Harris Blackwood: Entering the season now known as pumpkin spice

We have turned another page on the calendar and are now in the season of pumpkin spice. I’m not quite sure of the genesis of pumpkin spice. Some point to Starbucks, who introduced it into a latte in the first decade of this century. We are still trying to figure out what to call that, the zeros, “the oughts” or something like that.

Wherever it started, there are now more than 100 various items that contain pumpkin spice flavoring, ranging from cream cheese to vodka. It is often marketed with salted caramel, another one of those seasonal flavors.

Alone, a pumpkin really doesn’t have a spicy flavor. The added flavor usually includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Allspice comes from a tree of the myrtle family. In some circles, it is referred to as pimenta. 

So the pumpkin has little to do with pumpkin spice. I think the gurus add a golden brown coloring to make us think it came from a pumpkin. You can buy pumpkin spice already put together.

In researching this column, I found bread that contains pumpkin spice. There is even a paint color that is called pumpkin spice.

In full disclosure, I am not a coffee drinker. Just never developed a taste for it. I could go the rest of my life and never darken the door of a Starbucks and would be fine. I’ve never had a latte, frappuccino or espresso, with or without pumpkin spice. 

In the time of my life when I was engaged in carving pumpkins, I never did anything with the meat of the pumpkin. If I wanted to consumer an orange vegetable, it would be a sweet potato.

I remember tasting the pumpkin as a kid. I worried about swallowing the seeds, because kids told each other that a pumpkin would grow inside you. Ditto for watermelons. Although I am a bit on the round side, I am certain that it is not a result of pumpkin or watermelon growing inside me.

I used to make a pot of hot apple cider and add just a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg for a little kick. The difference between pumpkin spice and apple cider is there is actually apple in apple cider.

But this pumpkin thing just went crazy.

When we travel, my wife likes to look in little stores that sell handcrafted little do-dads. Somebody’s grandma in North Carolina handcrafted some of them, while others were handcrafted by people overseas. I like that term overseas, because it gives you a lot of latitude. If my mama didn’t know where some place was, she would call it overseas. I bought her explanation.

I digress.

These little do-dad stores are ripe with pumpkin spice at this time of year. They have pumpkin spice candles. If you do not consume enough pumpkin spice to make what comes out of you smell accordingly, you can buy some spray stuff that will make your powder room smell extra pumpkin spicy.

So, there you have it, my take on pumpkin spice. I’m not against it and if you like it, that’s great. I’m just predicting that it may go the way of the “Baby on Board” signs of a generation ago. Guess those babies are now drinking pumpkin spice?

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page.

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