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What Is Spice in the ‘Star Wars’ Canon?

Let's get spicy.

a large shipping container full of spice in the book of boba fett

Now that The Book of Boba Fett season one has ended, and we have to bide our time awaiting the return of The Mandalorian’s third season, it’s time to take a look at Fett’s battle with the Pyke crime syndicate. 

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With Jabba gone, Tatooine’s criminal underworld has a very large vacuum that needs to be filled. Fett has claimed the palace, but several other crime families (including Jabba’s relatives) want to displace him. And none are more powerful than the Pykes. Fett’s history with them this season goes back to when he was living with a tribe of Tusken Raiders. In a scene out of a classic western, they hijack the Pykes’ desert train and disrupt the flow of their spice trade. In retaliation, the Pykes murder his entire tribe. Later, when Fett is looking for backup, he is able to recruit Cobb Vanth, and the people of Freetown, because they are sick of the Pykes ruining their people and town with their spice.

But what is spice in ‘Star Wars?

What exactly is spice in Star Wars? Spice is a mineral ore mined on various planets throughout the galaxy. It has several purposes (including medicinal), however, it is most often used to make highly addictive, dangerous, and illegal drugs. The most common variety mentioned throughout the Star Wars canon is “sansanna spice”—usually a rusty, red-orange powder that looks quite similar to cinnamon. Heavy spice users often have stained fingers and faces. What kind of drug is spice in Star Wars? It isn’t explicitly stated, but spice is definitely described as an illegal substance.

 The struggle over control of the black market spice trade has leaked into many historically notable events throughout Star Wars. Remember that assassination attempt made against Senator Padme Amidala? They originally tried to pin it on disgruntled spice miners from the moons of Naboo. (It was actually Count Dooku.) Why was Jabba the Hutt so mad at Han for dumping his cargo that he sent bounty hunters to track him down? Because he was carrying a large load of spice for Jabba that was extremely valuable. Even Luke Skywalker grew up thinking that his father Anakin was a navigator on a spice freighter. 

Is spice from ‘Dune‘ or ‘Star Wars?’

If spice in this context sounds familiar to you, it could be because George Lucas was inspired by the spice “melange” in Frank Herbert’s iconic science fiction novel, Dune, along with many, many other things. (Dune itself now has two different iconic film adaptations: one by David Lynch and one by Denis Villeneuve which just won six academy awards.) In the world of Dune, spice is a rusty colored, powdery deposit that smells strongly of cinnamon, and is expensive and highly sought after because its hallucinatory/psychic effects make interstellar space travel possible. However, it is only found on the planet Arrakis because it is secreted by the giant worms that live there.

There you have it! Spice!

(Image: Disney Plus/Lucasfilms)

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Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.

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