With all that we are dealing with in the world these days, there's only one thing more alarming than the threat of a nuclear disaster in Ukraine, and that's the abrupt and untimely return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Every year, it seems like retail stores are decorating for pumpkin spice season earlier than ever. As if it's not enough that the last quarter of the year is already packed with major holidays. Black Friday is now five days long, the first of which is a 36-hour day, followed by other categories of black days ranging from an Amazon day to a small business day, just to make sure everyone gets their chance at our wallets. We cap it off with Giving Tuesday, the day we give the leftovers, if there are any, to our favorite charity to make us feel better for wasteful spending. All this with a latte in hand, bursting with sweet and cozy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove (of course made with almond milk, so it's a healthy drink that cancels out all the sugar).
It seems like pumpkin spice is everywhere these days, from our chips to our avocado toast. Pumpkin Spice is not only taking over our calendar, and all of our hot beverages and pastries. It's taking over our whole body, including our deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, and beard oil. We have pumpkin spice butter and pumpkin spice butter for humans (or as I like to call it, lotion). You can expect pumpkin spice flavored bar and chain oil to release later this fall to keep your yard equipment running through the end of the year since the warming climate has elongated the lawn maintenance season.
Every fast food chain and packaged food manufacturer is preparing their version of the fall flavor to appease you and signal that they are as festive as you want to be, to remind you 'tis the season to pick up some of their product.
This should go without saying, but I'm afraid I have to say it anyway. I don't want your pumpkin spice Pringles. I don't want an Oreo that tastes like the world's worst candle – also I never wanted to taste a candle, to begin with.
I just want a cup of coffee. That's really it.
No, I don't want any cream in it and you can save the stirring spoon for the next guy investing in the future of the insulin industry. I'd rather just have a lightly roasted cup of coffee, pour-over brewed at a perfect ratio of 15 millimeters of water heated to 203 degrees for every gram of coarsely ground coffee beans, and served in a bone-colored ceramic mug. You know – something simple.
As far as I'm concerned, black coffee is about the best drink you can find. Get creative if it floats your boat, but I'd prefer to focus on the fundamentals. I've said it a million times if I've said it once. You know what's better than bourbon-infused coffee?
That's what's better. Or bourbon, if you like.
But the return on over-processing flavors, because the name of the flavor gets clicks, is just not worth the investment. Are we even really tasting a pumpkin in the first place?
No. As it turns out, the only place pumpkin shows up in pumpkin spice is in the name. Yet, droves of people line up to buy it, imagining they are buying a celebratory fall pumpkin in a paper cup. Big Coffee knows our weaknesses, and we fall for it every year.
It's because we're moved by ideas, brand names, flavors and smells that draw on our emotions. We believe we're detecting pumpkins because we are impressionable.
To many of us, the release of pumpkin spice products signals that fall is coming, and fall is followed by Christmas, the perfect time to celebrate life by buying things that will get lost in a closet, and that is something we can't resist. This makes us think of good times – not as much the closet inventory, but the memories of fall and entering into the holidays.
There is a pumpkin spice war and we are the ones being invaded. Our impressionable nature is used against us time and time again, starting with deceptively named flavors, and in turn with deceptive political strategies, designed to make you think an irresistible ingredient exists, even when it shows up nowhere in the juice.
Some flavors you may recognize are Critical Race Theory, Election Fraud, and others. They signal that the midterms are coming, and you need to get crunk and get to the polls.
In Florida, Ron Desantis has started a culture war around social issues like abortion access, the content of education regarding race history, or topics relating to the gay and transgender members of our community. Just a couple of weeks ago ' his Lt. Governor says "Our students should go to school to learn their ABC's, not their LGBT’s,". The truth is, they need to learn the entire alphabet to operate in the real world.
Across the country, politicians are peddling election fraud. Bloomberg compiled a list of at least 254 political leaders including 20 Governors and 18 Senators who publicly backed Trump's claims of election fraud or made their own, yet for some strange reason, they were able to get elected themselves without disputing the results.
On the opposing side, Biden said in his recent prime-time speech to the nation said that the “Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans. And that is a threat to this country.” without noting that a "MAGA Republican" is not clearly defined except as something that polls well. Although it could probably be reasonable to assume that they have oversized white polos and red hats on, "Orange" is just not a clear enough description, even if it helps you pick them out of a crowd. But the statement triggers images of what we believe a MAGA republican is, and drives feet to the voting booth.
It Polls Well.
The flavor profile that does well in the polls and stirs up the most anger is the feature flavor of each stump speech and campaign commercial. We can't resist it, but on the inside, we all know we would prefer to have just a good cup of black coffee. One that gets the job done. A flavor that is good all year. But the politicians know they can't get us to vote for them unless they can get us to vote against someone else. By marketing an ingredient, in their enemies, that we will go to war against, and in them, one that will deliver us from evil, while reminding us of the good times.
But what we really need is someone who will go into public service, and work with others in public service while working for the people that put them in office. Someone who will make sure our policies serve the most people, protect the most rights, and create the most economic opportunity. We want someone who will work on developing policies that will work for us and won't eventually give us diabetes.