OPINION: Pumpkin spice is not worth the hype


Allie Hendricks

Photo Illustration by Allie Hendricks

Price Wilborn, Commentary writer

October has officially started, which means pumpkin spice season is in full swing. During the next couple months, pumpkin spice flavored products will be all the rage. The all-powerful pumpkin spice latte comes immediately to mind, but that calls for a whole other piece itself.

Aside from PSL’s, you’ll find pumpkin spice flavored Peeps, ice cream, coffee creamer, cookies and even pumpkin spice Cup Noodles (I promise they’re a real thing, I looked it up).

Personally, I don’t understand the hype.

A disclaimer before we get started: I know that this is a very unpopular opinion and that it’s going to ruffle some feathers. This is not supposed to be taken (very) seriously. Don’t come at me.

Anyway, here we go.

Fall should be a calm time of year where people can begin to relax and calm down from the ripping and running of the summer months. Instead, pumpkin spice season brings with it an urgency to consume as many pumpkin spice things that one possibly can. The rush to find one’s favorite pumpkin spice treats distracts one from what fall is all about. 

To me, fall is a time where I can spend time with my friends and family outdoors and not be absolutely miserable while doing so. It’s a time where I can enjoy mums and pumpkins and other fall decorations. It allows me to renew my love for nature and the world in a way that is personal to me. 

I can do things like going on hay rides, carving pumpkins, making pies and other stereotypical fall things that only the season allows. 

I want to enjoy fall because it’s fall, not because of a societal construct created to prey on the vulnerable pumpkin spice lovers out there. 

(It’s at this point in writing this that I realized that, if the Spice Girls were to be formed today, one of them would definitely be Pumpkin.)

It seems that pumpkin spice arrives earlier and earlier each year. This year, I wasn’t through with summer yet before PSL’s were available at Starbucks. Heck, it wasn’t even officially fall yet, and it was already making me feel rushed to finish up my summer. The arrival of fall should mean the arrival of pumpkin spice, not the other way around.

I will concede that it is for pumpkin spice that some people look forward to fall the most. If you aren’t a huge fan of the weather or you don’t like having to rake up the leaves every week, pumpkin spice can be a well-deserved relief from the stresses of the season.

I will also acknowledge that it is the annual arrival and limited time availability that makes pumpkin spice the craze that it is. It’s a special time for people to enjoy some of their favorite treats in one of their favorite times of the year.

However, pumpkin spice has an artificiality to it that makes it totally different from pumpkin. For example, Starbucks introduced their PSL in 2003, but there was no actual pumpkin in the recipe until 2015.

Products all over are the same way. Pumpkin spice is a mixture of spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Yes, it can be good sometimes, but pairing them in smaller amounts with actual pumpkins is so much better.

So yes, I love pumpkin things- pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are some of my favorite fall treats – but I don’t like pumpkin spice. The commercialization of pumpkin spice has given pumpkin foods a bad reputation, and it’s time that we change that. It’s time to #FreePumpkin from the commercialism of pumpkin spice and allow it to be what it was truly meant to be: awesome.

Commentary writer Price Wilborn can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @pricewilborn.