Introduced by Starbucks in 2003, the Pumpkin Spice Latte or PSL as it has become to be known today, is a staple of autumn culture in America.
According to a Forbes’ story from 2015, pumpkin spice is a $500 million a year industry. This industry includes everything from the aforementioned PSL, beer, wine, cider, vodka, pop tarts, applesauce, cereal, about a dozen forms of baked goods, deodorant (yes, you read that right, there is pumpkin spice deodorant) and even candles and air fresheners.
This is getting out of control. I remember a time when the only pumpkin products I consumed were pie, and perhaps bread. A time when pumpkin spice was something you didn’t find on every single aisle in the grocery store but was limited to the baking aisle and the only thing it meant was a spice you sprinkled into your filling before you baked it into a pie.
Today, pumpkin spice is a lifestyle and an indicator. It signals the unofficial beginning of fall in much the same way that the Shamrock Shake signals the beginning of March and of St. Patrick’s celebrations. It’s the way we find out who the “basic white girls” are in our group of friends.
This lifestyle is also inherently reserved for the middle and upper classes. When you have limited and seasonal items, companies can charge what they want. The smallest PSL at Starbucks costs over $4.
I don’t fault Starbucks for selling the PSL. Studies have shown that people who purchase the PSL will also spend more than other customers. The biggest factor in this is that it is a limited time product. It only makes sense. Pumpkin is getting out of control though and it needs to stop.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things good about pumpkins and even a few things to make out of them, but those things should be limited in number.
For me, there are really only a few acceptable uses of pumpkins. Pumpkins are for making pies, making breads, for sitting on your front porch in whole or as a jack-o’-lantern and for Disney to chariot Cinderella to and from the royal ball. That is it. This gourd is not to be used for anything else, least of all for destroying our coffee.
So, if not pumpkin, then what should we as a society be consuming in the fall months? The answer is simple really. Apples.
Apples are a great fall food that can be used in a variety of ways. Apples can be used to make juice, it can be used to make pies and finally it can be used to make the greatest drink, aside from water, known to man. Cider. The drink that, in the words of “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” tastes “like pure, melted gold.”
Also, apples grow on trees. Trees do things in the fall, they change colors. What better way to signal the change of the season than by going picking for apples in a beautiful orchard? You can pull that apple right off the tree and bite into it. There’s no prickly stem to cut up your hands. There’s no cutting open the top and endangering yourself with a sharp or dull knife. There’s no disgusting, slimy innards. There’s just a simple piece of fruit ready for you to consume. Apples are the perfect fall food.