Who in the fuck first opened Pandora's Box and began the walking fever dream that is our reality post the invention of "pumpkin spice"?
Can we push off the blame on the so-called "basic bitches"? How about the soulless food-marketing firms? Maybe this nation of ours is just riddled with clandestine Yankee candle enthusiasts?
READ: Fuck Pumpkin Spice
Whatever the case, fall is quickly approaching, and with it comes an unending wave of all things pumpkin spice. According to Nielsen data, an "invasion of pumpkin" is happening in a grocery aisle near you. As Nielsen puts it, "These days there isn't a pumpkin-flavored product US consumers aren't willing to try."
It's just that no one is eating any actual pumpkins.
Pumpkin spice hummus? Check. Pumpkin oral care? Yup. Pumpkin dog food? Gotcha covered. (Is it fair to assume that the technological singularity will start the day science invents a pumpkin-spice-flavored pumpkin?)
Last year, 37 percent of US consumers purchased a pumpkin-flavored product. This amounted to $361 million in pumpkin-flavored product sales last year alone, with the industry having grown 79 percent since 2011.
What dominates the faux-pumpkin market? Pumpkin pie filling, at $135 million in sales last year. Pumpkin bread, pies, and baked goods also do pretty damn good business too.
But why be traditional? A company named Fruitables is selling pumpkin- and cranberry-flavored dog treats. Pumpkin-flavored dog food sold over $12 million in product last year. And who doesn't want to brush their teeth with a product flavored with the delightfully plastic taste of artificial pumpkin? Evidently people (aka Cylons) do! Oral hygiene and gum products made off with about $1.04 million and $970,000, respectively.
That's a lot of pumpkin flavoring. Not much pumpkin itself, though.
Sales of fresh pumpkins are down, with by-unit sale losses of pumpkin reported in 2011, 2013, and 2014. Millions of fewer pumpkins are being sold each year. How can this be?
Americans, evidently, just don't want the real thing. Give us the flavored products. Nielsen says, "The continual uptick in demand for pumpkin-flavored products means classic and innovative pumpkin-flavored items will likely continue to occupy store shelves into the fall season and through Christmas."
Aaahh, Christmas. Then it will be time to bring on the praline, toffee, and chestnut … flavoring, that is.