We need to talk. Things got a little bizarre during the unicorn-food craze, but this pumpkin-spice obsession is downright frightening. Operators need to shelve the nutmeg and cage the abominations they’ve loosed in a senseless stab at capitalizing on the trend. A pumpkin spice pizza? Really?
Here’s a look at some of the over-the-top concoctions restaurants are pushing to share in the buzz Starbucks stirs up every fall.
Forget pepperoni and extra cheese
Why mess with discounts when you can pack the house with the lure of a pumpkin spice pizza? That’s why a scent of cinnamon has been wafting from the ovens of 250-unit Villa Italian Kitchen. The New Jersey-based chain says it’s the first pizza maker to feature such a pie.
That claim to fame wasn’t missed by late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who blasted Villa on the air. He conjured up a scenario where a young child wanders into a Villa Italian Kitchen for her first taste of pizza and tragically orders the pumpkin spice pie. Thinking that’s what all pizza is like, her life would be ruined, Kimmel asserted.
He urged his audience to contact their elected officials and push to ban the abomination.
Pumpkin meets Oktoberfest?
Convenience stores’ encroachment on quick-service restaurants’ turf may have been set back by the promotional item being flogged by the QuikTrip retail chain. For a (thankfully) limited time, the c-store powerhouse is featuring a Bavarian-style pretzel stuffed with pumpkin flavoring and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
A dipping sauce is served on the side.
The Pumpkin Pretzel is one of seven pumpkin-flavored items QuikTrip is promoting this fall.
Pumpkin spice with a kick
The bar hasn’t been shielded from the pumpkin craze. Witness the #SoBasic Martini on the mixology menu of the Houlihan’s casual-dining chain. Vanilla-flavored vodka is mixed with pumpkin puree and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, among other flavorings, to yield a drink for the season.
Tony Roma’s new fall menu also lists a pumpkin-inspired libation. The Pumpkin Romatini combines vodka, amaretto and pumpkin puree.
A Mexican twist
The Taco John’s quick-service Tex-Mex chain readily acknowledges that it didn’t want to sit out the pumpkin craze.
“It seems like pumpkins are everywhere this time of year, but we wanted to give our guests something truly creative—and craveably delicious,” Tom Meyer, VP of marketing, declared in a statement.
The result: The Pumpkin Churro, a cream-filled version of the Mexican baked treat that’s flavored with pumpkin puree and rolled in a cinnamon and sugar mix.
The chain acknowledges that the dessert might sound a little strange, but assures patrons they have to try it before they blast it.