There are plenty of warning signs that your child is learning about pumpkin spice on the street. Obviously, finding spare pumpkin spice containers around the house and in the trash is a dead giveaway. The average household needs one 1.12oz container of McCormick pumpkin spice PER CALENDAR YEAR. This is more than any family needs in a year, so if you’re finding multiple empty containers, you should be concerned.

Pumpkin Spice

You should also look for individual empty or partially-empty containers of pumpkin spice’s ingredients. If you find ground cloves in your child’s backpack, you can be sure that with a little digging, you will also find cinnamon and ginger nearby. Likewise, if you find a glass bowl in your child’s room with cinnamon sticks and nutmeg seeds in it — and they insist that it’s for the aroma — you should immediately look for a fine grater or grinder nearby that might be used to convert the whole ingredients to powders which when mixed will become pumpkin spice.

You should also look for dark orange food items stashed in the back of the refrigerator and cabinets that are not usually dark orange, especially if they look as if they’ve been dusted with something. These items may be homemade or store-bought. Some difficult foods that might contain pumpkin spice but because of their original color, may not immediately stand out to you: enchiladas, Buffalo wings, the delicious burnt edges of macaroni and cheese, and “leftover” orange chicken.

Pumpkin Spice

You should know the street names for pumpkin spice. Slang terms and cellphone “codes” for it include: pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie spice, PS, PPS, P-spice, “dat PS lyfe”, pmpk1n sp1c3 and decorative gourd seasoning.

If you see any of these signs and think that your child might be experimenting with pumpkin spice, please immediately drive to the nearest Starbucks and order a Venti Strawberries and Crème frappucino.

We’re all parents here and it takes a village to raise our kids. You and I know the precarious balance of pumpkin spice that we walk every year, and teaching our kids moderation and thoughtful culinary choices will keep them safe.

Pumpkin Spice

Don’t let your kids learn this on the street.