Life is boring, let’s spice it up

“It’s coming, God help us all.” ~ Acknowledgement of the arrival of the first batch of seasonal pumpkin spice syrup, as posted on a “PSL support group” by a Starbucks barista for his comrades.

Latte. Muffin. Cookie. Dip. Beer. Pancake. Scone. Smoothie. Donut. Ice Cream. Hummus. Pick your pumpkin poison.

Everybody loves pumpkin spice. Don’t deny it. (And don’t knock it. They may come for you.)

The marketing company Nielsen published a report about pumpkin spice proving that we Americans, in our obtrusive obsessive ways, may be a bit taken with pumpkin spice. The actual pumpkin, not so much. In Neilsen’s words, “Americans dig the flavor, not the vegetable.”

In 1987 each one of us consumed an average of 3 pounds of actual pumpkin per year. In 2014 that rose to an average of 4.5 pounds per person. Compare that to the stats on just one area of hot pumpkin sales, the Starbucks latte, which gave Starbucks an estimated cool $100 million in one season.

If you are on Pinterest, you are well aware that’s the tip of the iceberg. If pumpkin spice is what you want, pumpkin spice is what you will get. The power of suggestion has never been stronger than through anything “spice.” Just today, I had my inaugural serving in the form of an ice cream shake from Bogey’s in Salina and I can confidently say that I’ve only just begun.

This craziness may go deeper than the aroma and taste. It has been reported that these groovy pumpkin spice vibes are rooted much deeper, way down in our memories and hearts and in the feelings they attach themselves to.

For instance, another cozy spice, cinnamon, according to the Washington Post, “urges us to cuddle up with one another.” It is one of the few scents that even an aging nose can detect and it ties us to our parents, elderly relatives and the people who make us feel safe.

These warm and spicy scents and flavors don’t make us hungry. They make us nostalgic.

I can vouch for this. There is no homier time in my house than the first glorious cool front of fall. Before visions of sugar plums dance in our heads, (which trust me, are polishing their dancing shoes as I write this) we are dreaming of hoodies, afghans, movies and a glowing fireplace.

The Post report added, “Maybe it’s the cooling weather, or the fact that we all remember our school days, but the pumpkin scent seems to hit consumers on a deeper level. It’s so evocative of the emotions we associate with the season: crisp air, hunkering down on chilly nights and anticipating the Christmas season…. When fall hits, we’ve reached a six-month-long golden period that ends in the New Year.”

A six-month-long golden period. Oh yes! If you’re ever going to get to the Christmas Eve eggnog and New Year’s Eve champagne, you have to go through – not around – pumpkin spice latte. It’s simply the natural law of order.

Make it easy on yourself. Grab a mug, a muffin, a bottle, soup, a cup of hummus, (I guess, if you’re into that kind of thing.) Then follow the leader. There’s nothing to fear (unless you’re the barista, and if so, simply find your nearest support group.)

Spice it up.