At this point, we’re 25 days into October. That’s 25 days of being surrounded, saturated, completely inundated with seasonal products boasting the much-beloved—and at this point ubiquitous—“pumpkin spice”.
In fact, pumpkin spiced “stuff” has become such a bedrock of October (especially) and parts of November that I imagine most of you, upon reading those words above, immediately and subconsciously reached for your keys as the first step to an impromptu trip to Starbucks for their most famous of seasonal lattes.
Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. My theory is that they put an addictive chemical in it that, after only two sips, triggers a Pavlovian response in your body. You’re conditioned to yearn for some concoction of nutmeg and cinnamon at hearing the words “pumpkin spice” just as the proverbial mean girls crave drama.
Seriously, Starbucks should probably be donating half it’s fourth quarter profits to the Pavlov Institute or something.
Anyway, the point is, the PS is everywhere right now. It’s so much everywhere, in fact, that even I’ve noticed you can’t walk 10 feet in North America without being bombarded by something theoretically pumpkin-spiced. And that’s pretty impressive considering I rarely notice even remarkably obvious things, you know, like the sun, or the hands attached to the ends of my arms. I’m so often lost in the thoughts of my own little world that you could hit me across the bridge of the noise with a rotten mackerel and then tape said fish to my back as an expressionist “kick me” sign, and I likely wouldn’t notice.
So yeah, the pumpkin products have profoundly proliferated.
Ignoring the fact for a moment that “pumpkin spice” isn’t even a real thing—I mean it’s not; crack open the nearest orange shell and tell me whether or not it smells anything like that latte you’ve been sipping—what I really want to know is, where in the unholy name of Monsanto are we getting all these pumpkins?
Think about it: your entire grocery store is overrun with pumpkin-flavored stuff. Pies, cakes, cookies, candies, beers, breads, sausages, donuts, teas, muffins, whatever. Well, okay, maybe not pumpkin sausages yet, but surely someone will try it soon. Probably be next year’s fad, likely popularized by one of those crazy food truck people you see on the Cooking channel. It’ll be covered in a kim-chee slaw which will look disgusting but somehow taste like rainbows on your tongue, like buffalo fairy wings or something. But I digress.
Yep, buying groceries in the fall means being awash in orangey hues, numbed to pumpkiny pervasiveness.
How often do you see pumpkins actually growing, you know, in a field?
Oh, but Puddin, you say, we take the kids to a pumpkin patch every year to pick out the perfect speciman for Jack-o-Lanterns.
Sure, sure you do. So do we. But then, is it really a pumpkin patch, where the brightly colored bastards are sitting happily on a vine, waiting to be cut off, plucked up off the ground, and taken home? Or is it more likely a place where you take the ever popular hay ride out to the middle of grassy field where any number of pumpkins can be found sitting in the patient hope of being chosen, with nary a vine in sight? As if perhaps they were flown there and dropped off by a flight of magical pumpkin storks one night under the harvest moon.
If autumn were instead flush with products laced with a more readily apparent crop, I might not be so surprised. I mean, who doesn’t expect that sooner or later corporate crop-growers are going to find a way to suffuse our everyday lives with more corn, even beyond the nefarious high-fructose corn syrup? Who will be the first to offer a corn spice latte? Would that really come as much of shock considering the stuff is grown everywhere? Hell, it’s probably already half-way to sentience by now, too. Pretty soon we’ll all wrap up our Thanksgiving dinners with a big wobbly slice of sticky corn pie. That candy corn you love so much is going to be replaced with candied corn, and before long, sweet, golden, cream-filled corn rolls will likely line bakery cases across North America.
We’re not there yet, though, thank the holy tractors. The flavor of fall these days is still decidedly pumpkin. But I don’t see fields of fat orange globes nestled among vines when I drove through American’s farmlands.
Yet everywhere else I go, I see fully-grown (over-priced) specimens just begging to be purchased, or an endless array of foodstuffs claiming them as a primary ingredient. So how has our demand not outrun the available supply?
The entirety of my consciousness is consumed with pumpkiny goodness. And that’s fine. It’s great, even. I heart the bloody orange things.
I just can’t help wondering if aliens are leaving them as a means of population control.
That is, assuming they aren’t—like everything else we consume—simply made in China.