Fall has arrived and so has pumpkin spice, with differing opinions on its arrival. Photo by Jordan Fore for The Alabamian.
As the first day of Autumn approaches, many people anticipate the flavors and aromas of things they correlate with the season. Scents commonly linked to this time of year include crisp air, toasted marshmallows, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin, to name a few.
Each aroma tends to run a cycle of popularity among consumers, but none so overwhelmingly as pumpkin spice. Social media is plastered with a mixture of adoration for pumpkin spice and disdain for its overpopulation. It seems we have Starbucks to thank for this.
Each year, Starbucks introduces their pumpkin spice latte toward the end of August and beginning of September. For years, that was the only thing many people could find, besides actual pumpkin pie, to purchase under the label of “pumpkin spice.” As one of the few people in the world who actually enjoys pumpkin pie, I appreciated the simple nod Starbucks gave to the flavor, even if the sauce to make it has the appearance of a melted burnt-orange crayon.
Fast forward a few years to 2015 and Jacob Robertson, a senior at Montevallo, majoring in English, posts on his own Facebook page saying, “I’m gonna cook a pumpkin spiced lasagna, because someone needs to demonstrate the danger of this cultural obsession.”
Robertson’s statement seems dramatic until you walk into nearly any store this time of year. Sprouts grocery store is one of many with a display appealing to pumpkin-obsessed people. The display contains the following in pumpkin flavor: kale chips, sweet potato chips, corn chips, oatmeal, beer, sparkling juice, cheesecake, apple sauce, soup, salad dressing and salsa. In a world where you can’t even find pomegranate flavored sorbet, an arguably normal thing, it seems absurd that someone is making pumpkin flavored corn chips and salsa.
It’s understandable that people want to smell pumpkin sometimes, without baking a pie. Perhaps these people want to trigger fond memories, but when pumpkin scent is everywhere, we begin associating all things with it. And let’s not forget all of the other delicious scents that people link to the most wonderful time of the year. I want to see a study comparing people who buy pumpkin spice everything and people who eat pumpkin pie. Based on holiday affairs I attend, I suspect there would be a strong disconnect.