How Pumpkin Spice Became a Staple of Fall

todayOctober 6, 2021 74 1 1

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By Preethi Mangadu
Web Content Contributor

Pumpkin spice is a staple for the fall season. Specifically, it was largely popularized in 2003 when Starbucks released its iconic seasonal drink, pumpkin spice lattes. Since then, pumpkin spice has been integrated into everything from candles to even pickles. 

“Pumpkin spice is becoming a popular flavor in the American mainstream as it provides a picturesque flavor and/or scent for fall,” said senior Genevieve Hauer. “In a world that is constantly on the go, it would seem that pumpkin spice provides a utilitarian (albeit antithetical) manner in which to relax, slow down, and enjoy the warmth of life– all sold in a cup you can enjoy on the way to a busy day at work.”

However, it did not originate from the Americas. Pumpkin spice can actually be traced back to the Dutch East India Company in the early 17th century when the Dutch took over the Spice Islands in Southeast Asia. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace and cloves, all ingredients of pumpkin spice, originated there. 

The Dutch also created a blend of spices called speculaaskruiden, which was similar to pumpkin spice and used in many of Netherland’s desserts. Of course, as these spices were used more, they began to spread through the continents. 

Years later, specifically in 1791, a blend called “mixed spices” appeared in a book called The Practice of Cookery by Scottish author, Mrs. Frazer. This mix included nutmeg, cloves, and a “Jamaican pepper” thought to be allspice. 

A similar mix of nutmeg, mace, and ginger, was also found in the Americas in 1796 American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, the first known American cookbook. While Mrs. Frazer used the mix for mutton chops and flounder, Simmons used this mix for pumpkin pie. 

Though other countries had pumpkin pie recipes using a similar spice blend, the spice blend became closely associated with pumpkins in the Americas since pumpkins are regional to there. 

However, all these occurrences never labeled it as “pumpkin spice.” The first brand to do so was McCormick in 1934 when they came out with their “pumpkin pie spice.” Afterward, brands continued to make different forms of pumpkin pie spice and/or pumpkin spice blends or products continuously up to this day, making it the fall staple that it is, and many people love it. 

“Pumpkin spice has built its popularity due to both its unique flavor, as well as the warm, nostalgic, fall feeling it can bring,” said junior Amaya Lewis. “For me, my family loves all things pumpkin flavored and scented, making pumpkin spice a familiar and pleasant taste to me that I enjoy experiencing every fall.”

Featured Image by Preethi Mangadu 

Written by: ktsw899

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