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Introducing Pumpkin Spice Day, Our New Favorite Meme-Busting, Feminist Holiday


Like many rebellions, it began with a tiny spark.

For years, my late Augusts have been punctuated by chatter about autumn. People are excited for the oncoming season, the changing weather, and the upcoming holidays. For some, fall is back-to-school season. But for most of the friends, family and acquaintances in my social media sphere, fall is pumpkin spice season. Happy status updates heralding the return of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte, or Trader Joe’s cornucopia of pumpkin spice items, have been an integral part of the summer’s end for the past decade of my life.

I’d always enjoyed the flavor of pumpkin spice, myself. I’d never tried the famed latte, but I certainly loved pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake. I’d been meaning to try some of the stranger pumpkin spice items for several years, but had somehow never gotten around to it.

Then, in 2013, came the spark. That August, I saw my first anti-pumpkin spice meme. On the timeline of a guy whom I’d been Facebook friends with for several years, the following image was posted:


After commenting that I found the meme sexist, and that pumpkin spice was for everyone (not just women), the guy doubled down, posting an even more sexist meme. It showed a pack of pumpkin spice-flavored gum, with the words “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE LET WOMEN DESIGN PRODUCTS” in bold white letters. Disgusted, I hit the “unfriend” button.

Unfortunately, this incident wasn’t isolated. Scrolling through my newsfeed, I saw several more anti-pumpkin spice memes. Every single one was aimed at women. They mocked our fashion. They mocked our intellect. They mocked our innocent love for lattes and sweets, though we are hardly the only ones to love those things.

Several girls I knew were accused of being “hipsters”, or even cussed at, for posting the same pumpkin spice-related statuses they always had. It seemed that dudes had found one more arbitrary thing to mock women for.
And I wasn’t having it.

I was going to rebel. Hard. I was going to eat so much pumpkin spice—ALL the pumpkin spice—that the trolls wouldn’t be able to handle it. For an entire day, I shopped. I bought the yummiest, strangest, most obscure and most delicious-looking pumpkin spice products I could find, throughout the city of Indianapolis. Then I sat down, and in a single day I tried every single one. I took pictures, and recorded my exploits on Facebook. The ritual of Pumpkin Spice Day was born.

Every year since, more friends have joined in my Pumpkin Spice Day fun. Some even began sending me strange pumpkin spice products to try. Best of all, my oversaturation of pumpkin spice seemed to be too much for the trolls to handle. The anti-pumpkin spice memes dwindled out of my newsfeed almost as soon as I posted my first Pumpkin Spice Day album.

So now, dear Mary Sue readers, I’d be honored if you would allow me to share some highlights from my most recent Pumpkin Spice Day.

The Best
When I tell people about my pumpkin spice ritual, their first question is usually “What’s the best thing you’ve tried?” That honor falls to one of the smallest, most unassuming products on my yearly list: the Godiva pumpkin spice truffle. With its round shape and beautiful orange wrapper (with a leaf and twisted sprig of “vine”!), this is also one of the cutest pumpkin spice products available. Unwrap it, bite into the chocolate and savor the orange ganache within, which tastes remarkably like pumpkin pie.


The only drawback? These little guys are expensive. A single truffle costs two dollars with tax. But for a true pumpkin spice lover, it’s beyond worth it.

The Worst
With the good, comes the bad. Of all the unusual products I’ve tried, the worst ended up being a fairly unassuming and common snack item: pumpkin spice Peeps. Peeps are divisive at the best of times—you either love them or you hate them. My good friend, Heather, was nice enough to gift me a box of the pumpkin spice variety when she heard about my new tradition. Little did she know that her gift would live in infamy.


Being a lover of regular Peeps, I could not have been more unprepared for what was about to occurr as I took my first bite. The bottom halves of pumpkin spice peeps are covered in what looks like (and is labeled as) white chocolate, but which is more like a thin, chocolate-esque film which immediately turns slimy on the tongue. The pumpkin spice flavor is practically nonexistent—the only prevailing taste is cinnamon. Burning, artificial cinnamon.

To be fair, regular Peeps also have a distinct, artificial-sweetener flavor (it’s part of their charm!), but it fades after a few swallows. This taste did not fade. It lingered for hours, and was banished only by determined teeth-brushing. You have been warned.

The Unexpected
Easily one of the strangest pumpkin spice products I’ve tried, pumpkin spice ravioli from Trader Joe’s turned out to be one of the very best. I’ll admit, I had to give myself a pep talk to bite into the first piece. I was completely shocked by the natural squash-like flavor of the pumpkin, and the hint of cinnamon and cumin on the aftertaste. It was savory, sweet, and delicious with butter and Parmesan cheese.


Another surprising item was the pumpkin spice Twinkie. It didn’t shock with its deliciousness, as the ravioli did. It simply…didn’t taste anything like I expected it to. Think of whipped cream, mixed with spices and just a hint of…plastic? Not enough to be gross, just enough to make you think of the cheap candy of your youth. I’ve had a box of these, and I can’t figure out whether I like them or not. In my heart, a tiny voice whispers that I shall never know.


I encourage everyone to make Pumpkin Spice Day a regular part of your autumn routine. Who couldn’t use a fall-themed feminist holiday?

featured image via Shutterstock; photos by the author)

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Maria is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist from Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has appeared in Marie Claire, Ravishly, Punchnel’s Mythic Indy Anthology, and won Narratively’s “most viewed story” prize for the month of June 2016.

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