Pumpkin spice has taken over everything from leggings and dog food to lipstick, which may have led you to ask yourself: How much PSL is too much? It seems the answer for most Americans is (cue Mean Girls voice): The limit does not exist.
The fall flavor has been popular ever since Starbucks introduced it back in 2003, but it seems to still be everywhere (definitely not complaining, especially about its healthier renditions). But recently, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni went on a mission to demystify and understand the stuff.
In an article titled “Will Pumpkin Spice Destroy Us All?” Bruni casts a skeptical eye on the trend’s ever-expanding reach and what it reveals about us as a society and country. Translation: He’s seriously concerned.
Here are 3 of Bruni’s most pointed observations in what amounts to a PSL intervention. (I can quit anytime, really!)
1. PSL season is starting earlier and earlier every year, and it’s a problem
This year pumpkin-spice season basically started while you were still writing your summer vacay OOO emails. “They used to stage their invasion on the cusp of Halloween. Now they barely wait for September to take over the world,” Bruni writes. “One day, we’re still catching the faint perfume of Coppertone on summer-bronzed arms; the next we’re trapped, aromatically speaking, inside an enormous orange gourd. It happens that quickly, that insidiously.”
2. Pumpkin spice is a metaphor for America
“I finally realize that, because at last I see that pumpkin spice is more than a curiosity, bigger than a phenomenon. Pumpkin spice is America,” he says. Bruni adds, “It’s invention run amok, marketing gone mad, the odoriferous emblem of commercialism without compunction or bounds.”
3. Pumpkin spice is actually a made-up flavor and a made-up spice
As Bruni hilariously points out, “There isn’t any spice called pumpkin, nor any pumpkin this spicy.” Though he admits that “sometimes there are slight vestiges of genuine clove and vague traces of honest-to-goodness cinnamon. Frequently there are just chemical impostors.” Sigh. Okay, got it. But Frank, have you tried this homemade recipe from Clean Food Dirty City founder (and Well+Good Council member) Lily Kunin? It might inspire another column, just saying…
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