Foodie on the Half Shell: Pumpkin Spice

As I bite into my pumpkin spice muffin this morning, I ponder what the heck it is that makes this flavor so enticing. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good pumpkin spiced…anything? Pumpkin spice cookie, beer, body wash, and of course the famous Starbucks pumpkin spice latte!

Now, many connotations go with pumpkin spice, such as the distasteful idea of being “basic.” The college girl who likes Uggs, fleeces, and Starbucks, and, oh you know, soft and warm things. God forbid a culture amongst women goes without being criticized. Well, I really don’t want to get into that, but I would like to share that there are true reasons why we love pumpkin spice so much, and it has nothing to do with my North Face.

First of all, pumpkin spice is the unofficial start to the holiday season. When that spice begins to be sold in the stores, we know that Halloween is coming, which brings Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah seems to come right after. The holiday season is a time for family and relaxation, and college students don’t get a lot of either. Pumpkin spice is a symbol for “Don’t worry, you’re almost through this”, or “we love you, Olivia.”

Our sense of smell is so attached to our memories that it has the control to zip us right back to an era that we may have forgotten before that sweet sip of a pumpkin spice latte. The smells of cinnamon and pumpkin swirl together and create the image in our head of fresh pumpkin pies, picking your favorite pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, or that disastrous year where the bacon to your eggs-and-bacon costume dumped you last minute, so you had to go to the party as some sad yolk… Want to take a trip down memory lane? Cozy up with some pumpkin spiced stuff (you may want to bring a box of tissues with you).

Everyone can relate to the tastes and smells of pumpkin spice because it is an international combination of spices and flavors. So no, everyone, you can stop calling pumpkin spice a white person thing. Where does cinnamon come from? Sri Lanka, all the way over near India, actually. Cinnamon doesn’t just flavor your coffee drinks, it’s also a necessary ingredient in most curries. What about pumpkins, you may ask? Yes, they are indigenous to the Americas, but believe me…pilgrims were not the first to plant them. Whether it’s the ginger, the pumpkin, or the cinnamon—pumpkin spice brings to you the tastes of your roots, no matter how close or how far.

So, all of these in depth reasons as to why we like pumpkin spice may not seem very relevant. You might just say, “Shut up, I just like the taste.” Ah, my dear readers, there is always a hidden scientific reason behind everything these days, didn’t you know that? For example, my nephew eats carrots and vanilla ice cream with the same enthusiasm. One of these days, though, he will understand that ice cream is associated with a lot more fun things than carrots are. So cozy up with some pumpkin spiced things with your new found knowledge and taste the flavors of our forefathers and the memories mixed within.

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