Gretchen, stop trying to make fall happen!

By Maxine Builder and Maxine Builder
Updated February 13, 2018
EC: Who Decided That Pumpkin Spice Season Starts in August?
Credit: Photo by Bertlmann via Getty Images / Illustration by Maxine Builder

My summer ended on Monday, July 17, 2017. That's the day I received an email asking me if I was thinking about pumpkin spice trends. I wasn't, and I'm still not. It's decidedly summertime in my world. I am focused on looking good in white pants, eating watermelon, sipping rosé, and skipping out of work early on Friday afternoons to beat the rush out of town. But I don't seem to have a say in the matter anymore, especially not when it comes to pumpkin spice.

In the same way that the holiday season seems to start a little earlier every year, pumpkin spice season has been inching uncomfortably ever closer to Labor Day—and this year, some folks in a corporate office somewhere decided to throw decorum to the wind and decide that summer was over in early August.

The main culprit in this race to the gourd-y bottom is World Market, the Bed Bath & Beyond-owned company that released its Pumpkin Spice Coffee on August 1. A press release announcing the release of the coffee shouted, in overside, pumpkin-orange letters, "It's never too early for fall flavors." August 1 is a full 53 days before the first day of autumn, and, to be honest, that seems a tad too early for fall flavors to me.

But World Market isn't the only brand that's been pushing the envelope. According to Delish's intrepid Instagram reporting, people have been spotting Starbucks pumpkin spice-flavored coffee in grocery stores, along with pumpkin spice-flavored Milano cookies, pumpkin pie-flavored Greek yogurt from Dannon, and pumpkin spice-flavored Coffeemate creamer. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are also coming back this year—starting in mid-August. According to a spokesperson for General Mills, "Because of distribution, there really isn’t a way for us to know exactly" when the seasonal cereal will be available in supermarkets, but I've been promised that it'll be sometime this month, and that makes me sad.

Shilling for pumpkin spice-flavored foods in August is like wearing white after Labor Day. You just shouldn't do it. And I get it. Pumpkin spice is a lucrative business for food companies. In 2013, US retail outlets made $350 million from the sales of pumpkin spice products alone, and there's a real advantage to being the first food or drink with pumpkin spice on the market, especially when it's so oversaturated with all pumpkin spice everything.

But part of the appeal of pumpkin spice is that it's something special, something limited, something that marks the end of one season and the beginning of another. So marketing it in the middle of the dog days of summer feels rude—but I guess that's the anarchic world we live in now, where everyone's out the get a quick buck no matter how much it ruins everything else. I hate 2017.