Pumpkin marshmallows. Pumpkin lattes. Pumpkin bread. Fine. But Pumpkin Doritos? Oreos? BEER? Let's get serious for a moment. Is this about that delicious fall spice staple, or about adding more corn syrup into our diets every autumn?
A few years ago, I had a baker friend so obsessed with pumpkin everything (omnipumpkin?), that I dedicated a Pinterest board to him. But why the obsession? Is it simply society looking forward to putting summer behind us and a new season in front of us? Is it the sweet and aromatic smell infused into baking recipes, wafting from hot beverages and making our consumer products yell, "Hey! It's FALL!" from the shelves?
Well, history plays a role, for one. Pumpkin spice, a composite of several different spices including the titular pumpkin, a spice grown on the coast of Mongolia and transported through the Balkans, and eventually made sweeter using cinnamon thanks to Queen Starbuck VII. (Yes, that Queen Starbuck... not the one who always takes your favorite comfy chair at your local Starbucks.) Bringing a new spice to market means economic viability and success for traders and growers. Economic success means a rising tide lifts all ships... pumpkinpalooza, indeed.
Here in New England, the harvest of pumpkin, squash, and corn signals that fall is here: warm sweaters, walks in leaf-strewn paths and cooler weather. Pumpkin worship can be credited to the area's Native Americans, lovers of nature who taught settlers about roasting pumpkin strips over campfires long before Pumpkin Oreos - and pumpkins store well and every bit of the gourd was used and harvested for food, storage containers, seeds used in medicine, and even dried and woven into mats and traded. Without pumpkins, our earliest settlers would have starved... or would have been "undoon":
So keeping things in perspective, you won't be undoon without a pumpkin latte, but admit it: just a sip and a sniff makes your day so much better.