Small Pumpkin In Hand

In defense of pumpkin spice

“Fall is my favorite season” a New-Englander said, surprising absolutely no one. It’s true that when Autumn rolls around each year, most East Coasters become their most powerful, fueled by cool weather and the fact that they get to live in the most beautiful corner of the United States (for at least two months). But they don’t let the chilly Autumn air fool them - as almost any New-Englander will tell you, there is no need to give up the beloved iced coffees just because it's below 30 degrees most mornings. Don’t worry - pumpkin spice is available in iced coffee, too.   

I’ve always considered pumpkin spice somewhat of a treat, like soft serve ice cream during the summer - it’s only available for a short period of time, so you might as well get it while you have the opportunity. Yet whenever I order a PSL, I also feel a weird sense of shame, as if I’m annoying the barista. She probably makes what feels like one million of these every day, in which case an eyeroll is totally appropriate. But most of what I’m feeling is related to the fact that I feel like I’m being unoriginal, like a 12-year-old girl who is trying coffee for the first time in her life and doesn’t know what to order so she picks something sweet and flavorful because her mom says she probably wouldn’t like the taste of regular coffee. Should I have chosen something more sophisticated? Should I have just ordered an Americano and not enjoyed myself? Am I ​basic? Did I make the right choice?

I forget about these questions once I take the first sip of my PSL. Yes, I made the right choice. Pumpkin spice lattés are good and no one can convince me otherwise.   

I’ve wondered before: why out of all the season drinks does pumpkin spice receives the most criticism? People don’t react this way toward hot chocolates in the winter or even apple cider, which in my opinion holds a stiff competition to the PSL in terms of fall beverages. So why are we not allowed to enjoy pumpkin spice?  

The first reason is because people don’t know how to mind their own business. People love to pick on pumpkin spice because its primary fanbase is young women. But picking on young women for the things that they enjoy is boring. It’s no surprise to anyone that women already have to deal with being shamed for nearly all of their interests. If you’re a woman who likes sports, you’re a phony. If you’re a woman who likes to watch makeup tutorials, you’re shallow and self-absorbed. Wait, you’re a woman that likes both?! Well I’m sorry, but that’s impossible because it does not fit into the one-dimensional concept of women that people have created in their minds.   Women already have to deal with so much. Please, let them drink their pumpkin spice lattés.  

The second reason is that people are afraid to enjoy things that are too popular. Maybe you really don’t like the taste of pumpkin spice. In which case, your opinion is wrong, but that’s fine. Anyone is totally free to silently hate pumpkin spice. But if you’re loud about hating pumpkin spice because you think it’s below you then you are part of the problem. For these people, pumpkin spice is kind of like the Arctic Monkeys. It may have been cool once, but then other people discovered it and now it’s not really that cool. But the bottom line is that it’s coffee, and it’s delicious. Plain coffee is pretty much as basic as you can get, and no one shames anyone for enjoying it. It’s popular for a reason.   

The third reason why I suspect many people are anti-PSL is because it signifies the end of summer and the beginning of the four to five month period of darkness (late fall to early winter). This is understandable for people who have a hard time adjusting to the cold or the shortened daylight hours. As a native New-Englander, I’m used to the cold but I still understand that some people absolutely despise it, and that’s okay. For these people, it’s not the drink itself or its fans that they dislike about Pumpkin Spice- it's the message it sends, something that some people are excited about but other people dread. Unfortunately, a pumpkin spice latté doesn’t make the cold months any shorter, it just ushers them in more quickly. However, there is no denying that Fall is here so pumpkin spice fans do their best to just enjoy it while they can.

In the end, complaining about pumpkin spice is boring and basically rooted in picking on women for the things they enjoy - it’s 2019, we should have moved past that stage by now. So let’s celebrate pumpkin spice for what it really is: a warm, delicious, sweet welcoming into Autumn.