And now for an opinion about fall and Halloween that differs from mine, and is therefore wrong. Tony Cesare, ladies and gentlemen:
I promise you the Native Americans who first introduced the pumpkin to the pilgrims had no idea they had unwittingly created the annual ‘Marketing Cult of All Things Artificially Spiced Gourd’. If they had they would have fashioned catapults out of maize stalks and driven back the Mayflower by serving the first Thanksgiving dinner via aerial assault. They could have avoided syphilis as well.
Pumpkin Lattés, Pumpkin Burgers, Pumpkin Vodka, Pumpkin Spice Fettuccine with Alfredo Pumpkin cheese sauce topped with roast pumpkin seeds and diced Pumpkinspam. It’s Pumpkinsanity. The Pumpkin flavor trend has jumped the tracks doing 90 and barreled right through the autumn station platform scattering all of us into a sepia pool of nutmeg tinged flavor profiles that have no rightful business existing in the natural world. It’s only a matter of time before the pharmaceutical industry catches on and Pumpkin Spice Cialis commercials debut with his and her gourd shaped bathtubs topped with creamy dollops of..nevermind.
I’ve always regarded fall with equal parts melancholy and dread. I blame my mom. When I was nine we carved a jumbo sized Halloween pumpkin and she roasted the seeds for a seasonal snack. I ate an entire cookie sheet worth of them and subsequently got sick as a goat eating trash from a dumpster behind a slaughterhouse-in July. I’ve never been able to look at a Jack O Lantern the same way again.
I have this recurring nightmare all through the month of October where I find myself paralyzed upright and drawn by some unseen force to a windswept cliff, forced to stare down into winter’s inky void. Just then a scarecrow shuffles over (scarecrows rank just above clowns and Rankin/Bass animation in my ‘shit the gives me nightmares’ list..) and shoves a straw foot into my ass and sends me screaming over the edge into an endless November.
But to a marketer Fall is a rusty hued dream. The moment the calendar flips to September 1st the ‘back to school’ ads that have been running non-stop since May are shoved aside by consumer’s irrational desire to shell out 6 bucks a pop for Pumpkin Latté at Starbucks, which to me is definitive proof that the dwindling chlorophyll in trees also induces temporary bouts of madness in people.
How else can you explain Pumpkin Spice Coffeemate? My coffee doesn’t need a mate, it lives alone in a two bedroom ranch with six cats and eats single serve frozen dinners every night and contrary to what its mother thinks it’s quite happy so stop asking it when it will meet a nice seasonally flavored milk substitute and settle down.
Don’t get me wrong, I generally like winter squash (I make a killer Butternut Squash Risotto) but when Pringles comes out with a Pumpkin Potato Chip you just know this shit has gone to far. Putting pumpkin ‘flavor’ in everything from pizza to cat food is like piling your kids into the mini van for the annual three hour trek across nowhere to a ‘farm’ for apple picking, petting zoos and hay rides-it sounds like a much better idea than it actually is.
So this year let’s stop the seasonal spread of Pumpkin flavor madness while we still can. I shudder to think of what will be the next fall themed gastro-blasphemy.
(editor’s note: here, Tony.)
About the guest blogger:
Unlike Susie from the South, Tony is a true blueblood Northern D-Grovian and therefore thinks he’s more worldly and affluent, even if his aging home and used car say otherwise. In the next life he plans to come back as the reincarnation of Sammy Johns and play ‘Chevy Van’ on the festival circuit every night.