Why is Pumpkin so Popular in the Fall?
What's With the Annual Pumpkin Obsession?
Every year in late August or early September, it arrives, riding the coattails of another lovely summer and coming in swiftly to remind us that fall is on its way. Some people see it and groan, lamenting the cold weather that is to come and the ridiculousness of the cultural obsession. The overwhelming majority, however, see it arrive and quickly start flocking to their local coffee shops and grocery stores, buying up everything they can find in the flavor. That’s right, it’s Pumpkin Spice season and everywhere you look, there is something pumpkin flavored or scented looking back at you. Most of us aren’t complaining, but we do have to wonder – how did pumpkin become the uncontested King and Queen of autumn?
Pumpkins have been a part of American culture ever since the colonists first arrived on the shores and set up home and shop in this country. Many crops that were brought over from Europe failed in the new lands, but pumpkins thrived in the eastern colonies and were an important staple of early American life. Over the years, pumpkin evolved into a symbol or rural America, a bit of comfort and a throwback to simple life outside of the city. As we prepare our homes for fall decorating for the new season, we lean into a rustic vibe with pumpkins and gourds decorating our front steps.
Pumpkins, of course, come into season in the fall so, early on, they became a staple food for fall holiday meals. Much the same way that we feel our summer barbeques are complete without watermelon and sweet corn, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without that pumpkin pie.
The real thrust of pumpkin spice into prominence, however, can be pinpointed at the door of coffee goliath Starbucks. In 2003, they premiered a kitschy and experimental fall drink called the Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately known by its lovers as PSL. The drink, at the time, might have seemed like a strange combination – coffee and pumpkin? – but it quickly caught on as fan favorite. Within a few short years, the PSL became the defining element for people to know that fall is on its way. When you see the Pumpkin Spice Latte sign go up at your local ‘Bucks, you know that summer is coming to a close.
Not long after consumers started tripping over themselves to get at the delicious fall beverage, other manufacturers of all types of food and beverage products, as well as just about anything that could be scented, started rolling out their own Pumpkin Spice versions of classic products. And of course, the public uproariously agreed that Pumpkin Spice is the king of all fall scents and tastes.
McCormick spicemakers started producing the Pumpkin Pie spice in 1939 as a shortcut for people to bake their pumpkin pies. McCormick sites, however, that 95% of their sales for this product are done between September and December every year. Trend-trackers in the industry suggest that the reason pumpkin-flavored everything is so popular each year is because of the scarcity principle. Of course pumpkin is delicious no matter what time of year you have it but if it was being offered year round, people would never have the opportunity to get excited about the premier of something that was withheld from them for a significant portion of time. When pumpkin hits the market each year, people flock to get as much as they can before it’s taken away for another 9 months.
Pumpkin, the oldest domesticated crop of American life, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Neither is the people’s love for it. If you’re looking for pumpkin-scented everything this fall, check out our Toasted Pumpkin Candle at Urban Re-leaf. You can fulfill all of your pumpkin dreams. Shop in our online. But like always, it won’t be here much longer so get yours today.
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