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Violence and unrest linked to scarcity of seasonal seasoning

Photo: Rémi Yuan, edits by Marta Kierkus

Pumpkin spice related debauchery has hit record levels at the University of Ottawa. Over the last couple of weeks, students suffering from pumpkin spice withdrawal have been lining the streets with their sickly bodies while black market dealers and traffickers are engaged in an ongoing turf war that threatens to tear the community apart.

Much of the violence and unrest is directly linked to the widespread pumpkin spice shortage currently sweeping across North America. Experts say the situation is even more dire than the Great Seattle Pumpkin Spice Shortage of 2012, the most turbulent event to befall the city since the 1999 World Trade Organization protests.

The same kind of civil dissent began here in Ottawa two weeks ago, when the Starbucks located in the Desmarais building was trashed by an angry mob after it was announced they would no longer be serving pumpkin spice lattes.

“I don’t know what came over me,” said Deidre McManus, a second-year sociology student credited for instigating the riot. “After the barista told me they were all out of pumpkin spice lattes, I just blacked out. The next thing I knew, things were on fire.”

The event sent a ripple effect throughout the campus, resulting in widespread unrest and chaos.

Now thousands of students—who usually depend on pumpkin spice cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, soy sauce, lip balm, popcorn, and whiskey to get them through their midterms—are subject to chronic withdrawal symptoms that make everyday activities nearly impossible.

Most reports state that pumpkin spice withdrawal results in uncontrollable shaking, nausea, and seasonal depression.

“Our rooms are jam packed with patients and our staff is severely overworked,” said Dr. Shanaya Wei, chief physician at the Ottawa Hospital. “Right now, our job is to gradually wean these young people off pumpkin spice with a butternut squash-based alternative. Without this strategy, they will surely succumb to chronic bouts of incurable delirium.”

She later added: “The current pumpkin spice shortage is undoubtedly the biggest international health crisis of 2014.”

The noticeable lack of pumpkin spice and related products has also led to the rise of black market dealers and traffickers, who have hoarded local stashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and allspice to become the only suppliers of seasonal flavouring on campus.

Although the trade started out peacefully, it has quickly degenerated into senseless violence, resulting in at least 16 different stabbing incidents. One of the most high-profile perpetrators is Oliver Orange, a former high school home economics teacher who has become the self-described kingpin of the illegal pumpkin spice trade in Ottawa.

“Right now, I’m just fulfilling supply for an overwhelming demand,” Orange told the Tomato over the phone. “These students desperately want a taste of fall and I’m going to give it to them, one way or another.”

Since local hospitals are overwhelmed and police enforcement is stretched thin, people are holding out hope that the change of seasonal tastes will help bring an end to this depravity.

“Before winter rolls around, our first priority is to make sure that eggnog-flavoured food and drinks are fully stocked on campus,” said U of O president Allan Rock. “If we fail in this task, then God help us all.”