There’s a rule in fashion that you don’t wear white after Labor Day. The rule itself is based in elitism—it was a way for the wealthy class to distinguish themselves from the working class, who tended to wear darker clothes because dirt wouldn’t show as much while living “in the dirty city”—but it nonetheless has some utility; white doesn’t absorb as much heat, making it better summer wear. The rule has since become something less than a suggestion. Wear whatever you want, when you want.
But there’s a corollary in the coffee space to the No White After Labor Day rule that has been repeatedly broken with complete disregard for any sense of decency, and frankly it needs to stop. There should be no Pumpkin Spicing before Labor Day.
Here we all are, August 18th, less than three weeks past the hottest month in recorded human history—100+° days aren’t done with us, not by a longshot. And yet today Dunkin’ is rolling out their fall menu, including pumpkin spice. Per the Boston Globe, the menu comes out one week sooner than it did in 2020, picking up the pace in the march toward year-round pumpkin spice ubiquity. Not to be left behind, Starbucks will be following suit just one week from today.
It’s not just coffee. The trend to pumpkin spice literally anything continues here in the year of our lord 2021 with Cup Noodles releasing a pumpkin spice-flavored ramen.
And for what? Is pumpkin spice even trendy anymore? Don’t get me wrong, the blend of nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and sometimes allspice or mace is wonderful and warming. And I understand coffee companies like Starbucks and Dunkin’ continuing to offer the seasonal treat; there’s something almost nostalgic about busting out the coat and beanie just a touch early, sipping on a 20 ounce PSL, pretending it’s a little colder outside than it actually is. But it’s still in the high 90s around here, and who’s jonesing to try novel pumpkin spice food items anyway (other than Cozell Wilson)? Brands releasing pumpkin spice versions of their products at this point are like attempting to go #viral on MySpace or Vine. What are we even doing here?
Listen, we are living in truly strange times. The ceaselessness of the pandemic has already strained all credulity of the notion of time. We’ve been living in a perpetual Groundhog Day for how long I can’t even say, some multiversal sameness whereby we have experienced a thousand lives in the course of a day and only one day for the past 18 months. The only pin tethering us to finitude has been seasonality, and now we are losing even that. Why are we trying to ruin the fourth dimension when we haven’t even finished the first three?!
So please, keep the PSL out of the zeitgeist for a little while longer. Give us until Labor Day. Is that so much to ask?