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After spending years being served in college campus coffee shops, lending its aroma to soaps made by empty nesters with Etsy shops, and taking whatever odd pie jobs it could get, pumpkin spice had finally made it to the top. For the entirety of October, pumpkin spice was all the rage in Starbucks lattes, post-poop Febreezed bathrooms, and social media feeds. Pumpkin spice reveled in its long-awaited mainstream acceptance, but it was entirely unprepared for the powerful enemies it would make as a result of its commercial success: the trio of Christmas flavors.

Peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread have been holiday favorites for years, because they destroy any flavor or scent that threatens their position of prominence. Have you ever heard of patchouli? Well, back in the early 2000s, patchouli was positioning itself to join forces with pine to become Glade’s newest air freshener offering, but peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread wouldn’t let that happen. After an intense smear campaign that criticized patchouli’s ties to the hipster community, overambitious patchouli was relegated to the potpourri circuit, destined to rest on toilet tanks for the rest of its days.

When this holiday trinity heard rumors about up-and-comer pumpkin spice, they weren’t concerned. They knew pumpkin is a polarizing flavor, and they were confident the rejection pumpkin spice would endure would make it realize its rightful place: smothered under whipped cream in a pie. Besides, it can take years for a flavor/scent to become a beloved seasonal favorite, and pumpkin spice was no imminent threat. Peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread underestimated pumpkin spice’s appeal and zeal.

Before you rally against this tyrannical threesome know that, like most bullies, their actions are entirely the result of insecurity…

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You see, there was a time where peppermints were only welcome in the crammed in the pockets and purses of grandmothers, stuffed next to used Kleenex and eye drops, in oft-overlooked bowls at the hostess stations of restaurants, or in the board game Candyland. It was only until one peppermint-loving candy maker (who was actually designing holiday costume options for Mr. Peanut, FYI) created the candy cane that ol’ peppermint became a versatile, timeless treat. Eggnog has a similar tough background.

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Eggnog’s entire existence is owed to a desperate accident, much like most children conceived in the Las Vegas city limits. Back in Medieval Europe, before people knew anything about taste buds or pasteurization, it seemed like a great idea to combine milk, sugar, eggs, and nog in one beverage. It wasn’t until one miserable young man at a holiday family gathering thought, “Only booze could make this dairy shit taste good,” that eggnog secured its place at every awkward Christmas dinner. Let’s not forget about what Gingerbread’s endured…

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Gingerbread had a bad reputation because of ginger ale. For a long time, people associated this flavorful treat with tummy aches. As with most intimidating house spiders, it took a man to solve this problem: a gingerbread man. After years of plain sugar cookies cutout into little handless, impotent man shapes, outsider gingerbread became the new default for man cookies. These days, gingerbread finally gets the respect it deserves. As of 2012, 99.3% of edible holiday houses are made with gingerbread.

Success and approval have been a long time coming for peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread, and they’ve paid their dues. After witnessing how quickly pumpkin spice has gotten popular in their key demographic of people aged 18-34, they started spreading rumors and turning pumpkin spice’s own friends against him.

Happier times.Image Source
Happier times.
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It’s a quietly accepted fact in the spice community that pumpkin spice and cinnamon have been romantically involved for decades. They first met in the kitchen when they were both included in a pumpkin pie recipe. Since that time, they’ve collaborated on countless autumn desserts, and they complement each other perfectly—both in the oven and on the spice rack, but cinnamon’s always feared pumpkin spice has been carrying a flame for ginger.

Ginger has been in gingerbread’s pocket since he became an established flavor, and it wasn’t long before gingerbread called for a favor. In a scandal that rocked the cabinets, ginger came forward alleging that she and pumpkin spice had been carrying on an affair since 1998. Cinnamon, long considered the noblest of spices, was devastated, despite pumpkin spice’s desperate assertions that ginger wasn’t telling the truth.

Adding to pumpkin spice’s disgrace is his newfound homelessness. Pumpkin spice enjoyed a cozy spot on the spice rack next to nutmeg, an old-timer that’s all too familiar with the harassment of peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread. Nutmeg did his best to look out for pumpkin spice, until peppermint and eggnog came around one day. They threatened to make nutmeg their next target, intimating that nutmeg would lose its place as the “secret ingredient” in every baked good. Desperate to hang onto what little use he has, nutmeg had to channel Brutus and turn his back on his friend.

Once Thanksgiving passes, pumpkin spice’s season will officially be over. A spice that was once on top of the world has become a struggling exiled flavor thanks to peppermint, eggnog, and gingerbread. It’ll be interesting to see if this change in circumstances will affect pumpkin spice’s success next fall…

Don’t underestimate the Christmas flavors.

34 thoughts on “The Cutthroat Arena of Seasonal Flavors

  1. I actually order Pumpkin Spice after Thanksgiving. They actually carry the supplies in their store through the Christmas season. I’ve even ordered it into January, I guess some people just think when its done being advertised its done, but this is not the case. They will keep making it until they run out of supplies for it. And now everyone will continue to order it…and there will be less for me. You’re welcome. Lol.

    1. Yeah, but I can only imagine that because you don’t hear about it as much, sales drop off significantly. Prior to the last few years, I’d never even heard of pumpkin spice before.

  2. Also did you see they have a new holiday flavor this year? Chestnut Praline. I haven’t tried it but I don’t care for their hot coffee much. I’m more of a Hot Chocolate or Frappacino kinda gal.

      1. They are gross. I ended up with a Toffee Nut once because they had run out of Gingerbread syrup. It was a yucky, never to be repeated experience.

  3. I am DYING. This is actually killing me. Like I snorted out loud about 10 times while reading this… I think my coworkers may think I have some sort of severe upper respiratory infection now.

    Haha but I am so over pumpkin spice. Those PSLs? Never got the hype. I like a loaf (or three) of pumpkin bread each fall and I’m good. Although eggnog, peppermint, and gingerbread aren’t exactly my favorites either… Oh well, guess I’ll just have to subsist wholly off Reese’s PB Christmas Trees again this year!

    1. I love pumpkin, but I don’t drink coffee, so the PSLs do nothing for me. It’s weird how pumpkin can flavor things so deliciously, but it tastes disgusting on its own. I just want all the gingerbread cookies.

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