It happens every year. Early August rolls around, we’re still deep in the throes of summer, and the onslaught of fall begins, particularly at the grocery store. It was literally just Independence Day and already brands are bombarding us with pumpkin spice this and Halloween that. I’m still at the beach every weekend, my dudes. I’m not exactly craving mulled wine and apple cider doughnuts by the fire.
Sure, it can all seem a little seasonally inappropriate and premature—like brands are shaving perfectly good months off of the year and ultimately ushering us to an early grave in the name of consumerism—but sometimes the exasperation can be a bit much. People get pissed when fall starts horning in on summer—and don’t even get them started on “Christmas creep,” the persistent lengthening of the winter holiday season, which I’m pretty sure begins around Labor Day at this point. A recent headline in the trade publication Restaurant Business declared “Pumpkin Spice Season Gets Off to an Earlier Start Every Year,” explaining how brands like 7-Eleven launched their fall-flavored lines as early as August 5 to get out ahead of Starbucks. Here at Sporked, we’ve been coving fall grocery releases since August 4.
Seasonal creep is real, but you won’t see me complaining. Here are some reasons I think the hate is overblown.
Late summer is the absolute worst time of year.
The official first day of fall is September 22, but here in Southern California, the weather doesn’t get the memo until early November at best. Our late summer is particularly long and gross, but late summer is pretty unpleasant lots of places in the U.S.—and not even just in terms of weather. The biggest event is back to school, i.e. when all of the beach chairs and pool toys shaped like unicorns and flamingos are hastily replaced with notebooks, folders, and plastic pencil cases at your local Target. Pumpkin spice is like a salve for our sweaty souls during this terrible timeframe.
I lived in Chicago for several years and I certainly do understand wanting to put off the arrival of the interminable winter as long as possible, but the changing of seasons—even if the change is a human-made construct consisting of orange-and-red window displays and cinnamon-scented candle stink wafting through the air—is one of the few things we have to break up the monotony of adult life. Sad but true!
Seasonal foods are delicious and it’s fun for them to be around longer.
Okay. The “pumpkin spice” flavor profile may be played out (not to mention that it usually has nothing to do with pumpkin), but there are other good seasonal flavors at the grocery store that you’re probably into. And isn’t it fun for those products to be around for a few months rather than a few weeks? The grocery store is about to be a damn seasonal wonderland through early January. First we get apple cider doughnuts, caramel apple kits, and a produce section full of every cultivar of apple you can imagine. Then we get peppermint sandwich cookies (please bring back Peppermint Bark Oreos, you monsters), gingerbread-flavored coffee creamers, and hot cocoa-flavored whipped cream. I’m also compelled to point out that fall and winter are cinnamon broom season at the grocery store—and, truly, who doesn’t love when your local Ralphs suddenly smells like a cozy mountain cabin.
If it’s early every year, eventually early is right on time.
Seasonal creep is a super familiar concept at this point. Unless you’ve been in a coma since the early ’00s, you’re used to Autumn in August and Winter in October. It’s not a trend that’s going to suddenly reverse itself. Resistance is futile! Break out the decorative gourds and go with it.