Your NPR news source

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

SHARE Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR’s Scott Simon, it did not go well.


The flavor of the month is pumpkin spice already. In addition to Starbucks' famous lattes - which kind of kick-started the trend - there are now pumpkin spice bagels, pumpkin spice gum, a pumpkin spice hamburger. So Hugh Merwin, senior editor at Grub Street, ordered a 63-ounce container of black-market pumpkin spice syrup. And he put it on everything he ate for four days. He joins us now from New York. Thanks so much for being with us.

HUGH MERWIN: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: Still standing?

MERWIN: More or less, yes.

SIMON: It was close, though, wasn't it, having read your posting.

MERWIN: It got a little dicey around day three. And I actually had a couple of pumpkin spice-inspired fever dreams a little.

SIMON: Yeah. Sweating nutmeg, I gather, right?

MERWIN: That happened. People said that they smelled it on me, which was kind of funny because I couldn't pick it up at all.

SIMON: (Laughter) Now, you detail a number of concoctions in what you wrote. Give us - if you could, please, your - perhaps your best and then one of your worst.

MERWIN: The best, surprisingly, was I made almost like a French toast batter with eggs and some half-and-half, and I put the pumpkin spice syrup directly in there. And I made French toast out of that. And I made a sandwich with fried boloney. It had been suggested to me. And it was kind of like this French-Canadian monster sandwich, which was actually really good.

SIMON: Yeah. But what about some of your less successful concoctions though?

MERWIN: You know, I went to the farmer's market, and I got these beautiful, orange-colored acorn squash, which I'd never seen before. But I figured because they look like pumpkins, they'd go well with the pumpkin spice. And I made his beautiful soup that was smooth, creamy. It was airy. And I did like the culinary school sort of zigzag on top - that pattern.

SIMON: Yeah.

MERWIN: And I made it look really nice. And I was eating, and I was like, this is wonderful. This is great. This is fantastic. And then it just sort of hit me that it was - I was just lying to myself. And it was just horrible. It just tasted like garbage.


SIMON: So, you know, we're - even now - you can see beginning to get into the pumpkin season - the visible pumpkin season. I mean, Halloween stuff is out already. I'm just wondering if that sets off some kind of emotional reaction in you?

MERWIN: After this experience?

SIMON: Or visceral reaction, yeah.

MERWIN: I love pumpkins. I love pumpkin seeds I love pumpkin pies. I make a fresh pumpkin pie every year. So I think that I - my pumpkin - my love for pumpkin is intact after this experience.

SIMON: Hugh Merwin, he wrote about pumpkin spicing up his life for New York Magazine's food and restaurant blog, Grub Street. Thanks very much for being with us.

MERWIN: Thank you so much.

SIMON: Oh, and happy Halloween.

MERWIN: Thanks.


SPICE GIRLS: (Singing) Colors of the world, spice up your life. Every boy and every girl, spice up your life. People of the world, spice up your life. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la. La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit


More From This Show