In Defense of a Much-Maligned Fall Favorite

September 29th, 2015

This post originally appeared as a column in our SmallTownUSA newspaper on September 27th…

This is meant to be a lighthearted column, but I’m afraid I must diverge from the norm today. I’ve been seeing some really unkind memes floating around online in recent days and I feel I simply must take a stand against this sort of activity.

Why is everybody hating on pumpkin spice this year?79919-autumn-meme-Pumpkin-Spice-ALL-HEKO

Now, I’m a good sport. I can take some gentle banter about the sudden profusion of pumpkin spice offerings when the calendar turns to September. There were some good Cinderella-inspired motifs going around at the end of August about how at the stroke of midnight, the world would turn to pumpkin spice. Clever.

But I’ve seen quite a few comments that are aggressively uncharitable and I am compelled to come to the defense of poor pumpkin spice.

First off, can we all agree that pumpkin spice is a magical flavor concoction that manages to elegantly distill the essence of fall into a single aromatic, culinary triumph? The warmth of cinnamon, the boldness of cloves, the bite of ginger, with a hint of allspice and a bit of subtle nutmeg. Bliss.

What’s that? You reject my foundational premise? You sound like my mother. My mom has an irrational aversion to pumpkin – and pumpkin pie spice – and thus I never tasted the stuff until I was an adult. (I also blame her for the dearth of broccoli in my life until after I was married, but that’s a story for another time.)

Okay, fine. You don’t have to love the actual flavor of pumpkin spice to appreciate its inherent societal value. Pumpkin pie spice is a SYMBOL, people. It is a cultural marker; a harbinger if you will, heralding the arrival of the Best Season of the Year.

When you walk into the grocery store and are greeted by pumpkin spice coffee, donuts, cookies, muffins, and bagels, you know that fall is making its grand entrance. Rejoice! Rejoice! The season of apple crisp and hayrides is here. Shout hooray! It’s time for bonfires and leaf piles. Hallelujah! Trade in your bathing suit for a hooded sweatshirt. (Can I get an amen, sisters?)

Occasionally, the manufacturers of the world can go too far. I will grant that there is probably no need for pumpkin spice pudding, dog biscuits, lasagna noodles, air freshener, or Pr
ingles (yes, they’re all real). But on the whole, I steadfastly maintain that the arrival of pumpkin spice each year is a momentous event that should be met with heartfelt cheers. Or at least a celebratory muffin.

Pumpkin-spiced, of course.

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