The Pumpkin Spice Economy
For many years, my Mom would grouse like clockwork over the commercialization of the holidays. True in my home town, Christmas decorations would adorn our downtown, first after Thanksgiving, then before Thanksgiving, then early November, then before Halloween, and finally before Columbus Day. It does make you wonder why they don’t leave them up all year, perhaps taking their inspiration from singer-songwriter John Prine who was famous for leaving his Christmas tree up all year.
There is a real difference here. On the one hand, we have a recording artist and ace singer-songwriter expressing gratitude, and perhaps a bit of kitsch, and on the other hand, we have the over-commercialization of what is not only a very lovely time to be with family and friends, but also a time for joy and to renew our spiritual connections, sharing light amidst winter’s dark days. For me, it starts with Halloween, a holiday devoted to sweets, pranks (hopefully benign), and dressing up so you can be whoever you want to be, a very nice concept indeed, with pumpkins abounding.
On to Trader Joe’s for a look into pumpkin products and the Pumpkin Spice Economy. I have posted for many years of my unbridled love for Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake Mix. This year, it was hard to find. In past years, I would buy two or three boxes at a time, salting them away, opening my last box in April with the start of the baseball season. Pumpkin spice is not only delicious it also reminds us that pumpkin, like most orange-colored foods, is a superfood, both nutritious and delicious. Could it be that a food reminiscent of the sun setting over the beach or mountains proves that we are organically drawn to relieve seasonal depression?
Thankfully, I did find TJ’s Pumpkin Bread Mix, but sadly the only pumpkin pancake mix I could find was gluten-free, which actually looks quite good. Several years back, I lobbied Trader Joe’s to please bring in some horseradish-based items. Horseradish, like many winter root vegetables, is craved by the body as the winter solstice approaches and through the dark months. For me, horseradish is a tonic for my inflamed sinuses and a general, metabolic tonic. Trader Joe’s began to stock horseradish hummus and a horseradish-dressing sauce for roasted meats or vegetables, both delicious, and sadly both no longer stocked. Ask for it!
I have several friends and neighbors who swore by TJ’s horseradish hummus, so possibly its low sales numbers were due to the poor merchandising of the hummus offerings. I often had to dig through regular hummus, garlic hummus, and basil hummus in search of horseradish hummus. But was just through that digging that I hit pay dirt. I passed on the chocolate hummus and had to laugh when I found myself eyeing pumpkin spice hummus. I picked up a couple of these and tried it with both roasted and blanched vegetables – kind of sweet but very tasty – and that gave me an idea. I picked up a ready-baked pie crust, et voila, I had a great no-bake pumpkin pie!
A quick scan of pumpkin spice numbers on the WWW yielded these numbers, all prepandemic. According to Nielsen, consumers spent about one-half-billion dollars on pumpkin spice products in 2019. Yahoo Finance reports that you can get pumpkin spice chips, beverages, baked goods, Bud Light, and even Pumpkin Spice Cup Noodles. So indulge whether you are roasting a whole pumpkin to be enjoyed in a vegan feast, or if you are online at McD’s for your pumpkin spice latte, enjoy. Pumpkin spice will get you through these dark days. Happy Holidays to All!
All the best,