Let me set the all-too-familiar scene: Trader Joe’s, with a friend, on a Sunday. A giant pyramid of pumpkin puree cans stares back at me. “Oh…my...God,” I whisper, as if my very presence might topple them. I wander (technically, elbow my way—it’s TJ’s on a Sunday) over to the orange-labeled pile, picking up one of the cans and cradling it like Simba. “Pumpkin season,” I say, and my friend starts to look worried. “Ugh, so basic,” she scoffs. Feeling attacked, I set the can down and head to the frozen foods aisle to purchase something socially acceptable, like cauliflower gnocchi.
But here's my question: When did we deem pumpkin—and all fall flavors, for that matter—basic? For those who need a refresher, the term “basic” is often used to refer to girls who are predictable and boring. “Ohhh, you like avocado toast? And acai bowls? And rose gold? And monograms? That’s cute,” some evil, condescending person probably said once, outside a Cinnabon.
And maybe this fun-shamer had a right to be skeptical. After all, pumpkin was a calculated marketing ploy. Namely, when Starbucks renamed fall “PSL season,” they knew every Ugg-wearing, Insta-obsessed woman from age 13 to 43 would be lining up for their special seasonal latte, and they got that prediction right. A cool $1.4 billion (with a b, not for basic) has been generated from the sales of PSLs since their inception in 2003, according to Mic.
But here’s where the eye-rolling falls flat. See, in my opinion, the real reason people drink pumpkin-syrup-filled lattes isn’t because they want to ascribe to some Starbucks-manufactured sorority girl ideal. It’s simply because these things are freaking delicious. They taste good, they feel good, end of story. Take my $7 and make it a venti with almond milk (healthy), please.