Pumpkin is having a banner year.
Despite our proximity to Halloween, I’m not referring to the simple orange globes adorning most front porch stoops these days, but rather the combination of the winter squash and one seemingly magical word – spice.
The word spice is the best thing to happen to a food since the invention of the bread slicer.
From the doughnut shop to the coffee house, the potato chip aisle and the candle store, pumpkin spice currently dominates the retail market. Companies make pumpkin spice toaster pastries, pumpkin spice hand lotion, candles, pastries, lip balm, nuts, tea, cupcakes, ice cream, candy and yes, even pumpkin spice-flavored Pringles.
The cherry on top of pumpkin’s banner year, the granddaddy of all pumpkin spice goodness celebrates a milestone in 2013 – it’s the 10th anniversary of Starbucks’ famous pumpkin spice latte.
Pumpkin spice has co-opted my favorite season, and I’m not sure it’s for the better. I’m just as crazy about my pumpkin spice latte as the next guy, but has pumpkin spice jumped the shark?
The Seattle-based coffee company estimates more than 200 million pumpkin spice lattes – or #PSL, the official Twitter hashtag – have been sold nationwide.
Building on America’s capitalist roots, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander – or in this case, what’s good for Starbucks is good for McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera … the list goes on.
Pumpkin spice has joined the ranks of Christmas creep as products make their way into the market earlier each year. I used to relish walking though campus, #PSL in hand, feeling the chill in the air and watching the leaves swirl beneath my feet. This year, Starbucks rolled out the latte in August. It was still 90+ degrees outside.
I’m starting to think the nation’s marketing firms have inhaled a bit too much spice.
What’s not to love about fall? Sweaters, jackets, hikes, changing leaves, boots, corn mazes, cooler weather and festivals already dominate the mindset. For my two cents, it’s already the perfect season.
As American retailers continue to battle the spice war, it only seems fitting to quote the immortal Spice Girls at a time like this: I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want … and it’s not pumpkin spice.