Fall hasn’t even started as my boyfriend and I walk into Giant Food Stores to buy groceries. The usual milk, eggs, cheese, that fancy cream cheese I like… I have to say Philadelphia cream cheese makes a lot of different flavors, however I was not expecting to see pumpkin spice cream cheese. Of course as a subscriber to the PUMPKIN EVERYTHING craze I bought it—cause pumpkin and cream cheese are a match made in heaven. (This is not a product endorsement, but that stuff is fantastic.)
Anyway, fast forward to five minutes later and just as I turn a corner, I see my boyfriend already shaking his head. I then realize that a stack of pumpkin-inspired products are placed perfectly, for all to see. I went nuts. I wanted all of it: the boxes of spice cake, the pumpkin spice tea, the pumpkin coffee, the pumpkin cookie mixes, the pumpkin spice candy corn, pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin. All except for the famous orange vegetable itself.
That wouldn’t be the first strange thing about this shared madness sweeping the western world. And it is mostly in the western world (i.e. America) that we pop our heads out of the ground like gophers, prepared to fight for our spices as soon as the first leaf takes it’s death march in some random New England town. As beloved comedian Ilaza Shlesinger would say, “It’s Fall, motherfuckers. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, [demonic voice] Pumpkin Everything!”
These days you can get anything pumpkin flavored or pumpkin colored, even beauty products, like seriously, people. Beauty products??????? But why? Why has this useless, actually kind of inedible vegetable taken over the world? Because, oddly, pumpkin sells. But not real pumpkin just the idea of it—
First of all, a quick public service announcement. Not to burst your bubble, but the bright orange pumpkin you remember making jack-o-lanterns out of as a child is not the same kind of pumpkin you eat. Believe me I was surprised too when my mom came home one autumn night with this wild long-necked, white, bottom heavy gourd. “This,” she said “is a real pumpkin.” It was a goose necked pumpkin or winter squash that she had plucked from my grandmother’s garden and went on to claim she was baking a pie with. Jack-o-lantern pumpkins do not make good pie or anything really. All they have going for them is their shocking color and relation to the Headless Horseman.
Trying to make your favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte from that kind of veggie would be a travesty. No one would buy Starbuck’s infamous Fall staple that is the PSL. You can’t have Fall without Pumpkin Spice Lattes these days. You have to have your cable knit sweater, sitting on the couch, watching Netflix or reading that awesome new Rainbow Rowell book, with, most importantly, coffee in hand. This leads me to the next issue: Starbucks.
Starbucks is the company that started it all, broke the mold that allowed corporations to cash out on crazy knock-offs of the age old “Fall.” What happened to good old Halloween? Dressing up as 70s hippie instead of coffee addicted college student. I mean, Starbucks basically invented seasonal foods, or at least exceeded in capitalizing on it, but for it to have seeped so far into our culture is…an admirable feat.
Fun Fact: Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, which was introduced in 2003, didn’t have any actual pumpkin in it until eleven years later.
While I’ve never really fancied the whole coffee thing, I do love the phenomenon of pumpkin products that’s been adopted. Fortunately or not, #pumpkinspicelife has become the creed of fall fangirls everywhere, and you can blame the monster that is Starbucks and the Latte that started it all.