Year: 2014

My Sprinkle-Free Answer to the Holiday-Themed Coffee Brew-Ha-Ha

  Some like to deck the halls—while others prefer their coffee candy-free. By now, anyone who navigates social media with some regularity would be remiss not to have noticed the trend that won’t end—the Pumpkin-Spice-in-everything phenomenon and the combination of meme-making ridicule and superlative fan shout-outs rendering the flavour du jour a broken record. Fret not your weary ears; it would seem Big Box Barista-ville has heard Twitter and company loud and clear. Popular coffee brands have untapped the yet-to-be ubiquitous Christmas market with the unveiling of both new and tried-and-true hot, artificially flavoured beverages. Candy cane, eggnog and peppermint lattes have been around a few seasons but haven’t seemed to garner the same attention befitting their fall-flavoured counterparts. That’s about to change with one shop’s newest holiday drink, the Chestnut and Praline Latte (I’m not even sure what a praline is – let alone how to pronounce the ‘a’ – but I suspect it’s a type of nut). I’m also guessing the newly revealed beverage is yet another of the syrupy and sweet, best- …

Vintage Fridge: Sometimes hoarding the old beats trading up.

In 1958 my grandfather built a clapboard cornflower blue cottage in Kannata Valley, Saskatchewan. It’s since passed down through three generations. Parts of its charm are the many retro trappings that still exist in all their 56-year-old Value Village-esque glory. From the sea-foam green plastic curtains, to a red manual can opener fastened to the cedar plank kitchen wall, to a tank of a white Frigidaire refrigerator that sits like a beast beside the cabin door. (I’m told it’s one of the oldest models in the country.) A chug-chug-hum-and-sputter one that still works and which faithfully, each summer, cools our family’s cans of pop, pilsner and popsicles. But truth be told, it’s a darn good thing we only use it in the summertime (for nostalgic purposes paying homage to our “Papa” who put it there eons earlier). Refrigerators are one of the highest energy suckers you can keep at home. Can you imagine the cost to your wallet to store such a behemoth, let alone operate it on a daily basis? Glad we still get …

Maclean’s magazine, Oct. 2014

Have We Reached Peak Pumpkin Spice? The pumpkin-spice backlash has spawned its own bona fide cultural industry. Is it too much of a gourd thing? Just over a decade ago, a Starbucks barista pumped the first squirt of pumpkin-flavoured syrup into a cup of coffee, topped it with steaming milk and a dollop of whipped cream. And, with that, the coffee giant birthed not only a product, the pumpkin-spice latte—or “#PSL,” as Twitter calls it—but also a commercial and cultural force. Its market effect has been evident for a few years: The chain’s rivals have their own spins on the creation: Tim Hortons has a pumpkin-pie latte; Second Cup a version of the original. The flavour du jour has branched out into a fleet of products: pumpkin-spice hummus, Oreos, M&Ms, Pringles, even Purina dog treats. The PSL is synonymous with fall. “People wait for it; they expect it,” says Vanda Provato, vice-president of marketing at Second Cup. “We got calls in early August with customers asking when it’s going to arrive.” No surprise, then, that …