In 2013, Americans spent $308 million on pumpkin flavored products, according to a Dec. 2014 Vox.com article. They bought pumpkin beer, candles, air fresheners, cakes, candies and most famously, lattes.
Senior Sara Harrison, who previously worked at the Dunkin Donuts in Poultney, knows all about the excitement some people feel for this interesting season.
“I once had a grown man literally scream with joy when I told him pumpkin was back,” Harrison said. “They actually ran out at the Dunkin I worked at for a couple weeks and people would leave when I told them I didn’t have pumpkin.”
Although this craze has spread nation-wide, many Castleton students find it unappealing.
“It’s like someone took the smell of a cinnamon candle and then mixed it with dirt, and then forced me to drink it,” said senior Patrick Cote-Abel.
“Pumpkin spice is probably the worst flavor or scent that has become popular in the last 10 years,” said freshman Lee Richardson.
Junior Christian Procida had never had pumpkin spice before he was interviewed for a segment on the Castleton Video Magazine. His response was less than enthusiastic.
“No. There’s no way. It’s always a bad time for pumpkin spice,” Procida said after tasting a pumpkin spice flavored iced coffee for the first time.
Some students prefer other seasonal flavors over the popular pumpkin.
“I go to Dunkin Donuts all the time, but I like the salted caramel hot chocolate, but every time there’s someone else there it’s always something pumpkin spice they get this time of year,” said junior William Chmielewski
Not all of Castleton is immune to the pumpkin obsession, however.
“We should have pumpkin spice everything, even in July,” said senior Allie Dwinell.
“When pumpkin spice comes out at Dunkin, it’s probably my favorite time of year besides Christmas,” said junior LeeAnn Senecal. “My favorite is definitely pumpkin spice coffee and my grandma’s homemade pumpkin spice donuts.”
Others prefer their pumpkin in scent form.
“My roommate has made our room smell like pumpkin spice,” said junior Tony Sawyer. “I have had a pumpkin spice tea I liked, but it’s a horrible craze.”
So what is in this magical pumpkin creation? No pumpkin at all really.
Pumpkin spice products are usually seasoned with a mix of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice: ingredients available all year long. According to the Vox.com article, the excitement is brought on by the fact that the products are only offered seasonally and are promoted as major events.
A Fortune.com article from Sep. 2014 notes that pumpkin pie is the second most consumed pie in the U.S., even though it is only consumed a few days a year. This scarcity gives consumers the illusion that pumpkin flavor is a fleeting indulgence and also has the ability to bring people back to memories of family and happiness.
Studies by Alan Hirsch of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation have shown that pumpkin might also be an aphrodisiac.
“In one of his studies, he looked at the effects of 30 different scents on the sexual arousal of 31 male volunteers. He found that the scent causing the highest level of arousal was a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie,” according to the Fortune.com article.
Whether people love it or hate it, sales of pumpkin spice items have only increased since the birth of Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte in 2003 and regardless of Castleton students’ opinions, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.