The seasonal creep: fall themes are earlier than ever

By Meagan Kennedy 

Elm Staff Writer 

With the early release of Starbucks’ and Dunkin’s pumpkin-spiced menus, and autumnal decorations and Halloween candy lining the shelves of stores this month, it’s hard to recall that the beginning of the fall season is still several weeks away. Companies have brought back fan favorites like the pumpkin spice latte earlier than ever, both with hopes of bringing comfort to those facing uncertainty with the pandemic looming indefinitely and as a capitalistic reach for a sales increase. While it looks like the idea of trick-or-treating is impossible for this Halloween, many Americans lean towards enjoying classic fall treats at home. 

Companies like Hershey, however, are making their marketing less festive this year. In order to appeal to their new and returning buyers, which is around 55% according to CNN, Hershey’s has eliminated their Halloween themed candies. 

Christopher Gindlesperger, the senior vice president of public affairs and communications for the National Confectioners Association,also told CNN,“The multi-pack bags with individually wrapped “fun size” candies — have sold well during the pandemic pantry-stocking.” 

As Americans have been home for several months now, bringing the festivity of fall into their lives in a casual way can make the long days seem better. Enjoying Halloween candy a month early or a fall themed drink from your favorite coffee provider can be a simple way to keep spirits high and introduce some normalcy. 

In the case of pumpkin flavors, we might be seeing them more than ever entering the fall season. In 2018, Forbes marked the pumpkin industry at $600 million dollars, $110 million being sales from Starbucks’ pumpkin flavored drinks. 

Now, there is pumpkin flavored dog food, coffee creamer, cake batter, cream cheese,and so much more since the introduction and popularity of pumpkin spice lattes. On top of that, other competitors with Starbucks have released their own pumpkin spice lattes,like Dunkin’,7-Eleven, Peet’s Coffee, Einstein Bros. Bagels, and McDonald’s. With this saturation of pumpkin in everyday life during the “fall” season, is there a point where it becomes oversaturated? 

In the summer months, there is so little time before fall themed clothing, food, and decorations, flood the stores. In late August it is seemingly impossible to find summer clothes at Target and other clothing stores in the sea of “fall clothing staples.” 

Then into fall, it becomes impossible to find Halloween decorations in the midst of Christmas trees and twinkling lights. 

“There’s a reason it matters: it suggests our susceptibility to environmental revisionism, to embracing ignorance of and isolation from nature’s rhythms,” Gracy Olmstead writes in The Week. “That susceptibility is only growing stronger as our industrialized system of agriculture distracts us from the realities of seasonal food production.

 Olmstead continues to dissect the assimilation into the fall season and how it is against the nature of time. Capitalism has taken over the nature of nature itself. It has decided for Americans to wear big sweaters and fuzzy socks in 80-degree weather. 

Those who make a large portion of their sales in seasonal products are not doing this entirely for America’s comfort. There is a pattern behind the seasonal creep of pumpkins, and it has been happening for many years. Appreciating the seasons for what they are and enjoying the festive products is exciting and comforting, especially during this pandemic. 

However, looking beyond the allspice and cinnamon flavors, and into the message these companies are conveying with the seasonal creep is just as important. There are patterns behind these products becoming more prevalent earlier each year, even more so with Americans being home during their biggest sale season. As Americans adapt to school, work, and social life from a distance, so does America’s corporations.

Featured Photo caption: With fall still a ways to go, companies like Starbucks have planned an early release of their fan favorite pumpkin spice latte, causing quite a bit of commotion along the way. Photo Courtesy of Jiawei Zhao.

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