I remember when my Aug. 28 birthday used to be a part of summer. It was the perfect time for beaches and barbecues, right before the start of school. But that all changed in 2018. It’s easy to blame corporate America for a lot of problems, but Starbucks is almost certainly the reason for my birthday’s fall from summer grace.
The coffee giant brought back its pumpkin spice latte earlier than ever that year — on my actual birthday. The seasonal drink’s cult-like following forced social media feeds and daily conversations to switch to pumpkins and apple picking in record time. And this year, the drink came out even earlier, on Aug. 25, beating its release record, and Dunkin’ topped Starbucks by dropping its own pumpkin drinks on Aug. 19.
An early fall season does not start and end with coffee. HomeGoods’ shelves were filled with fall decorations in the beginning of August. Pumpkin pie Kit Kats were spotted in stores as early as July.
Corporations have pushed the season forward every year, but an early fall can be complicated for consumers. Halloween, one of the best days of the year, is around the corner. In the Northeast, though, that means warm temperatures are essentially gone until May. Under normal circumstances, there’s nothing good about that fall forecast. However, 2020 has complicated this time of transition.
Summer gave some people their first sense of normalcy since March. It saved industries and individuals. Safe outdoor activities were easier to organize, and some sports were brought back. Summer also made outdoor dining possible, which enabled restaurants to reopen at varying capacities. If we are all condemned to the indoors again thanks to colder temperatures and a possible COVID-19, we will be wishing for this time again. By this logic, there’s no reason to bake pumpkin bread before Sept. 22, the official beginning of fall.
At the same time, many people had their summers ruined by the pandemic. They are naturally eager to follow big brands and jump into the next season. For struggling families and business owners alike, Halloween can be an especially perfect distraction, even if trick-or-treating isn’t be possible. Putting out extravagant decorations early to entertain onlookers has become a trend with a bigger meaning. People need more reasons to smile.
Corporations have made it acceptable to put up spiderwebs and tombstones months in advance, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, society shames those who want to celebrate the holiday season before Thanksgiving. Moving forward, we can acknowledge that Christmas and Halloween lovers hold the same sentiment — to spread some early cheer in a time of darkness.
I can’t stop hating corporations for unapologetically force-feeding us pumpkin spice in August, but COVID-19 has finally given consumers an excuse to speed ahead. We are all competing in a race to finish 2020 — and right now, the pumpkin spice latte seems to be winning. Releasing the drink may not actually make the year move faster, but it fills fans with a cozy fall feeling at a time when everyone needs some comfort. But I’m going to continue to savor my favorite summer stress relief, even if the rest of the world wants to jump into sweater weather.