The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

The Official Student News Media of Southeastern Louisiana University

The Lion's Roar

OPINION | Is the pumpkin spice craze valid?

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Yumi Domangue

Fall has officially begun and pumpkin spice mania is in full force. Whether you lean more toward the scent or the flavor, lovers of this seasonal concoction are now in their element, but is the craze valid?

The beloved pumpkin spice flavor was popularized by Starbucks when Peter Dukes, or “the father” of the pumpkin spice latte, was on the team tasked with figuring out the next fall drink to be released back in 2001 and by 2003 its official debut was made. Ever since then, Starbucks has launched the fall drink line up around the end of August each year and fans don’t hesitate to get their fix of pumpkin spice quickly.

According to NielsenIQ data, retail pumpkin spice products came out to be worth more than $802 billion in the year ending July 2023, making it a sales steamroller. 

I am an adept barista along with a devoted coffee drinker and I can admit the mixture of sweet pumpkin and spices goes melodically with the bitterness of espresso and cold brew if it is done correctly. 

Another big contributor to the hype over the flavor and scent for me is bringing that sense of fall atmosphere to Louisiana. The fall temperatures don’t drift in normally until November, which is late into the fall season. 

Having the option to enjoy something a little more on-season with my coffee gives some false hope that cool weather will begin sooner. 

The reasoning behind this association and obsession with pumpkin spice and fall goes a lot deeper than just people’s sensory preferences. 

According to writer Michele Debczak in a Mental Floss article, “When the sensory neurons in our nostrils pick up scent molecules, they process the physical components. This part of the brain analyzes smell and connects it to experiences we’ve had with similar scents in the past.” 

With most people associating fall with things such as pumpkin patches, football games and the food during the holidays, the positive connection between the season and the drink becomes undeniable and unbreakable. 

“​​When our brains fills in the gap between the smell beneath our nose and our past experiences, the result can be emotional. That’s why so many people are eager to try a pumpkin spice latte the moment the temperature drops,” Debczak said. 

Sean Caffery is a barista at the cherished coffee shop Luma Coffee Roasters located in downtown Hammond. 

Regarding the flavor, he said, “I think the pumpkin spice craze is understandable and valid. It’s a tasty treat to enjoy during fall.” 

Caffery added that while it does get a little old making the lattes, he loves it when people try a new flavor for their drink. 

While the drink is delicious, it is now considered to be a trendy cultural phenomenon with not only its popularity in taste but also the “white girl” lifestyle trope it has been given. 

Most contributing to this is the “Christian Girl Autumn,” meme, an encapsulation of the fall aesthetic taking the form of a white woman “obsessed” with the season and dressed appropriately so. 

The meme took the internet by storm back in 2019 and is still recirculated on social media apps today. Many retweets have been made since the original, now with more negative connotations toward the stereotype, such as being anti-LGBTQIA+

Caitlin Covington, the woman featured in the infamous photo, said that though she finds some of the lighter jokes surrounding the meme to be funny, they are not all accurate to who she actually is.

“That’s not me at all. I’m a nice person and I love everyone and I’m accepting of everyone,” Covington said.

I find the meme to be pretty funny in its attempt to make a mockery of this stereotype that people seem to be all too familiar with when fall rolls around, but the jokes can get a little out of hand. 

As a whole, I consider the acclaim of pumpkin spice to be in no way overrated and the jokes pertaining to it to be lighthearted, persistent with the fall season and genuinely comical.

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About the Contributors
Eva Saladino
Eva Saladino, Social Media/A&E Editor in Training
Eva Saladino is an English major with a concentration in creative writing. She has been a member of The Lion's Roar team since March of 2023 and works as a staff reporter. She hopes to have a children's book published after she graduates college and hopes to work as an environmental writer for the National Parks Magazine.
Yumi Domangue
Yumi Domangue, Graphics Editor
Yumi Domangue is a double major in mechatronics engineering technology and new media and animation. She joined Student Publications in the Fall of 2021 as a graphic designer. She intends to use her skills to have a career in design.
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