In addition to the rapidly increasing percentage of my income I now funnel into anti-aging skincare products, one of the ways I know I’m getting old is that I find myself irrationally annoyed by seasonally premature shifts in commercial advertising and product marketing. In my younger and less age-conscious years, I welcomed Starbucks’ notoriously early pumpkin spice latte drop with the same enthusiasm expected of any red-blooded basic, while my deeply offended mother could be found saying things like “PUMPKIN already? But it’s AUGUST,” and being personally victimized by the back-to-school commercials that began to interrupt her regularly scheduled summer TV programming mere days after July 4th.
In my younger days, Starbucks’ insistence on annexing the last month of summer for PSL season didn’t bother me much. Did I think the hottest days of the summer were maybe not ideal for downing rich lattes originally designed to be consumed on crisp October mornings while wearing a sweater and boots? Sure. But if I had to go back to school already anyway, what was the point of sweating through the last cruel month of beach days I was forced to spend in a classroom? The end of summer was already being wasted on my education, might as well just grab a PSL and call it fall.
In more recent years, however, I’ve found myself clinging to summer more desperately every year, less willing to swap spritzes for ciders and more annoyed by brands like Starbucks gaslighting me into believing it’s fall when the walk to go pick up my mobile order still leaves me sweating through my clothes. But what is it about aging that makes us more sensitive to these premature seasonal shifts? Why, at the tender age of 24, does the sight of untouched bags of candy corn spilling off the shelves in CVS starting August 1st and and not a day later make my aging skin crawl?
Maybe I’m just fulfilling my generational obligation of becoming my mother. Or maybe it’s because as an adult who no longer gets to enjoy summer vacation, I’m also spared the premature end of summer that going back to school enforces. Because adults never get any summer vacation at all and are simply forced to work all day every day until we die, it feels like we should get to enjoy the last month of summer as god and nature intended, or at least as much as you can enjoy anything when you’re condemned to a lifetime of nearly uninterrupted labor.
Or maybe it’s because the older we get, the more aware we are of our own mortality. Perhaps the real reason old people (and aging Gen Z/Millennial-cusps like myself) become increasingly intolerant of premature seasonal shifts in advertising and coffee flavors is because we know that the changing of the seasons means we are one Reese’s holiday shape closer to death, and we don’t want to escalate that progress by ushering in a new season any earlier than necessary with festive lattes and spooky store displays in August. Rather than an exciting preview of the new season ahead, Starbucks’ ever-earlier annual PSL drop comes as a grim reminder that we are but pumpkin spice dust and to pumpkin spice dust we will return. As aging adults forced to reckon with the terrifying inevitability of the passage of time and the bleak end that ultimately awaits us all, we can’t help but remain aware that every late-August pumpkin spice latte brings us closer to death.
Fortunately for those of us who need a little help drinking the Starbucks pumpkin spice Kool-Aid and accepting that the coffee company is actually the one and only arbiter of the seasons, weather and the Gregorian calendar be damned, the brand has introduced a few new fall beverages to help bridge the late-summer/early-fall transition in recent years. Two years after Starbucks first dropped the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew my colleague Logan Mahan declared the go-to “summer-to-fall transition drink,” the brand has introduced another new beverage seemingly designed to appease those of us who are suckers for seasonal flavors but aren’t ready to acknowledge the fact that we are one PSL season closer to our inevitable demise: the Apple Crisp Macchiato.
The drink feels like a slightly more seasonally appropriate alternative to the classic PSL in these late days of summer/early day of Starbucks Fall, because apple is a flavor that can reasonably be associated with September, while everyone knows pumpkin season doesn’t really start till October (sorry). Anyway, for those of you who foolishly came here looking for actual info on the Starbucks Apple Crisp Macchiato and are still here for some reason, the drink features Starbucks’ new “Apple Brown Sugar Syrup,” a gooey, super sweet blend of faux-apple flavoring and I guess brown sugar, though I got more caramel vibes myself and probably would’ve called it the Caramel Apple Macchiato, if Starbucks had bothered to ask my opinion. It’s available hot or iced, but it’s currently 90 degrees outside because IT’S STILL SUMMER, so you should obviously get it iced. It’s a very sweet and vaguely confusing flavor that I will probably drink almost daily for the rest of the fall — or at least until Starbucks rolls out the Christmas flavors the day after Halloween. Anyway, the Apple Crisp Macchiato is obviously delicious, but that’s not the point. The point is we’re all going to die.
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