The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 8, 2013

Brace yourselves: It’s all things pumpkin

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer
CNHI

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 — Yep. I'm afraid it's that time of the year again.

No, I'm not talking about the change in seasons. But it is nice to experience cooler weather, the falling of the leaves and the fact I soon won’t have to mow my lawn again for a few more months. I mean, I mowed it Tuesday. It’s October, for crying out loud.

What I’m talking about is the fact, once again, an epidemic is sweeping the nation. An epidemic so powerful and intoxicating to some people it seems like they are kind of going through what I like to call a Lay’s Potato Chip moment.

You know, you can’t have just one.

I’m talking about pumpkin-scented or pumpkin-flavored … EVERYTHING.

Batten down the hatches.

It seems everywhere you turn these days, something has either a whiff of pumpkin or the taste of it. You have the traditional pumpkin pie, bread and even coffee. Nothing’s wrong with that. We’re used to having those things.

But somewhere along the way, either the head of the National Pumpkin Growers Association or someone with an obviously twisted mind decided pumpkin had to be included in everything you eat, drink or breathe.

EVERYTHING.

I decided to do a casual search on the internet to see what items would have pumpkin or pumpkin flavoring in them. I knew I had seen several items while shopping — cake mixes, ice cream, even beer. But I was stunned with all the results I came across.

Fudge, milkshakes, waffles, pancakes, cream cheese, yogurt, butter, Pop Tarts, M&Ms, quiche, Macaroons and other cookies, Pringles (Pringles?????), smoothies, lasagna … the list went on and on and on.

I was floored, to say the least.

I was never a fan of pumpkin growing up. Other than carving one out for Halloween or taking great delight in watching one be smashed or blown up, pumpkins were nothing more than props you'd see during this time of year, especially at Halloween. I always found it funny when someone carved out a pumpkin and then put the inners in a big pile in front of it, to signify it had just thrown up.

Because that's about as much redeeming value as a pumpkin had to me. Plus, it was funny, too.

But I've recently gained a fondness for pumpkin pie. I don't eat it every day, but it's something I enjoy on occasion. I’ve even had pumpkin bread before. Tasty, but I'm not ready to quit my job and make a business out of it.

It’s unreal how much the pumpkin craze has taken over. Pumpkin-flavored mac and cheese? It’s called mac and cheese for a reason, folks. They call it four-cheese pasta for a reason. It’s not supposed to be four-cheese and pumpkin pasta.

Pumpkin-flavored donuts? Et tu, Krispy Kreme?

They’ve even got Pumpkin Spice Mallows from Kraft. Because just calling them marshmallows is so five minutes ago. I can only imagine how “delicious” pumpkin-flavored greek yogurt is. Because greek yogurt itself tastes something like what that pumpkin threw up I mentioned earlier. But without the pumpkin flavor.

No wonder the Greeks have had it so bad economically.

There's even a pumpkin-scented dedorant. Rachel Rene Bath & Body makes a Vegan (Vegan? Don't get me started) deodorant that's pumpkin-scented. The tagline says “it combats and kills odor-causing bacteria. What a sweet treat for your pits.”

And when you get hungry, you can probably just dive right into the bar. At just 2.5 ounces, what's the worst it could do to you?

Whatever happened to the days of pumpkin-flavored … pumpkin?

Just seeing how many foods and scents came with pumpkin added made me wonder if there's anything in the world that that doesn't involve pumpkin right now. I think I've stumbled across some things.

...

That's right, nothing is seemingly safe from pumpkins. Pumpkin-scented soap, pumpkin-scented shampoo, pumpkin-flavored soy milk, pasta, potato chips … even gumballs.

We're officially pumpkin crazy.

There was a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently that said the pumpkin craze is growing at an alarming rate and will continue in that direction. The story cites a report by Nielsen — the folks that do television ratings — that says pumpkin-flavored products in the U.S. grew 19 percent last year, accounting for more than $290 million in sales. Sales of all things pumpkin are at 28 percent this year through September, well before the official start of the pumpkin season, as the newspaper points out.

If you type in “pumpkin-flavored everything” in a Google search, there are pages and pages devoted to the idea. There's even whole websites on Facebook, Pintrest and Tumblr devoted to the product.

One of the best television shows currently is “Game of Thrones” on HBO. There was a popular phrase that was kicked around about the time the show started getting popular: “Brace Yourselves …” One of the more popular photos on the web is one of the characters kneeling with a sword in his hand with the words “Brace Yourselves … Pumpkin-flavored everything is coming.”

I’m sorry my friends, it’s already here. And it’s taken over the world. Your chance to stop it ended around 10 years ago when Starbucks decided to start selling its Pumpkin Spice Latte. Resistance is futile.

Though I haven't seen a commercial for a Whopper or Big Mac (because two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion AND PUMPKIN on a sesame seed bun sounds sooo delightful). So there's hope in the world.

I’m reminded of the cult classic horror-comedy “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” The 1978 movie focused on these giant tomatoes that were terrorizing citizens and generally causing extreme havoc.

There seemed to be no end in sight to the tomatoes' terror, and the thought of being taken over and ruled by tomatoes was becoming a real possibility. Fortunately, the tomatoes' weakness was a song called “Puberty Love.” It shrunk the tomatoes for people to step on and kill.

Hopefully, the pumpkin epidemic hasn't gotten that severe. But I’d watch your step carefully.

At the end of “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” a carrot rises from the earth and proclaims “All right, you guys. They're gone now.”

No telling what's around the corner.

Brace yourselves!

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 21 or email at jason@stanlynewspress.com.