The sun might still be sweltering and some outliers might still be running around in white, but we don't need the axis to align to know it's finally fall, because just after Labor Day, Starbucks unleashes its dearly missed Pumpkin Spice Latte. And once it's unleashed, the town slowly catches Pumpkin Spice Latte fever, and on every street corner and in every pedestrian's hand is the signature Starbucks cup with "PSL" carelessly scribbled on it.
And that's a shame. Because there's a whole lotta seasonally spiced goodness out there to enjoy beyond the Starbucks PSL. We found solid alternatives so rich in pumpkin-spiced flavor, you'll weep pumpkin-flavored tears for having missed out on them for so long.
6. Pumpkin Muffins, Whole Foods Market
Get them while they're hot, because if you wait too long, they'll sell out and you'll be left biting into the pumpkin muffin's infinitely inferior cousin, the cream cheese muffin. Because it fits in your hand like a puzzle piece and is decorated with pumpkin seeds and full of nourishing whole grains, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it. Start hoarding them in your freezer now, since they'll be gone December 1.
5. Pumpkin Pie Bagel, Panera Bread
Leave it to Panera to bagel-tize pumpkin pie. The bagel is baked with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. It's topped with a blend of crumbs and cinnamon for a crunchy texture. It's served warm and toasted and dusted with powdered sugar. It's as close as you can get to justify eating a pumpkin pie for breakfast.
4. Pumpkin Bagel Clusters, Einstein Bros. Bagels
Bagel clusters are a new phenomenon that has struck Einstein's nationwide. No one is entirely sure what they are or where they came from. The concept of adorably sized pumpkin bagel bits, gooey pumpkin syrup, cinnamon sugar, streusel topping, and cream cheese frosting conglomerating in one bouquet of seasonally spiced goodness is not to be missed. Because if you do miss it, you really missed out on the entire fall season.
3. Pumpkin Patch Pancakes, Denny's
To kickstart the holiday season, Denny's unveils its special holiday menu full of turkey dinners and red velvet pancake puppies. With the perfect pumpkin-to-spice ratio, the fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin patch pancakes, topped with cinnamon whipped cream, are the rock stars of the entire menu and really the entire fall season. Call your shrink now, because you will develop abandonment issues when they're unjustly taken away come spring.
2. Pumpkin Pound Cake, Corner Bakery Cafe
Take bite out of a slice of this and it'll crumble in your mouth. It's sweet and rich in pumpkin antioxidants. Since it doesn't have any cream cheese frosting on top, just crunchy nuts and burnt sugar, feel free to order another slice -- it won't be the best thing for your waist band, but you're short of new year's resolutions for next year anyway.
1. Pumpkin Bread, Field of Greens
The casual salad and sandwich café sells its pumpkin bread by the loaf, but trust us, you'll want to stick with the slice or else you'll end up devouring the whole thing in two gulps and spend the day in a dazed carb coma. It's not too dry, and, baked with all the seasonal spices, nothing pairs better with coffee.