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.