For the coffee lover, fall ushers in the best of times: that of the yummy flavored coffees. Rich pumpkin, deep chocolate notes, earthy wafts of cinnamon spice all beckon from grocery store and specialty shop shelves. “Drink Me,” they say. “Drink and be warmed and soothed by my rich, roasted goodness.”
I was pretty stoked to select a bottle of Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer to begin this season of caffeinated revelry.
As I stirred the creamer into my cup of joe, I admired the packaging. A silhouette of cows, tractor and barn on the front hinted at the production facilities used by the manufacturer, Friendly Farms.
Then I turned the bottle around to the ingredients. Apparently, what with the bad economy and all, Farmer Friendly is moonlighting at the local chemical plant.
Here’s the rundown of ingredients in the “cream”:
Water, sugar, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, less than 2% sodium caseinate (A milk derivative*) dipotassium phosphate, disodium phosphate, mono and diglycerides, natural and artificial flavors, cellulose gel, cellulose gum, color added, carrageenan. Not a source of lactose.
And in tiny print at the end: “Contains: Milk.” Really? Where? Oh, you mean the less than 2% milk derivative. I should have known. How many times have my kids come running into the kitchen as I’m removing a batch of warm cookies from the oven and pleaded, “Mom, can we have some cookies and sodium caseinate derivative?” “OK kids,” I’d laughingly say, “but don’t spoil your appetite!”
Rereading the bottle, I see that nowhere does it actually claim to be cream. All it says is “Pumpkin Spice”. The clever packagers know that my brain will infer the cream part, based on the picture on the cover, the shape of the bottle and its placement in the dairy section near other cream-ish products.
*Interesting side note: have you noticed that dairy products now come in bottles that look like Mae West? I read an article that manufacturers have switched to this package because research shows that bottles with a thinner waist are more attractive to buyers. Apparently, we are so stupid that we equate a shapely bottle with a shapelier us.
The front of the bottle advises “Shake well” in little letters. They should print a hazmat warning, instead. If you get an unadulterated swallow of dipotassium phosphate, your head might balloon up like a blowfish.
It wouldn’t be so bad to be putting all these questionable chemicals in my body if it tasted good. After all, we all know we’re taking our lives in our hands when we eat a Twinkie, but we’re willing to take the risk for the sake of the sugary, creamy goodness therein. But this stuff doesn’t even taste like pumpkin. It doesn’t taste like anything, really. It just turns the coffee tan if you put enough in the cup.
I guess if I want real, natural pumpkin flavor in my coffee, I would need to cut open a jack-o-lantern, throw in a pot of java and swish it around. Somehow, that doesn’t appeal.
I threw out the pumpkin spice creamer, a sadder but wiser gal. I’ll be going back to plain, old, real cream. It’s not very exotic, but at least I have a good chance of coming out of that encounter alive.