Starbuck’s Tasty Money Maker & Fall Fav
Pumpkin spice season is almost over! Now everything from your favorite Starbucks coffee beverage to your corner bakery will no longer be seasoned, sprinkled, or swirled with this ubiquitous blend of spices.
American advertisers can thank Starbucks for this phenomenon. In 2003, Starbucks introduced the world to its Pumpkin Spice Latte and the trend exploded making an estimated $ 100 million in 2015 according to Forbes magazine.
Starbucks made pumpkin spice the official flavor of fall and synonymous with the season. When I see autumn leaves, I start to smell pumpkin spice. All the major companies like Trader Joes and Home Goods have pumpkin spiced items and it smells delicious! I buy the pumpkin spiced seasonal decorations and even spike my hot chocolate with it…
But are you aware that “pumpkin spice “ is nothing more than: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and they’re probably sitting in your spice drawer separately or in the magical mixture labeled, you guessed it “pumpkin spice”? There have been some rumblings about the hype and overexposure to pumpkin-spiced everything from September to Spring.
Yet, according to Peter Lape from the University Of Washington, Americans aren’t the only ones who were pumped for one of the four spices. Lape led a team of archeologists who discovered nutmeg on a shard of pottery in Palau Ay, Indonesia estimated to be 3,500 years old. In the 1600’s, Europe’s craving for exotic flavors brought them to the “Spice Islands” in Asia which arguably could have been the gateway to the next big food addiction and culinary trend – sugar. Although the spices have a slight sweetness on their own, they pair well with natural sweeteners like brown sugar, honey or even maple syrup.
American food historians say our pumpkin spice history dates back to its first reference in a cookbook in 1936 and then 1950’s when the McCormick spice company started selling pumpkin pie spice.
As you can see, this combination closely resembles pumpkin spice’s Asian ancestor, Chai spice as it has the four standard spices and allspice. However, standard chai recipes call for cardamom and some also include white or black pepper for an extra kick.
I have to admit, it took me several years to get on board, with the pumpkin spice craze, but now I’m sold. For years I resisted because I thought I’d betray my southern sensibility and humble roots. We southerners like to make things plain -we don’t “beat around a bush” as my Grandparents use to say … These are warm, wholesome spices – not fancy like saffron … They are pantry staples, especially around the holidays. The cost to buy all four spices separately is probably cheaper than high-end blends. To be totally honest, I attribute these four spices to sweet potatoes pies, and I actually prefer to add them separately because each batch is different and may need more or less of one of the spices.
But I get it, sweet potato spice doesn’t slide off the tongue like the 3 rhythmic syllables in pump-kin spice. I still think it’s a little pretentious and high browed to force my four favorite fall flavors into a mass marketing campaign, but it’s so tasty and delicious I don’t care.
If you haven’t joined the pumpkin spice revolution, it will get you eventually – like candy corn at Halloween, cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, candy canes at Christmas and Peeps or jellybeans at Easter. You may not eat any of these things (again), but the holidays (and certain family members) just aren’t the same without them.
Good-bye Pumpkin Spice Season!
Originally published on Medium.com