Pumpkin Spice Errywhere[NOT 14/9/21]

Hi, friends!

It’s that season again. the season of “we’re going to make everything pumpkin spice scented/flavored.” I llove pumpkin spice blends in baked goods and candles, but that’s about it.

I saw Bud Light Pumpkin Spice Hard Seltzer over the weekend, and wow that sounds like a horrible idea. I love hard seltzers, but they’re not a strong flavor drink and I feel like it would just be gross. But then I was like I wonder about the history of the spice blend before Starbuck’s came out with Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

Here’s some info on the history of the spice blend from Better Homes & Gardens (https://www.bhg.com/recipes/seasonal/pumpkin-spice-history).

“The origin of pumpkin spice dates back to the Dutch East India Company. Most spices in today’s blend—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves—are native to Southeast Asian islands. Some could be found exclusively on a few island groups that are now part of Indonesia. Known as the Spice Islands, their location was a closely guarded secret. The Dutch took control of the Spice Islands in the early-17th century. Those islands became integral to the success of the Dutch East India Company and the spread of those spices. Access to the spices inspired the Dutch to  create blends such as speculaaskruiden, which is similar to pumpkin spice but also has cardamom and sometimes white pepper. The popularity of speculaaskruiden in Netherland desserts lead to the spices moving across borders.”

— I love cardamom and this sounds superior to the cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg blend that a lot of companies use

McCormick, the world’s largest spice seller, introduced a spice mix branded as “pumpkin pie spice” to America in 1934. “The original purpose was to flavor pumpkin pie,” says Laurie Harrsen, McCormick’s senior director of consumer communications. That introduction was a direct response to the invention of pureed canned pumpkin, which canned-food company Libby’s, then based in Chicago, had introduced in 1929. Pumpkins could be difficult to prepare in those days (and still are, if we’re honest), and the shelf-stable cans of perfectly smooth puree made pumpkin pie incredibly easy to make.”

I love the innovations that came out of early and mid 20th century based on food storage, etc. The spices in McCormick’s blend aren’t all that common for many home cooks – cinnamon notwithstanding – and they are relatively expensive. Having a blend you could buy for when you needed a few teaspoons of it was very convenient for home cooks.

Anyways, in case you’re wondering about how pervasive it is now, Trader Joe’s “Oh My Gourd” fall food guide has literally dozens of products including hummus that are pumpkin spice flavored.



      • That’s understandable. When he did Weekend Update, I think I was too young to get his humour (or maybe he was going for the cringe factor), but his appearances and sets afterward were memorable. Here’s his set on Letterman’s last Late Night show, where he gets unexpectedly emotional. 

    • I remember liking his stuff in the late 90s/aughts, but I haven’t seen much since, and lately, I’ve been afraid to look up his recent stuff.
      I’m not much for celebrities, but this is somewhat sad to hear…

  1. I think this is a case of “Starbucks ruins everything” (no relation to Adam Conover). For instance, I love flat whites from my time appreciating Australian coffee culture, but leave it to Starbucks to do their interpretation of something and make it mega-sized and meh. Then, their version of something becomes ubiquitous and therefore what the majority of people associate with the item. 
    I agree the “pumpkin spice” season of products has gotten out of hand, but the original blend of “pumpkin PIE spice” is actually quite good and convenient. It’s not bad in coffee drinks, but it’s best for seasoning actual pie filling. But too many people assume the spice includes pumpkin, which it doesn’t. [And don’t get me wrong, tons of actual pumpkin stuff is good, as we discuss on last night’s NOT. It’s just that it’s become synonymous with being “basic”, which nobody wants to admit it’s OK to be from time to time.] 
    BTW: Dutch speculaaskruiden is divine. You may recognize it as being the key to speculoos, the delightful biscuits (and “cookie butter”), and part of kruidnoten + pepernoten (biscuits you’ll see around Christmas and special occasions). Dutch Christmas rituals, however, are a whole other hellfire we won’t address here…

  2. My wife was in town today and bought some pumpkin spice bagels that were on sale.  They are awful.  She figures that toasted and covered with cream cheese and honey they’ll go down ok, but I’m steering well clear.  

  3. I’m not a huge fan but I mostly ignore it — not sure it’s worth a backlash. But I did get a jolt of Thanksgiving today because the farm stand I stopped by is selling a $99 package for Thanksgiving of a free range turkey, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, eggs, apples, cider and a pie.
    I’m tempted at a minimum to put in an order for a turkey instead of the usual supermarket bird this year.

    • Me too, though I’ll admit I roll my eyes at every new iteration. I tried the pumpkin spice Cheerios a few yrs ago and they were terrible. It just doesn’t need to be in everything.

  4. huh….pumpkin spice came from us? thats funny
    guess whats nowhere to be found round here? thats right….pumpkin spice…suspect it will turn up sooner or later tho
    speculaas is every where tho…either as a spice or in bisquit shape..sold year round
    we also have speculoos now…..which is basically those bisquits….but spreadable…think nutella

    • wow…only typed out half my comment…suspect pumpkin spice will turn up here eventually coz halloween is starting to get a foothold here…tho i dont expect any trick or treaters any time soon
      anyways..think i need to focus on getting more coffee in me….

    • that’s promising, and I hope it holds.
      CA recall elections are so much bullshit, and this one is especially a shit-show.
      I mean, the last one was also a shit-show, but I feel like we kinda lucked out with Schwarzenegger, I don’t think he turned out to be horrible, especially for a Republican.  Still never should have happened, though…

  5. – I steer clear of pumpkin spiced goods. I’ve tried it, and I don’t get the devoted following.
    – Dog bless Norm for his deranged take on Burt Reynolds for SNL. He’d probably wince at my appreciation, since he apparently considered himself a stand-up comic vs. a character actor. But his performances as “Turd Ferguson” were comedic high-water marks for me.
    – Good for California, but fuck a process that lets so much taxpayer money go into a shit-show like that.

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