GOOD

Pumpkin Spice Season Is The Best Secular American Holiday

Don’t fight it!

The faint scent of clover wafts into my bedroom window. My favorite TV shows are returning to their regularly scheduled weekday slots. Ah, it’s that time of year again, my favorite American holiday: Pumpkin Spice season.


Its arrival has become as controversial as Christmas, as it appears to creep up earlier and earlier each year, and with it, a deluge of impassioned thinkpieces about the drink’s ubiquity and its steady encroachment into summer. But in California, where the advance of time is only detectable by the seasonal decorations of storefront windows and the premiere of a new Kardashian reality show spin-off (Rob & Chyna airs this weekend!), the emergence of the Pumpkin Spice latte is a welcome harbinger of change. A holiday that isn’t corporatized, but resolutely corporate—built by a team of branding geniuses on the premise of spices pilfered by colonialists. I’d argue that Pumpkin Spice season is actually America’s best secular holiday.

I had my first Pumpkin Spice latte a few years ago, from the Starbuck’s location at The Grove, in the center of L.A. I was a skeptic, a snooty coffee snob whose $5 cappuccinos from the gentrifying café in my neighborhood were always Instagram-ready. But, after one sip, I was hooked: the warm liquid conducted a full assault of flavor on my taste buds, a puissant mélange of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove meant to reproduce the experience of eating a pumpkin pie. (Worth noting that until 2015, this iconic recipe didn’t actually include pumpkin as an ingredient.)

From there, I went on to other Pumpkin Spice products: pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, lollypop’s from See’s. A Pumpkin Spice Yankee Candle. The spirit of Pumpkin Spice was upon me.

Image by Mike Mozart.

As a Muslim who was deprived of the celebrations of Christmas and all other religious (and non-religious) holidays, Pumpkin Spice season allows me to celebrate the advent of a new calendar term. It’s a holiday that requires no God, no religion, although sipping a Pumpkin Spice latte while surrounded by the symbolic accoutrement of fall—paper leave cutouts, pinecone-studded wreathes, decorative gourds—feels devotional somehow.

I didn’t grow up with pumpkin pies. The only squash my mother bought were the kinds she used for couscous dishes. But drinking these flavored lattes evokes a strange artificial nostalgia, a communal feeling I never felt. Here, I could claim participation in a culture that was never mine to begin with. It’s America’s best populist holiday, a celebration that excludes no one except those too distracted by their own arrogance to enjoy it. Because it isn’t about a food, it’s really about a feeling. So here’s to wishing you a Happy Pumpkin Spice for years to come!

Image by Mike Mozart.

Food

Some beauty pageants, like the Miss America competition, have done away with the swimsuit portions of the competitions, thus dipping their toes in the 21st century. Other aspects of beauty pageants remain stuck in the 1950s, and we're not even talking about the whole "judging women mostly on their looks" thing. One beauty pageant winner was disqualified for being a mom, as if you can't be beautiful after you've had a kid. Now she's trying to get the Miss World competition to update their rules.

Veronika Didusenko won the Miss Ukraine pageant in 2018. After four days, she was disqualified because pageant officials found out she was a mom to 5-year-old son Alex, and had been married. Didusenko said she had been aware of Miss World's rule barring mother from competing, but was encouraged to compete anyways by pageant organizers.

Keep Reading Show less

One mystery in our universe is a step closer to being solved. NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched last year to help scientists understand the sun. Now, it has returned its first findings. Four papers were published in the journal Nature detailing the findings of Parker's first two flybys. It's one small step for a solar probe, one giant leap for mankind.



It is astounding that we've advanced to the point where we've managed to build a probe capable of flying within 15 million miles from the surface of the sun, but here we are. Parker can withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and travels at 430,000 miles per hour. It's the fastest human-made vehicle, and no other human-made object has been so close to the sun.

Keep Reading Show less
via Sportstreambest / Flickr

Since the mid '90s the phrase "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" has been part of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's football team's lexicon.

Over the past few years, the team has taken the field flying a black skull-and-crossbones flag with an acronym for the phrase, "GFBD" on the skull's upper lip. Supporters of the team also use it on social media as #GFBD.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture