the leaves are slowly (but surely) beginning to change color and hey, we have even had a few days cold enough for a sweater in the morning. Fall is on its way, and my friends, that can mean only one thing: we are entering the depths of PSL (pumpkin spice latte, for those of you living under a rock) season. Starbucks’ beloved PSL made its return on September 8th, but diehard fans could gain early access to their ambrosia four days early with a “secret access code.” Guys, seriously, the fact that they have enough demand for this drink to make a “secret access code” is a pretty damn good indicator of how obsessed with these drinks we are, and that’s pretty pathetic.

I feel like before I continue with this article, I should make my stance on PSLs very clear to the reader (if it isn’t already). I think these things are gross and ridiculous. I have never understood how half of our nation is obsessed with these faux lattes that taste akin to a candle you might find on clearance at a mall after the holidays. Every time I have more than a few sips of one I feel like I have this weird chalky feeling on my tongue for several hours from all the weird flavorings they put in there. Also, can we please acknowledge how expensive these things are? $3.75 for the small one? I’m a college student! No thanks.  But to be completely honest, I think what makes me hate them the most is the fact that everyone is so obsessed with them even though they, well, suck.

Starbucks has somehow managed to make their mix of whipped cream, various powders, and milk into a cultural phenomenon. Have you noticed the increase in pumpkin spice flavored products since the surge in the popularity of the beverage? Pumpkin spice cereal, pumpkin spiced beers, pumpkin spice Oreos; these are all real things, people! A picture of a box of pumpkin spice latte-scented tampons and condoms circulated all over the Internet a few months ago. I wasn’t surprised; I believed it and honestly lost a little bit of faith in our nation (thank goodness it was a hoax). PSLs have even attempted to infiltrate the Swarthmore community. Earlier this week I was standing in line at the Sci Center Coffee Bar and noticed that they had added PSLs to the menu as a special item. I’ve honestly never seen anyone ordering one, so I’m hoping that trend will just continue and the staff will get the hint and make them disappear.

Anyway, I do have to take the time to commend Starbucks for their PSL marketing campaign. They somehow managed to create a campaign that was both obnoxiously in your face and clever. As soon as September hit it was impossible to go on any social media site and not see Starbucks’ advertisement about the return of their drink. My personal favorite is the official pumpkin spice latte Twitter account (@TheRealPSL), I admit, it is actually pretty funny and has way more twitter followers than I do.

On a more serious note: have you ever taken the time to ask what is in those various powders? What is that seemingly harmless fall beverage doing to your body? A quick Google search has me seriously believing that these things are partially responsible for the rising diabetes rate in this country.

A venti PSL boasts 64 grams of sugar — that’s 25 more grams of sugar than your average can of Coca Cola. One of my most vivid memories of childhood dentist trips is the dentist showing me what soda did to your teeth; I can’t even imagine the effects sustained PSL usage (yes I’m referring to it as a drug, it has extremely addictive qualities) would have on one’s dental health. Additionally, the high fat content in the drink prevents the caffeine from immediately taking effect; some estimate that it takes up to an hour to begin feeling any effect at all. And that gross feeling in your stomach? That’s because of the high levels of caffeine and sugar, a bad combination that ultimately slows down your metabolism and causes you to keep more of the fat from the drink in, and eventually on, your body. So as tempting as it may be to ask that cute Swattie from your biology section to “pumpkin spice and chill,” do both of your bodies a favor and stick with the Netflix instead.

I just really hope that as a nation we will soon come to our senses and see what a pumpkin spice latte truly is: a disgusting, sugary, and absurdly successful marketing scheme. We’re better than that! Instead, let’s celebrate the coming of fall with other less ridiculous pumpkin-related activities and foods, like pumpkin carving or pumpkin pie — even pumpkin smashing.  If you really need that fall caffeine fix, grab a friend, a cup of coffee, and admire the autumn scenery. Lastly, to those of you who think you will be unable to resist the temptations of the PSL this fall: I believe in you, you can do this.

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