I know people who mark the passing of the seasons by Starbucks' seasonal lattes, and I am very much not joking about this. Fall has officially arrived when the coffee chain starts carrying Pumpkin Spice-flavored lattes. Winter is here when the Peppermint Mochas arrive. It's become a cycle as constant as the North Star.
Except when there are national Pumpkin Spice latte shortages and the nation loses its collective mind. At least, that's what the Huffington Post would have us believe.
"That's it, folks," wrote Cavan Sieczkowski in the Post last week. "Fall might very well be ruined." Why? Because the venerable Wall Street Journal reported on a shortage of Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks across the nation "due to high demand after the drink's Sept. 4 release."
Although I'm pretty sure that even my Gingerbread latte-loving friends wouldn't have their fall entirely "ruined" by this news, I did wonder if Houston was perhaps insulated from this national trend. I certainly haven't seen any wailing, torturous posts about it on Facebook or Twitter. (And I'm friends with people on Facebook who post graphic photos of their babies pooping, so I would know.)
It turns out that Houston has been buffeted from these apparent nationwide shortages, in much the same way that our economy has been largely insulated from the national recession. Boo-yah, rest of the United States. Come to Houston for the jobs, stay for the unlimited Pumpkin Spice lattes.
I talked to an employee at my local Starbucks while waiting for a Pumpkin Spice latte of my very own yesterday morning, who said that no shortages had been reported in Houston.
"We try to keep it in stock until at least February," he said, chuckling at what he perceived to be my own personal panic over a potential shortage.
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"Of course," he continued, "there are occasionally shortages. And we don't know until we don't receive our weekly shipment that there's not going to be any." This had never happened with the Pumpkin Spice to the best of his knowledge, however.
I celebrated Houston's Pumpkin Spice victory with a slice of pumpkin loaf to accompany my latte. Verdict: The latte was far too sweet, as always. And calling anything a "loaf" automatically takes it down a peg or two on the "sounds delicious" scale, but the slice of soft pumpkin bread was as good (and as pumpkiny) as ever.