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3 reasons why you crave pumpkin spice everything come fall, according to science

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Photo: Stocksy/Marti Sans

Remember when Starbucks was the only place you could get a pumpkin spice latte? Feels like ancient history, right? Now, whenever pre-fall hits, out comes every pumpkin spice drink and food imaginable (yep, even for dogs).

You’d think people would tire of PSL items du jour, but the trend hasn’t gone away—and there are deeply-rooted reasons why, CNN reports.

Here are 3 reasons you can’t get enough pumpkin spice in the fall.

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1. It brings back cozy childhood memories, and #nostalgia is everything

Pumpkin spice—a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices frequently used in homemade baked goods—gets people feeling a pleasant sense of nostalgia. And nostalgia, (the “spicy” variety included) is au courant, BTW.

“The aroma of pumpkin spice immediately transports people to all the warm and friendly times that childhood memories are made of.”

Food scientist communicator Kantha Shelke, PhD, said, “the aroma of pumpkin spice immediately transports people to all the warm and friendly times associated with pumpkin pie, holiday gatherings, families, celebrations, treats, sweets…things that childhood memories are made of.”


2. It’s a time-tested (like, millennia) recipe for success

Since the pumpkin spice blend has been used in different cultures around the world for thousands of years, according to Shelke (baklava from the Middle East, for example), the nostalgic effect extends worldwide.


3. The flavor is often chemically boosted, appealing to your sweet tooth

Many pumpkin-spice products are sweet, and the added sugar makes the stuff quite addictive.

“Not quite the same neural mechanisms as drugs of abuse, but certainly the more you consume, the more you reinforce the behavior and want to consume more,” Catherine Franssen, PhD, said.

So, if you find yourself going to Starbucks three times a day to get your PSL fix, remember: It’s not you, it’s science.

Keep your pumpkin spice habit healthy by making these 7 protein bars or this adaptogen-filled latte.