How America Came to Love (& Hate) Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice. You either love it or you hate. Once September rolls around, you’re seeing products left and right with pumpkin spice flavor. Frankly, it’s taking over.
We can argue over who came up with pumpkin spice in the first place, but the story of this prominent seasonal flavor has some long and interesting roots. Truth be told, pumpkin wasn’t always a seasonal treat.
A Brief Tale of The Rise (and Fall) of Pumpkin Spice in the US
When Americans settled in the New World, pumpkin was a common crop. Since it was so easily attainable, settlers considered it a food of last resort and even looked down on those who ate pumpkin. “Pumpkin eater” and “pumpkin roller” were actual derogatory names.
Peter, Peter, pumpkin eater was basically the equivalent of calling someone a basic bitch back then… #CatchTheseHands
But like most things, it took time for people to see its true essence. Sometime during the mid-19th century, pumpkins were re-branded- we’re talking triple threat: paintings, poems, and publications. It became a staple when states started celebrating Thanksgiving and a political prop during the Civil War.
Throw in the invention of cars and people were commuting “far and wide” to their favorite farms for pumpkins. By now, people were like “hey, pumpkins might actually have retail value!” Boy, were they right.
Pumpkin has become autumn's seasonal flavor (and now we know why), but it’s morphed into something unstoppable. With clever marketing, media coverage, and good ol’ nostalgia, it’s no surprise that this craze has become a force.
But if you’re looking for patient zero, you might not be surprised to hear that Starbucks concocted their famous beverage and catapulted pumpkin spice into astronomical seasonal demand.
After test results from the “Liquid Lab” showed market strength, Starbucks launched their pumpkin spice latte and proceeded to earn more than 350 million pumpkin spice dollars since launching.
Now, we're inundated with a seemingly endless list of pumpkin spice products.
Pumpkin Spice Products You Love to Hate
You may or may not have a love-hate relationship with pumpkin spice. If you do, we feel you. Not only is it an invasion of pumpkin spice once October 1st rolls around, but it seems like no product or brand is safe from this seasonal trend.
Have you tried these pumpkin spice foods yet?
- MaxPro Elite pumpkin spice protein powder. You know, in case you couldn’t hit your max reps without a little seasonal flavor.
- Greenies pumpkin spice flavored dog treats. Unfortunately, your dog can’t talk so it can’t actually refuse such nonsense.
- Bigelow pumpkin spice hearty spiced tea. Because chamomile is sooo last season.
- Land O’ Lakes pumpkin spice butter spread. But, why?
- Ghiradeli milk chocolate pumpkin spice. Really, it should be a sin to fuck with chocolate in this way.
Why do we insist on letting these things happen? Two things: nostalgia and exclusivity. If brands can keep you wanting more (i.e. using a flavor that’s special to one season) then consumers wouldn’t get tired of seeing ridiculous items that have no business being pumpkin spice flavored.
You wouldn’t buy pumpkin spice toothpaste if it was sold year-round (making my damn teeth cringe) but if you saw it once a year, you might be more intrigued to try it.
Also, it’s not only about the flavor; it’s about the feeling and it’s relation to Thanksgiving and all the warm, fuzzy feelings we get from it.
Little Known Facts About Pumpkin Spice
- Pumpkin spice is a combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger- if you’re lucky, you might actually get real pumpkin, too.
- Starbucks began serving pumpkin spice latte’s back in 2003.
- Speaking of Starbucks’ PSL, it was only until recently that they added “real pumpkin” to their lattes; but don’t jump for joy yet… it’ still less than 2%.
- Despite pumpkin spice being a seasonal favorite, fresh pumpkin sales have dropped, according to the BBC.
- You can follow pumpkin spice latte year-round @TheRealPSL
So what are your thoughts on pumpkin spice? Is it everything nice? Or just fall torture? Let us know what you have to say. In the meantime, here are a few screenshots of what others think about pumpkin spice.
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