By Abigail Kim
It’s officially fall. However, in California, it’s not the excessive heat warnings or the evergreen palm trees that let you know the season is upon us, but rather the plethora of pumpkin products that appear in every store.
Americans have commercialized pumpkins so much that they are one of the first things that people associate the fall season. Whatever happened to apple picking, visiting corn mazes, cozy sweaters, or even the classic scarecrow? Why pumpkins?
It’s not just the insufferable overly strong smell of pumpkin spice that makes me nauseous, but the fact that companies infiltrate the weirdest products with pumpkin flavors or scents.
Case in point, pumpkin spice Spam exists, as if the original gelatinous canned meat weren’t disgusting enough. Americans have also created pumpkin spice Cup Noodles, hummus, gum, Jell-o, Pringles, weed killer, toothpaste, bologna, etc. Not even our pets can escape the season unscathed as there are pumpkin spice dog treats and dental chews.
We are past the point when we need to ask ourselves, have we gone too far?
America sells around 138,000 kinds of pumpkin products, including our dear old Spam, according to the Guardian. During 2022, Americans purchased over $236 million dollars in pumpkin products according to the market research firm, Nielsen IQ.
Even though pumpkins are available in many places throughout the world, the obsession seems to be limited to only Americans and some Canadians.
But why are Americans so pumpkin-crazed?
According to John Hopkin researchers, artificial pumpkin’s powerful aroma stimulates cozy and familiar memories such as Thanksgiving, playing in the leaves, sweater weather, and pumpkin farming.
At least in California, our obsession could stem from the fact that we don’t really have a fall season. Pumpkin spice is just something we use to fill the void where fall is supposed to be. But that doesn’t mean we need 138,000 varieties of pumpkin products.