What’s the Hype with Pumpkin Spice?

By Mackenzie Pedersen, Staff Writer

Image Courtesy of Tastin’ Jamaican

Everyone has that friend who, on the morning of September 22nd (the first day of Fall), sits straight up in bed, sniffs the air, and as their pupils warp into the shape of pumpkins, they realize… PUMPKIN SPICE EVERYTHING IS HERE!!!! (and then you pretend you don’t know that person anymore). If you are that friend (of which I am guilty), your whole fall season is peppered with the tantalizing swirls of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and the main event – pumpkin! You scour the stores for anything that reads pumpkin, regardless of whether or not it makes sense: from a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks to Chobani Pumpkin Spice Yogurt to Pumpkin Spice Organic Kombucha to Pumpkin Spice Organic Kale Chips from Sprouts to Pumpkin Spice Caribbean Style Salsa from Tastin’ Jamaican. Eater Idk lists 65 Pumpkin Spice Foods That Have No Business Being Pumpkin Spiced; I would argue that some of these products are perfectly pumpkin spiced, but that’s for another time. Today’s question is: why is there this ridiculous craze for pumpkin spice?

Courtesy of Sprouts
Image Courtesy of SimplyRecipes.com

There are a couple different reasons why people, including myself, get so pumpkin crazed around this time of year; these reasons are explained by the spice, the sugar, and the everything nice associated with the season. Starbucks is often credited with the launch of the Pumpkin Spice craze with the launch of the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 (that’s the ‘PSL’ for all the trendy millennials out there), according to USA Today: Why is America So Crazy About Pumpkin Spice?. Pumpkin spice is normally composed of five different spices: cinnamon, clove, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg. These spices are not exclusive to ‘pumpkin spice,’ however, as many of these spices are found through various cultural foods such as chai, baklava, and many apple-based baked goods. Contrary to the name, most items advertised as ‘Pumpkin Spice’ lack actual pumpkin as an ingredient and are comprised solely of spices. Additionally, thanks to human anatomy, much of the actual taste of pumpkin spice is delivered by the aroma. The combination of spices in the air causes people to travel back in time to  fall holiday memories filled with fall comforts, sweet treats like homemade pumpkin pie, and cherished family gatherings. This collective nostalgia has assisted in the large draw of the ‘Pumpkin Spice Craze’.

Courtesy of Kashi
Courtesy of La Colombe

The primary ingredients of pumpkin spice have various health benefits: pumpkin is packed with Vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium, and the spices various minerals and vitamins as well. All of these ingredients have been known to have health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, supporting eye health, improving digestion, reducing inflammation, and controlling blood sugar. While in theory pumpkin spice products are healthy for you, unfortunately, too many of the pumpkin spice products products available are loaded with excessive sugars and fats. This not only makes them more addictive but loaded with calories! Some of the highest calorie pumpkin spice delicacies include: the very popular Pumpkin Spice Lattes, dazzling pumpkin spice donuts, indulgent pumpkin muffins and cookies, and creamy pumpkin spice ice creams according, according to The Science behind the Pumpkin Spice Craze.

But there is hope! If you’re looking for an easy solution to indulge in the pumpkin season while watching your diet, take a ride on the internet highway in search of Pumpkin Spice recipes. Many of the excessive calories associated with Pumpkin Spice can be avoided when you make your own tasty pumpkin treats. This also allows you the opportunity to make substitutions as you deem fit; so if you’re like me (a cooking fanatic with a desire for all things Pumpkin Spice) follow these links for all of your homemade Pumpkin Spice needs:

Courtesy of Einstein Bros. Bagels
Courtesy of alistdaily.com

Of course, the craze isn’t built solely on the cherished memories of the consumer or their sugar addictions; much of the hype has been created through brilliant marketing strategies. Due to the fact that Pumpkin Spice is only available for a limited time, this marketing strategy has rooted the delicious food additive to all things associated with fall such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, cooler weather, and warm family moments. This not only creates a sense of urgency and desire to get the pumpkin spice latte when it’s available, but also sense of autumn nostalgia. Additionally, Starbucks has taken the Pumpkin Spice Latte marketing strategy a step further and personified the latte. This is part of their strategy to appeal directly to their customers. Starbucks has targeted their audience via social media and created posts that are ‘amusing, creative, and visually appealing…[and] diverse,’ according to 6 Marketing Lessons from Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. Pumpkin Spice has grown broken past the walls of Starbucks and expanded into other establishments such as Dunkin Donuts, Einstein Bros., Dutch Brothers, Sprouts, Kroger, and so many more. Each year, pumpkin spice makes it’s appearance in more and more places, meeting ever-increasing demand. Needless to say, regardless if you’re a fan or not, Pumpkin Spice won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon.

Pumpkin Spice fanatics rejoice!

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