College students across the country are settling back into school, and this can only mean one thing—fall is coming. Arguably the best season of the year is nearly here and if you listen closely enough, you just might hear basic college girls across the nation unpacking their sweaters and whispering about the release of the coveted pumpkin spice latte. As one of those girls, I got to wondering what is pumpkin spice and how has anyone ever lived without it?  

Though pumpkin spice has had a recent resurgence, it's been integral to our nation's history for quite some time. Here are the deets on pumpkin spice to hype you up for the season of crunchy leaves and woolly socks a little too far in advance.

What is pumpkin spice?

pumpkin, vegetable
Madison Keefer

Pumpkin spice is traditionally a powder consisting of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and ground cloves. Yes, you read that right: there isn't actually any pumpkin in pumpkin spice. This has a very understandable historical explanation however, as the spices combined to create pumpkin desserts and dishes became commercialized and labeled as "pumpkin pie spices." Over time, the pie aspect dropped, and it developed its modern day name. 

How pumpkin spice became popular

British colonists brought the spice to the United States where it quickly became commodified and associated with Thanksgiving. The spice became known as the undeniable autumn flavor that we have today, and was to be used in line with the pumpkin harvesting season.

As fall brings excitement for a new school year and an upcoming holiday season, it's no wonder that the spice, as well as the season, just keep getting trendier. Pumpkin spice has helped to advance the excitement for autumn in a way that almost mirrors the build up to Christmastime. We start thinking about Thanksgiving and pumpkin season in August, well before the leaves start changing. Every time the temperature drops, even just for a day, food industries promoting pumpkin spice far in advance are sure to make a profit.

Businesses that are maximizing on our pumpkin spice obsession include Halo Top, Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Cheerios, and M&Ms. 

pumpkin, sweet
Jocelyn Hsu

While I'm a big fan of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, the beloved drink doesn't showcase everything that pumpkin spice has to offer. Skip your Starbucks one day this Fall, and indulge in a day of baking. Try making pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice blondies, pumpkin spice pretzels, or any of these 10 pumpkin spice recipes that will make your fall just as delicious as it is beautiful. If you don't have time to bake an elaborate dessert, try out these pumpkin spice granola bars or these pumpkin spice roasted almonds

As syllabus week comes to a close and classes start to pick up steam, have no fear. Pretty soon we won't all be drenched in sweat from walking across campus, and our summertime sunburns will have time to heal. In the coming weeks, I wish you sweet dreams of leggings, oversized sweatshirts, hot drinks, and pretty leaves—pumpkin spice season is on it's way.