After Gillette House flooded and robbed me of a good night’s sleep, what was the first thing I did the next morning? Obviously, I put on my 35-pound backpack and trekked down 21st Ave to Starbucks in search of a pumpkin cream cold brew. What kind of cookies do I keep on my nightstand for a late-night snack? Overpriced pumpkin Oreos from CVS, duh. Pumpkin spice is not just a flavor: it is a way of life.
At home, the nearest Starbucks is exactly 29 minutes away. And while I love supporting the lovely locally-owned shops, no one quite encompasses the comfort of fall and all things pumpkin spice quite like Starbucks. In the first decades of its existence, 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes (PSLs) were sold by Starbucks, and that number doubled in the five years to follow. If a drink is that popular and successful, why isn’t it a permanent menu item?
Honestly, part of its appeal is the season it comes with. After our wonderful Deputy Life Editor Phoebe Sklansky told me that she thought PSLs tasted like baked beans (she was right, by the way), it clicked. Was I buying up any pumpkin spice item I could find because I genuinely enjoyed the flavor? Or was I in search of the nostalgic, homey fall feeling?
This year, Starbucks released their fall lineup on Aug. 24. I’d been in Nashville for just two days, and the Southern heat was already wearing me down. While August felt like a weird choice to start getting into the fall spirit, the spiced goodness of a PSL in my hand made it feel like flannels and cool weather were right around the corner. With the world still bearing the weight of COVID-19 and college being a generally stressful time, an overpriced coffee and muffin is like a warm hug. It also brings about a factor of nostalgia; to me, fall means my birthday, pumpkin carving, football games and all the good things life has to bring.
Recently, Owen Graduate School of Management Professor Kelly Haws was quoted in an article detailing the pumpkin spice phenomenon.
“The flavor brings back positive memories for people around family, the holidays, and the fall,” Haws said in an article by Fast Company. “It’s also typically coupled with something sweet and fattening, and we have an innate need and desire for sugar and fat, and many of these pumpkin spice products have a lot of both.”
As Haws mentioned above, Starbucks lattes are not the only product monopolizing on the pumpkin spice madness. Available products range from cookies to hummus to dog treats, and even deodorant (yes, you read that right). Pumpkin spice is more than just a flavor—it’s also autumn’s signature scent. The all-natural, aluminum-free deodorant brand Native figured that since pumpkin spice can be a candle or room spray, why can’t it be a deodorant? So, they offer a Pumpkin Spice Latte deodorant. I mean, it’s got to be better than Axe, at least.
“Have you ever just wanted to lather up in a Pumpkin Spice Latte? Well, now you can. Our Pumpkin Spice Latte scent is a fall fave and back for a limited time. You can keep the gourd vibes going all day with this fresh seasonal scent,” a Native blog post by Victor Verdugo said. “We’re big fans of celebrating the simple things in life. Simple pleasures. Simple routines. Simple ingredients. Packed with good-for-you ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, and baking soda. You could say we’re not afraid to get a little basic.”
Native summarized my thoughts perfectly. Pumpkin spice allows me to celebrate the simple things in life, even when it feels like things will never be normal again. Whether you love it, hate it or love to hate it, pumpkin spice is here to stay (at least until early winter, when it will sadly leave us for a year). Pumpkin spice is not just part of the basic b*tch starter pack—it’s a cozy indulgence and the perfect way to embrace fall.