When our Instagram feeds are flooded with images of apple picking and cable knit sweaters, it can only mean one thing: pumpkin spice season is upon us. Every year, like a “u up?” text at 2am, people from all over put on their UGGs and flock to the nearest Starbucks in search of the coveted pumpkin spice latte. But why? Why is it that we have this undeniable need to have pumpkin spice coursing through our veins? Where did this obsession come from? What is driving our addiction to all things pumpkin spice? Well as it turns out, there are scientific reasons why you can’t get enough of this fall favorite.
Reminder that Fall is coming so make sure you have a pumpkin spice product in your car at all times because cops are cracking down this year
— Rodney Lacroix (@RodLacroix) August 30, 2016
Available for a limited time only: six words that can have us ready to shove our grandma out of the way in order to get to a small reserve of goods. Are we just insanely greedy, or can we blame science for this? According to psychologist Jack Brehm, we are hard-wired to crave things that are not always available. Through Brehm’s discovery of reactance theory (where, when people feel restricted, they feel a strong need to gain back their freedom) he finds that when we are told we can no longer do/have something, we then infinitely want do it/have it more. In layman’s terms, we want what we can’t have. In one of Brehm’s most notable studies, he asked participants to rank three records that they would like to have, Brehm then informed them that their third option was no longer available, and ask them to rank their top three choices again. What he found was that people then ranked their original third choice first, simply because it was no longer available, and thus more attractive to them.
It’s the same in relationships, like the art of playing hard to get, or only wanting the guy you keep on the backburner strictly for attention when he’s seeing someone else. You never give the guy you friend-zoned a romantic thought—that is, until he starts dating someone else and then he instantly becomes Brad Pitt in your eyes. Now that they are no longer available you will stop at nothing to get them back, running through airport security to stop them at the gate and ask them to split a PSL with you while you ride off into the sunset. I digress, but you get the idea. If you’re told you can’t have something, that only makes you want it more. I wonder if advertising firms have caught on to this yet?
Pumpkin spice season only comes around once a year, meaning for the rest of the year we won’t be able to have it, no matter how much we want it. As Brehm has taught us, we as a result want goods, like pumpkin spice lattes, more because we’re told that soon we can’t have it at all. This dared me to ask the question: Do I even like pumpkin spice or do I just want it because I can’t have it? In my case, turns out it’s a little bit of both.
Ahhh, the scent of the holidays, inhaling the jolly wonders of pumpkin spice and everything nice. In a 2017 interview with CNN, the assistant professor of psychology and director of the neurostudies minor at Longwood University in Virginia, Catherine Franssen, says that sugar and spice combinations can evoke happiness and flood our senses with blissful childhood memories, like holiday traditions—or, in my experience, making out with your high school boyfriend in his car underneath the pumpkin spice air freshener, which is also technically a holiday tradition. Don’t judge. Franssen also tells CNN that we relate the smell of pumpkin spice to happy times because we encounter this spice blend early in life, like baking pies at grandma’s house or whatever.
So while we’re busy feeling all warm and fuzzy, we become completely oblivious to the fact that pumpkin spice has manipulated us into feeling happy. How rude, right? Not only that, but Franssen also writes in her 2015 article for the Huffington Post that smell can account for up to 80% of flavor, so that because we are enamored with the scent, we then in turn enjoy the food or drink even more.
Sugar Addiction Is Real
betches(@betches) has created a short video on TikTok with music Thisisnotmysound. it’s pumpkin SZN #foryoupage #fyp
This may come a shock to you, but sugar is highly addictive, and occasionally Starbucks drinks with names longer than a royal title can be packed full of sugar. Sorry to have to horrify you with the calorie count of a PSL, but a grande pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream at Starbucks contains 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar, while a tall size still has 300 calories with 39 grams of sugar. With stats like that, you might want to rethink your morning pick-me-up, or at least not make it a daily occurrence, because consuming mass amounts of sugar can leave you wanting more mass amounts of sugar. As cited by scholars, Serge H. Ahmed, Karine Guillem, and Youna Vandaele in their academic review, Sugar Addiction: Pushing The Drug-Sugar Analogy To The Limit, sugar has been alluded to be just as addictive as another white powdery substance that can also fill you with bursts of energy. Cocaine, I’m talking about cocaine.
As Catherine Franssen continues on with CNN she relays that, combining the enticing scent with copious amounts of sugar, especially when you’re hungry, can lead to a subconscious association of feeling totally satisfied. Through this process, you have now successfully tricked your nervous system into craving pumpkin spice, and that without it you may very well spiral into a state of unwavering despair. That may sound a bit dramatic, but honestly if you have ever been denied a pumpkin spiced muffin or latte, you know the feeling, and have most likely broken down into tears in the middle of a crowded Starbucks. No? Just wait, it will happen to you too.
Pumpkin Spice And Everything Nice
Okay, now what have we learned? Pumpkin spice products contain insane amounts of sugar, it can remind us of joyous times in our lives, and thus leaves us craving it because we can’t always have it. So thank you science for giving us valid reasons behind our unsettling obsession to the effects of pumpkin spice.
Since it only happens once a year, we can agree to call it a healthy obsession, right? Also, if you have been taking a drink every time I’ve said the words pumpkin spice, I’m seriously impressed, and you should also probably go get your stomach pumped now.
Images: Soeka / Shutterstock.com; RodLacroix, betchesluvthis / Twitter; Giphy
Like most betches, I spend approximately half of my paycheck on Starbucks every month. I mean, I don’t have the exact numbers because budgets are for accountants and people without online shopping addictions, but the point is that coffee is the lifeblood coursing through my veins. Luckily for everyone else who can’t get through the afternoon without a triple caramel macchiato, coffee is good for you personally, even if it’s terrible for your bank account. Let me count the ways.
1. It Reduces Your Risk of Stroke
Full disclosure here: Caffeine has been shown to cause an intense increase in blood pressure right after you drink it, but it goes away pretty quickly. In the long term (aka that thing you can never think about), caffeine is actually thought to reduce your risk of stroke. Back in 2015, a study of more than 82,000 people found that the ones who drank at least one cup of coffee a day (or a fuckton of green tea) were way less likely to have a stroke over the years.
In 2011, a similar study found that women who drank two or more cups each day were less likely to have a stroke, too. So to all the people who give you side-eye when you’re on your fourth cup by 10am can chill way out.
2. It Keeps Your Teeth Healthy
According to research, drinking black coffee might prevent cavities. Obviously (and tragically) this doesn’t apply to the monstrosities from Starbucks we know and love, because if we learned anything in elementary school it’s that sugar = cavities. But if you can choke down black coffee, you’re actually doing your teeth a favor health-wise. Just buy a lifetime supply of whitening strips while you’re at it, because just because your teeth are health doesn’t mean they’re not stained AF.
3. It Has A Bunch of Antioxidants
You might associate antioxidants with
disgusting healthy foods you pretend to love like pomegranates or something, but coffee is actually one of the biggest sources of antioxidants in our diets. The main antioxidant coffee provides is chlorogenic acid, but there are a bunch of others floating around in your cup of joe. The jury is still out on whether that actually means anything, but at least you’ll feel healthy as shit and won’t have to spend like, $1K on an acai bowl to do so.
4. It Prevents Depression
Approximately a bajillion studies have shown that coffee is linked to a lower risk for depression, especially in women. This probably has to do with caffeine’s stimulatory effects—it encourages your brain to release dopamine, just like all the fun drugs but in lower doses. Coffee doesn’t cure depression (duh), but in Trump’s America, even just a lowered risk is pretty solid.
5. It Lowers Risk For Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is super scary—just ask Michael J Fox. Like, it’s one of those disease you can spend hours on WebMD convincing yourself you have and get all the way through making a ZocDoc appointment before your boyfriend reminds you that you’re just high. Well, next time you go down one of these rabbit holes, remind your anxiety brain that coffee might protect against Parkinson’s and control symptoms in people who already have it. In 2012, a study found that caffeine helped people with Parkinson’s control their movements, and a few other studies over the years have found that people who drink coffee every day are less likely to get the disease.
6. It Makes You More Alert
ICYMI because you’re one of those hipsters who drinks coffee “for the taste,” coffee quickly makes you more alert and reduces fatigue, which is why we all need it before dealing with work/people/the world in general on Monday morning. It can also mess with your sleep patterns, but that’s a small price to pay for it quelling all your homicidal tendencies.
7. It Reduces Skin Cancer Risk
Bad news: If you were like literally everyone else in the mid-2000s and used tanning beds as a teenager, you should watch out for skin cancer. Good news: Coffee drinking might be linked to a reduced risk for melanoma. Back to bad news: There have only been a few studies about it, so you still have to wear sunscreen on spring break.
8. You Turn Into A Monster At The Gym
Next time someone is inexplicably annoyed when you roll up to Pilates with Starbucks in hand, kindly refer them to the fuckton of research showing that caffeine boosts workout performance. Apparently, caffeine’s stimulation helps you work out harder, and all that dopamine makes the misery less miserable. Plus, people eat fewer calories when they drink caffeine before and after a workout, which is the literal opposite of what happens when I hit the gym.
9. You Literally Live Longer
Research shows that people who drink coffee every day tend to live longer. Better yet, the last study on the subject back in 2015 found that moderate coffee drinkers—the people who have three to five cups a day—were the ones that lived longest, even compared to people who had just one or two cups. I’d like to note that if three to five cups PER DAY is considered “moderate” coffee consumption, I don’t want to meet the “heavy” consumers. But regardless, there’s your excuse to order an extra shot in your latte from today until you kick the bucket several centuries from now.
In conclusion: To all the smug tea drinkers out there, kindly STFU about the perils of coffee and feel free to take every seat.
So Starbucks’ quest to get away from the “basic” label continues. The beloved provider of every betches’ lifeblood (the PSL, duh) just announced the addition of a bunch of new stuff, and TBH it’s all hilariously hipster. The most obvious culprit is the Sous Vide Egg Bites, which are gluten-free and make Starbucks sound like they’re going for a Michelin star, but trust me when I say the newest drink, the cascara latte, is pretty fucking hipster too.
Let’s start with WTF cascara means. The important part of coffee is the bean (fucking duh), but first, you have to get through the fruit surrounding it—the cascara is just the outer shell. Usually, the coffee cherry is thrown away, but apparently, sometimes people dry the cascara and make some weird coffee/tea infusion out of it. Please allow me to point out that infusions are automatically +50 points on the scale of food hipsterdom.
Last week, Starbucks announced that the first new latte flavor of the year is based on this cascara infusion thing. The syrup is made of coffee cherry extract, coconut flavoring, and a fuckton of sugar, of course. Because that wasn’t hipster enough, words like “subtle” and “lightly sweet” were also tossed around with wild abandon. I remind you, this is fucking coffee, not a $500 bottle of wine.
Oh yeah, and the latte is sprinkled with a topping meant to look like a coffee bean, which is utterly pointless because it’s covered up with a lid. Will someone please tell Starbucks to stop trying so fucking hard?
The drink became available to Starbucks rewards members (so every betch ever) on January 6. Everyone else has to wait until January 10 to find out what hipster tastes like in coffee form.