Fall is approaching, which means it’s time for the annual proliferation of “pumpkin spice [insert your product name here].” If you’re wondering when the pumpkin spice craze will finally die, neuroscience has the answer: hopefully never.
According to the Cultural Cycles Model, #pumpkineverything is a proxy indicator of ‘getting ready for and showing enthusiasm for’ the season of recommitment that begins with the fall holidays. The need to do this has probably been increasing over the last several years for obvious reasons (a pandemic, social unrest, political unrest).
As our US culture feels like it’s in disarray, there is a general instinct that our recommitment rituals carry a bigger significance. If we can’t come together around pumpkin spice and the spirit of the fall and winter holidays, we’re in trouble culturally. We need to reconnect/reestablish norms and bonds.
Evolutionarily speaking, the measuring stick of human progress is the extent to which the cultural mindset is aligned with our frontal lobe characteristics (rational and experiential) or if it is better aligned with our ‘cave brain’ instinctual mindset. Currently, our cultural mindset is trending more instinctual. And, when we get to a culturally scaled expression of ‘instinct,’ things almost always go sideways.
So go ahead and indulge in a pumpkin spice latte or fill your grocery cart with pumpkin spice Goldfish crackers and be glad there are still some things we can all agree on (or at least agree to make mild fun of together).