What Makes Pumpkin Spice Magical?

The draw of pumpkin spice

Okay, so pumpkin spice isn’t exactly magical, but it does hold a certain kind of power. I’d go as far as saying pumpkin spice even has a certain element of romance to it.

After all, nutmeg, the main ingredient of pumpkin spice has been used by humans for 3500 years, according to residue found on pots dating back to that time period. So it’s unquestionably a beloved spice.

filled clear glass cup

We find familiarity and comfort with both the scent and the taste. And it reminds us of the holidays, of being cozy and happy. So it’s understandable why it might be the ultimate comfort food.

Still, is it necessary for there to be over a hundred food and drink items that are now offered in pumpkin spice flavor? It’s a bit over-the-top in my humble opinion.

Or is it? Maybe pumpkin spice Cheerios, Oreos, Jell-O, or pretzels get your taste buds tingling? Or how about pumpkin spice chocolate squares and caramel corn? These are all real things! And pumpkin spice kale chips? Say what?

In reality, it turns out that it’s not so much the flavor of pumpkin spice we seem to be obsessed with (not entirely), but with the idea of it and how it makes us feel on an emotional level. Everything always seems to go there, doesn’t it? To the emotions?

Did you know that about 70 percent of our perception of taste is retronasal (say what?), or mouth smell (gross!). It’s how we create flavor through scent.

black and white dog with disguise eyeglasses

The following quote is taken from Amanda White in an interesting article from Psychology Today:

“…Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.”

So there you have it—we might be nuts over pumpkin spice, but there’s at least a good reason. So, enjoy it whenever you want in whichever way you like. And ignore the haters.

To keep you on the pumpkin spice roll, you can go to the Pioneer Woman’s blog for an easy recipe to make your own pumpkin pie spice.

As always, happy reading!

Book recommendation:

The Girl Before” by J.P. Delaney. A fun psychological thriller. I definitely enjoyed this one.

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