Does pumpkin spice taste nasty or nice?


Caitlin Kennedy

A short walk down the road at Safeway, The Patriot was able to collect a multitude of pumpkin spice products in a matter of minutes. They ranged from ordinary, like pumpkin spice cookie mix, to bizarre, such as pumpkin spice almonds and whipped cream.

Sophomore Nikolas Mucha scrolls through his Instagram. Looking down at his phone, he sees picture after picture of Starbucks cups. He realizes that the Pumpkin Spice Latte has returned, signaling the start of the fall season, and he is immediately overcome with joy. He rushes to his feet and hurries to the nearest coffee shop to get his taste of the pumpkin spice latte.

In recent years, the pumpkin spice mania has grown. Though pumpkin spice started as a trend in coffee, as popularized by Starbucks, it has branched out into an obsession. Walking through the grocery store, it is impossible not to come across a plethora of pumpkin spice products in every aisle.

Although the overabundance of pumpkin spice products communicates that everyone loves it, this trend isn’t necessarily as popular as it is made out to be.

While social media is filled with coffee cups celebrating “pumpkin spice season,” and stores are filled with pumpkin spice merchandise, many people don’t enjoy the flavor. “I hate pumpkin spice everything. I only eat a slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and even that’s just to be polite,” Spanish teacher Jane Michael said.

According to the Nielson Company, a company that measures followings of trends, pumpkin products made a total of $1.14 billion last year alone. So what’s the obsession with pumpkin spice? Is it truly the pumpkin in the products, or is it some other ingredient?

Senior Caitlyn Trent drinks pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, but she only started drinking them because of their influential social media presence and their popularity at Starbucks. “I don’t get them a lot, I only tried them because of everyone’s obsession with them.  Everyone was like ‘Oh my gosh!’ so I said I would try it and it actually wasn’t that bad. However, I don’t think it lives up to the expectation that everyone has created,” Trent said.

While Trent believes that the drink’s social media presence has more to do with its popularity than the actual pumpkin flavor, CNN claims the scent of pumpkin spice triggers a nostalgic reaction, which makes it appealing.

CNN also stated that homemade pumpkin spice products are usually crafted with natural spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Many artificial pumpkin spice products seen at the grocery store are made using synthetic ingredients, but have the same smells in order to trick your brain into sensing that same nostalgic feeling.

According to Casey Cortz, a barista at Coffee Coffee in Bel Air, the employees use pumpkin spice syrup in their products, not actual pumpkin. Though they sometimes make this syrup themselves, they mostly use a product from the brand Monin.

Cortz agrees with the information given by CNN and thinks that people are obsessed with pumpkin spice products because of the sentimental feeling that comes with them. “People love the idea of pumpkins and how they make you feel. I feel like they remind everyone of fall and give you a nostalgic feeling,” she said.

She also noted the popularity of pumpkin spice products. “As soon as we release the pumpkin spice flavors, they sell like crazy. People love the multiple fall drinks we have,” she said.

A big factor working against the pumpkin spice craze is what’s become known as the “pumpkin spice tax.” According to a finance news source called MagnifyMoney, pumpkin spice products cost 8 percent more than the same products with different flavoring. However, Coffee Coffee does not follow this trend. According to Cortz, their pumpkin spice costs the same as their normally flavored products. When the Patriot visited the local Safeway, this was found to be largely true, as the pumpkin spice whipped cream and coffee were priced higher than their unflavored counterparts.

With the pumpkin’s strong presence on every social media platform, along with its ability to trick the body into a nostalgic state, it is hard to determine whether or not the obsession comes from the media or from the pumpkin spice itself.

Olivia Collins is a Community Editor and Caitlin Kennedy is an Entertainment Editor for the Patriot and