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psl

It’s that time of year again. One day, everyone’s out sunbathing on Alexander Beach; the next, it’s scarves, sweaters and a whole lot of crimson.

And then, just as you begin to despair that your gorgeous woollen jumper was eaten alive by a hoard of angry moths over summer, the email arrives. I mean, sure, you’ve had good emails before – your college acceptance letter; your holiday tickets; an exceptional study break – but none really reach the top tier quite like this one. You see the sender – Starbucks. Another bit of happy hour spam, you think. On a whim, however, you decide not to delete straight away, but read the subject line. And, then, it hits you. You’re shrieking. To an onlooker, this hullabaloo looks entirely bizarre. But, to you, you know this is the best email of the entire season. Because, after a long ten months, it’s finally here – it’s pumpkin spice latte time.

So, in the ultimate act of journalistic endeavour (and to test the boundaries of human-pumpkin fusion), I hit the Orange Bubble’s favourite fall spots. 

1) Starbucks

I began, as one must, with the spiritual home of pumpkin appropriation – Starbucks. And, despite the little-known fact that I am in fact a Starbucks member on three continents (and gold on two), this was only my second time of giving into my rapidly developing basic girl stereotype and indulging myself in the ‘nectar of the gods’ (as one friend described it): PSL. 

I am informed that this is one of Starbuck’s strongest drinks in terms of caffeine content, so provided a good way to smash through a Pset. Incidentally, a grande also has 40 percent of your daily recommended saturated fat intake, 10 percent of your daily sodium intake, and four entire tablespoons of sugar. But who needs a beach body in the fall? I balked at the price - $5.93! – but its flavor was simply scrumptious. The last time I had a PSL was before they changed over to using real pumpkin. Once you realise that substitutes just don’t do it, you’ll never go back. 

A solid 9/10, if not for the fact that I’m poor again now.

2) Dunkin’

Off to our next spot. It was with sadness, however, that the newly rebranded Dunkin’ thought they could get away with something that tasted about a hundred times as sweet, but twice as fake. It was a bit too syrupy for my liking, but came in at almost $2 cheaper. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I adore cinnamon and cloves as much as the next person, but this was just a little bit too much. 

5/10.

3) Small World

Thank heavens, though, for Small World. Foraying the milk this time, I had a dose of their pumpkin spice syrup in a black coffee and it rocked my world. It wasn’t quite as astronomically expensive as Starbucks – I love hot beverages, but I’m a student – and it was made from proper ingredients here in Princeton. Supporting local businesses, staying warm and enjoying some reasonably natural flavouring to your reasonably cheap coffee? I’ll drink to that. 

10/10.

4) Cargot 

Back on the home stretch, I called into Cargot to pick up a snack on the way back to studying. My tolerance for pumpkin-based goods was waning, to say the least, and I was practically shaking from caffeine consumption on the way back home. Their new pumpkin muffin, however, was calling at me from the countertop. ‘What’s another bit of pumpkin going to do at this point?’ I thought. The answer, as I later found out, was a lot. And, although I have unlimited appetite for cake, my appetite for pumpkin does in fact have a limit. The muffin itself was sensational – soft and moist, without being too overbearing on the fall front. 

9/10.

5) Wa

The next and final stop on my fall tour was the Wa. By this point, I think I’d had enough of pumpkins to last me another decade, if not longer. I was hoping for something really special to finish off my extravaganza. I was, however, sadly disappointed. Even though their take on the PSL was topped with mountains of whipped cream and syrup, I was done by this point. No more pumpkin for me, and especially no more of this fake stuff. 

4/10.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to take a serious caffeine and sugar low nap….

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