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Opinion: Yes, I am basic

Pumpkins are pictured in a field in Germany.
Christof Stache
/
AFP via Getty Images
Pumpkins are pictured in a field in Germany.

I like Pumpkin Spice. There, I've said it. Have at me.

In this season, the scent of Pumpkin Spice seems to hang o'er the land. Pumpkin Spice lattes, of course. But also: Pumpkin Spice lip balm, nut butter, ale, and Spam — I'm not making that up — Pumpkin Spice tea, Twinkies, popcorn, protein powder, bone broth, and Pumpkin Spice dog treats.

Why shouldn't your dog share some autumnal cheer?

Pumpkin Spice inspires much disdain. The late Anthony Bourdain memorably told a Reddit Ask Me Anything forum in 2016, "I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood."

We asked Simon Schama, the great British historian and essayist, his opinion of Pumpkin Spice. This heralded chronicler of human events, arts, and achievements told us, "It's an abomination. 'Pumpkin spice' means the stuff you have to add to pumpkins to make them taste of something, which in turn is an icky, nausea-inducing nasal stew of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and brown sugar. It is meant to bring on a spell of autumnal coziness, as the darkness draws in and the mercury drops, but it's really part of the thumb-sucking, blanket-hugging, Cinnabon-ing, infantilization of America from which, these days, limitless treasures are to be mined."

I cannot dispute such eloquent condemnation. But I no longer suck my thumb.

So, when leaves turn gold, red, and crunchy, I light a Pumpkin Spice candle, I brew a pot of Pumpkin Spice coffee, and douse my hands with Pumpkin Spice soap. My family restrains me in the aisles of grocery stores, lest I sneak Pumpkin Spice cream cheese, yogurt, or Cheerios into our cart. Our daughters get on the loudspeaker: "You, over in Aisle 4! Put down that Pumpkin Spice mochi!"

I know the Pumpkin Spice flavor is contrived and ridiculous. I don't care. I imagine a group of marketing executives, laughing in some subterranean lair. "Pumpkin Spice hummus!" they'd exclaim. "How ludicrous! Who'd ever fall for that?" Then a research scientist points to a screen of statistics. "Don't fret," he tells them. "Some guy from Chicago will buy it by the tub."

I don't crave Pumpkin Spice in the swelter of summer. But this time of year, Pumpkin Spice is my blankie, my bunny slippers, my reruns of the Great British Baking Show.

And in my time left over, I also watch cute animal videos.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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