A Lesson Learned from Pumpkin Spice

When my younger brother was in kindergarten, his teacher told the class that before deciding to dislike a particular food, you have to try it seven times. Now, my brother had a toy bow and arrow set– his prized possession that kept him perpetually armed throughout the house.

One day, as I walked into the kitchen I was suddenly ambushed by a hailstorm of plastic suction cup arrows. Needless to say, I wasn’t overly amused. Being the patient older sister that I am, I snapped at him, “Stop! I don’t like that.” He folded his arms in front of him, replying indignantly, “My teacher said you have to try something seven times to say you don’t like it."

While that comical story has been passed around our family ever since, I think my brother may have been on to something. Though I was quite certain in my displeasure toward becoming a human shooting target, I do think this lesson is applicable to many life encounters; it’s important not to write things off the first time they occur, whether that decision is based on a reputation alone or a result of misjudgement. Most things deserve to be given fair consideration, although admittedly, this is something I’m not always good at.

When the explosion of pumpkin spice hit coffee shops a few years ago, I was part of the large group of people who mocked it mercilessly. It seemed like yet another gimmick to promote an obsession with overpriced coffee and mediocre pastries, as well as a sad attempt at making ourselves feel better about the end of t-shirt season.

While I worked in a coffee shop during the last few years of high school, September to November seemed to be the peak of the pumpkin spice craze. During this time, the shop drew crowds in numbers that seemed disproportionate to our small town. I just couldn’t understand the appeal; what was the point of worshipping the ground pumpkins grew on the moment we caught the faintest whiff of October? It had to have been bandwagoning– either that or your classic case of “aesthetic-Instagram syndrome”.

I didn’t want to be a part of that, just another stereotypical “basic” teenage girl– the one with skewed priorities who only knew the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana as pretty designs on fake “vintage” t-shirts. Somehow, pumpkin spice had appeared to become the face to all of that, merely an easy alternative for all of us who felt too cool to buy into what was popular.

So, when my mum brought home a jar of pumpkin spice from the grocery store, I couldn’t believe it. I shook my head at it for the entire week that it sat in the cupboard, utterly convinced I was going to hate it. When I did eventually take a sip of my sister’s pumpkin spice latte– against all odds, against every preconceived notion I had constructed against it– it was actually… good. Really good.

It was warm and cinnamon-y and tasted like scarf-wrapped long walks along paths sheltered by yellow trees. If I was honest, there was really nothing not to like about it. I had been so set on not enjoying this beloved product that I hadn’t even considered why it may have become so popular in the first place.

I'm now a proud pumpkin spice convert, enjoying it liberally on apple slices and in drinks, pastries– you name it. As summer transforms to fall each year,  I look forward to indulging in my obsession and strolling down the street with a pink nose, while my hands are wrapped around a warm drink. So go ahead, call me “basic”, or tell me that I’m just jumping on the bandwagon; but I must say, this bandwagon is shaped like a freshly baked pumpkin-spice-walnut muffin and I am A-OK with that.

If what you took from this is a new appreciation for pumpkin spice, then I’m glad to have convinced you. What I really hope you gained from this is the importance of giving things a chance. Even if you consider yourself to be open minded, recognize that there are always aspects of life we tend to approach with a skeptical attitude. Next time you find yourself in a new experience and rolling your eyes or wrinkling your nose, maybe give it one more shot; you never know, you may just find yourself enjoying it.