Pumkinization Of America Is Underway
First there were gourds. I spied a pyramid of those warty harbingers of fall in the produce section of my supermarket a couple of weeks ago. I averted my eyes.
Then I saw Halloween cards and a scarecrow diorama in my local Hallmark shop. (Hey, that’s the only place to buy tapers, don’t judge.) I stared in horror.
Starbucks is bringing back Pumpkin Spice Lattes - the infamous PSLs - NEXT TUESDAY. A full week earlier than last year.
Pumpkins? In August? C’mon, Starbucks. The orbs in the field aren’t even ripe.
Maybe leaves are changing color where you live: Hello Mt. Vernon, Maine where we have two followers, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where we have one.
But here in the American South it isn’t even close to autumn. Temperatures are in the high-80s. Humidity leaves our hair looking like toilet brushes, mosquitoes feast on our flesh and we’re still slathered in SPF 30. Will be until October.
We’re a good six weeks away from the drop dead date when most of us switch from iced lattes to hot ones.
What we’re witnessing has been called the Pumpkinization of America. Pumpkin-spiced products saturating the market. Earlier and earlier each year. The newest product is Kellogg's Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes, which will be unleashed on America in early September.
This all started when Starbucks unveiled its addictive Pumpkin Spice Latte in the fall of 2003. The drink was an immediate hit. The fact that a venti PSL with whole milk and whipped cream has more than 500 calories deterred few.
It’s the scarcity principle at work. The pumpkin-laced beverages are offered on a limited-time only basis - like Girl Scout cookies - creating a thirsty market. As a result, coffee drinkers swill about $100 million worth of the lattes each season, even though the beverages bear almost no resemblance to actual coffee.
Emboldened by its PSL success, Starbucks actually launched a secret society to celebrate autumn and shrink summer. Don't take my word for it. Visit the company's Leaf Rakers Society on Facebook. On second thought, don't. It's depressing. The page has 21,061 members. All celebrating what some of us think of as winter's waiting room.
"This group serves as a forum where we constructively work together with Mother Nature to help Autumn arrive earlier in the calendar year," the Leaf Rakers say. "Maybe we can get rid of August."
Get rid of August. There you have it. Starbucks' mission is to leapfrog from July to September.
And this is how it begins. With pre-Labor Day Pumpkin Spice Lattes. You've been warned.