Spice Girl

I’m just a girl, standing in the grocery store Labor Day weekend, wondering why all my normal foods now have pumpkin spice.

And it’s not just the grocery store; it’s everywhere. Coffee, candles, creamer, cookies, cream cheese and all manner of craziness. Here is a news flash: For decades we all survived autumn just fine without a proliferation of pumpkin.

This gourd is driving me out of my gourd. Because if you don’t like pumpkin spice, you are out of luck from August until at least Christmas when gingerbread is headed down the same slippery slope. Can’t we just declare chocolate as the flavor for the entire year and call it a day?

Or BACON, I mean if we are favoring flavors, bacon simply cannot be ignored.

Pumpkin definitely has its place—which is on my porch with a toothy grin and hollowed out insides. And that’s because pumpkin does not taste good. What consumers are enjoying is actually a mixture of all the spices that punch up pumpkin to make it palatable. It’s a bait and switch. People think they love pumpkin, but what they are getting may not have pumpkin in it at all.

I have been content to blame the pumpkin craze on Starbucks. However, in my research I found that small coffee shops had been serving pumpkin spice latte for years before the coffee giant caught on. A Colorado coffee genius discovered that pumpkin was appetizing if you completely disguised it with spices like cinnamon, sugar and allspice, frothed it up and added whipped cream. Starbucks introduced their Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2004, and according to Nation’s Restaurant News, sales increased by 11 percent. That kind of money will make you want to slap a little pumpkin on everything.

And that, folks, is how a craze was born.

But what if I’m not so crazy about saying goodbye to summer in mid-August when pumpkin spice steamrolled Labor Day?

Each year, the pumpkin spice calendar slides a little closer to my beach time. It’s just like the Halloween candy that pops up in July. Although, admittedly, I don’t mind the candy as much because, well, chocolate.

So, I have concluded that pumpkin spice is a metaphor for modern life. And as is the case these days, we are in a hurry. We want our pumpkin spice and we want it now. But all the reasons we love it are fundamentally old-fashioned.

Pumpkin spice is family around the table at Thanksgiving and the hues of fallen leaves in the afternoon sun. It doesn’t make me like pumpkin spice any better, but I see the appeal. We as a society crave the old-fashioned, warm, homey feelings that pumpkin spice evokes—even if we are drinking it from bio-degradable cups ordered on our mobile app.

But how about we slow the pumpkin roll and let each season have its rightful due. (I know there is a song about this, but I will refrain.)

I’m just a girl standing in the store on Labor Day wondering why we can’t be content enjoying the moment without wishing for the next thing to spice it up.