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When The Prompt asked me to try a 30-day “Pumpkin Spice Latte” diet (similar to Morgan Spurlock’s solely McDonald’s regimen in “Supersize Me”), I was nonplussed. But anything for journalism!

For the past 30 days, I have drunk only Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (or PSLs once you get to know them). These are my daily dispatches:

Day 1:

My first sips of a PSL this year! Uncoffee enough for a not-coffee drinker like myself. Spicy notes from the nutmeg, and I believe, ginger, and sweetness from the whipped cream, mask the bitterness of the coffee. Is this the perfect flavor profile that has made the frothy seasonal drink so damn popular?

Like Will Ferrell says in Old School, “Fill it up again! Once it hits your lips, it’s so good.” See you tomorrow, you beautiful disaffected baristas!

Day 2:

Day two is in the books and if possible, I liked my PSL even more today. I can’t tell what I love the most, though the creaminess is what comes to mind first.

This is like having a liquified cup of my mom’s pumpkin bread every morning. Highest of high compliments to Starbucks. It’s part nostalgia, a pinch of homesickness, mixed with youthful exuberance, and topped with a optimism.

Day 3:

Back for day three! One of the baristas smiled and said, “Hey! You’re the guy from yesterday!” Then I said, “Actually, I am the guy from yesterday and yesterday’s yesterday,” and everyone laughed. These are my people!

Day 4:

Seems like a good day to find out what exactly is in these delightful PSLs. The Starbucks website lists ingredients, including: milk, espresso, whipped cream—and the moneymaker—pumpkin spice sauce. With some pumpkin spice on top too.

So what is in pumpkin spice, according to Starbucks? Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. I thought it was more complex before my journey began, but I am also glad to know it doesn’t take much to compose such a splendid creation. Starbucks really knows how to honor the ingredients and keep it simple.

Day 5:

Today was the day that I explained my project to the baristas. Seemed like I should. We decided we’re doing this as a team. They promised to make the best PSLs they can, but I think a PSL is like sex and pizza (separately); there is no such thing as a bad one.

Day 6:

It’s the freakin’ weekend baby, and I’m about to have cinn-a-mon! The Saturday staff at Starbucks is brand new and they make a different PSL. It’s spicier! And not as thick. But still a cup of piping hot goodness to warm the belly and the soul. I’m a fifth of the way through and I’m still enjoying this!

Day 7:

I went to a Trader Joe’s today after my PSL and boy do they have pumpkin spice fever, too! Check out my shopping basket!

Day 8:

I figured today would be just another great start to the day. Pleasantries with my new friends on the weekday staff, a delicious PSL, when boom… Danielle the barista called my order out before I gave it. GUYS, I AM A GUY WHO HAS “A REGULAR”!!!!! #lifegoals #squadgoals #PSLife #blessed

Day 9:

Someone at work suggested I look into making my own PSLs and not patronize a mega-corporation like Starbucks. I reminded her that we work for the federal government and to relax.

Could I make a PSL at home? Sure. Would it taste even close to as delicious as the ones at Starbucks? Absolutely not. I should have asked her if she makes her own clothes.

Day 10:

I know I am going to sound a bit like a sell out here, but God bless Starbucks.

Day 11:


Day 12:

Danielle the barista spelled my name wrong. This has to be a flirtatious move, right? Of everyone at the Fairview Stabucks, Danielle is always the one seems to be filling my order, reminding me when she gives me an extra pump of syrup, or upgrading me to Venti.

I am starting to wonder if she would go out with me. She clearly knows I have great taste and am a man of the moment!

On the other hand women always say spontaneity is sexy, and I am not demonstrating any of that.

Day 13:

Still questioning if I should ask out Danielle the barista. Not questioning my devotion to this PSL movement.

Day 14:

I wonder if I’ll want to drink PSLs for the rest of the year. Like probably not on day 31 but after taking a few days off, I could see getting back on the PSL train. The thing with eating challenges is you have to go after something that you like, but not love, because you don’t want to disavow it afterwards. I’d like to think I’m a strong enough person to take a moderate break and then go back to being me.

Day 15:

Whooooooooa I’m halfway there. Ohhhhh-OH! living on a prayer! Sidenote, I think a Bon Jovi acoustic album would make a great Starbucks playlist.

Day 16:

Danielle the barista does not want to go out with me. How do I know? I asked! She apparently has a boyfriend and says she only wants to be friends. I got reverse Biz Markie-d.

Day 17:

So Danielle doesn’t like me like me. So my diet hasn’t been conducive to the traditional definition of fitness. So my sleep schedule has been inconsistent. One of my big mantras is to never get complacent in life. I am not going to let these PSLs define me. Tomorrow may be day 18, but it’s day 1 in the rest of my journey!

Day 18:

I found out today that Starbucks has a really great rewards system. PSL mug half full, I’ll get some free PSLs. PSL mug half empty, I feel like they should have definitely clued me into this two weeks ago. Even though I feel pretty burnt by the Fairview Starbucks staff, I haven’t been this excited about accumulating drink credits since I traded in my Pepsi Points for a CD case.

Day 19:

Ernestine, the lady who sits at the front desk in my office building noticed I’ve doubled my Starbucks intake. She called me Mr. Double Fister. HEYO!

Day 20:

I’d been getting cocky and going back to Starbucks at night for a “dessert” PSL, but I’ve given that up. I had to stop drinking in the evenings altogether. On the plus side, one less interaction a day with Danielle is probably a good thing. I’m really glad we’ve found a way to stay friends.

Day 21:

I scorched my tongue today. This was a bad idea. Why didn’t I just volunteer to take over Hot Takes Tuesday ?

Day 22:

Today I realized it should really be Pumpkin SpiceD Latte since really it’s a latte that is flavored with pumpkin spice but apparently the head honcos at Starbucks think that a noun is more important than a verb but did they even stop to think that nouns are just the pithy subjects to be verbed all around? They probably didn’t.

Day 23:

I think my teeth are becoming pumpkin-spiceD. They don’t have a lot of sensation. Also I’m starting to sense that my breath has been overrun by the spices. My boss hasn’t come to my cube in a week and only addresses me from across the office. The burnt tongue from day 21 still hasn’t healed. My mouth is a cornucopia of pumpkin spiceD.

Day 24:

Feels like I’m in pumpkin spiceD prison and Danielle the barista is the warden.

Day 25:

30 days has September, which is good because I can’t drink many more of these godforsaken autumnal cordials. PSL? More like P-S-hell.

Day 26:

I told Danielle the barista I hated her! I wasn’t expecting to do that and I wasn’t even thinking that, but it just came out. I was invited to use another Starbucks tomorrow morning!

I felt bad about it while walking to the office, but then drank my 98th PSL (I’ve been accidentally counting with a Sharpie on a whiteboard. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and immediately told Ernestine at the front desk that I hated her too! I certainly don’t hate Ernestine, but at least she laughed it off. I think she laughed it off. Did she laugh it off?

Then I thought “They have security cameras in the lobby, maybe I can find a way into the security room and review the tape. Davon might let me in for a quick peek.”

The problem is that Davon is a very good security guard and kept me out of the tapes. Davon was not susceptible to bribes or tears. I offered to write a strong letter of commendation for Davon, pointing out that he was very trustworthy and could not be influenced by bribes or tears. Then told him I’d shred the letter if he didn’t let me see the tapes.

I was escorted out of the building. Is this how Hunter S. Thompson worked?

Day 27:

Today is a fresh start and appropriately, I tried a new Starbucks today! The PSL tastes the same though, which provides a cloying amount of regret. I also didn’t go into work. Laying low might be the best thing for me for the rest of the month.

Day 28:

Do they make pumpkin spiceD enemas? Do they make pumpkin spiceD chloroform? Fuck Starbucks.

Day 29:

Fuck Starbucks.

Day 30:

This feels like a graduation day. Or some kind of emancipation. Maybe a dishonorable discharge. I am not the person I was 30 days ago. I am filled with processed sugar, caffeine, rejection, sadness, potassium sorbate, anger, self-doubt, and cavities.

I didn’t lose my job but I blew through my vacation days and earned myself a meeting with human resources next week. I am repulsed by cinnamon, the color orange, Halloween, and autumn, but mostly myself. And while it’s easy enough to avoid PSLs for a while, I can’t get away from me.

Before I find a padded room to go sit in, I just need to know to whom I should send these Starbucks receipts for reimbursement.


Josh Bard

Josh Bard is a guy. A sports guy, an ideas guy, a wise guy, a funny guy, a Boston guy, and sometimes THAT guy. Never been a Guy Fieri guy, though.

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