The Greatest Pumpkin Spice Latte Moments in Literature

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

Editor's Note: We're bringing back one of our best loved pumpkin-y posts. Read on, friends, with a Pumpkin Spice Latte in hand. 

When it comes harbingers of fall, the pureed-squash coffee cocktail known as the Pumpkin Spice Latte looms large. Somewhere around the autumnal equinox, Pumpkin Spice hysteria settles over the nation like a miasma, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Lines stretch around corners. Bank accounts are liquidated. Pumpkin-deprived consumers sprawl in the gutter, eyes dull and devoid of spiciness.

But the cult of this artificially-flavored hot beverage is far from a modern phenomenon. Writers through time immemorial have devoted countless words of pen and page to this wondrous drinkstuff. The PSL has inspired more beauty, mystery, and whimsy in the world of literature than absinthe, opium, and upper-downer goofballs combined. Behold:

The Odyssey

I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of 9 days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Pumpkin-Spice-Latte Drinkers, who live on a beverage that comes from a kind of gourd. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Pumpkin-Spice-Latte Drinkers, who did them no hurt, but gave them to drink of the Latte, which was so delicious that those who drink of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and gulping Lattes with the Latte-Drinkers without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars.


Alice in Wonderland

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having Pumpkin Spice Lattes at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and the talking over its head. “Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,” thought Alice; “only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind.”

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: “No room! No room!” they cried out when they saw Alice coming. “There's PLENTY of room!” said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

“Have some wine,” the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but Pumpkin Spice Lattes. “I don't see any wine,” she remarked.

“There isn't any,” said the March Hare.

“Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,” said Alice angrily.

“It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,” said the March Hare.


In Search of Lost Time

“Many years had elapsed during which nothing of Combray, save what was comprised in the theatre and the drama of my going to bed there, had any existence for me, when one day in winter, on my return home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me a Pumpkin Spice Latte, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent for one of those squat, plump little cakes called "petites madeleines," which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell. And soon, mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the Pumpkin Spice Latte in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory—this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy? I sensed that it was connected with the taste of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the cake, but that it infinitely transcended those savours, could, no, indeed, be of the same nature. Whence did it come? What did it mean? How could I seize and apprehend it?”



“—The blessings of God on you! Buck Mulligan cried, jumping up from his chair. Sit down. Pour out the Pumpkin Spice Lattes there. The sugar is in the bag. Here, I can't go fumbling at the damned eggs.

He hacked through the fry on the dish and slapped it out on three plates, saying:

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.

Haines sat down to pour out the lattes.

—I'm giving you two lumps each, he said. But, I say, Mulligan, you do make strong Pumpkin Spice Lattes, don't you?

Buck Mulligan, hewing thick slices from the loaf, said in an old woman's wheedling voice:

—When I makes Pumpkin Spice Lattes I makes Pumpkin Spice Lattes, as old mother Grogan said. And when I makes water I makes water.

—By Jove, it is a Pumpkin Spice Latte, Haines said.”


Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the Pumpkin Spice Lattes began to take hold […] There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a Pumpkin Spice Latte binge. And I knew we'd get into that rotten stuff pretty soon.

Blair Thornburgh

Blair Thornburgh

BLAIR THORNBURGH is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in medieval studies and delivered a pretty good commencement speech. She lives in Philadelphia.