FALL-ing For Pumpkin Spice
Can we agree to disagree? No, we’re not talking politics – we’re talking pumpkin spice.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Fall has become the season of pumpkin, or more specifically pumpkin spice; which Red absolutely loves for various reasons while, for Black, besides the fact she doesn’t like the flavor, it just screams, well, MARKETING.
Yes, Red will admit that having pumpkin, one of the strongest symbols of fall, appear in August (thanks Starbucks, Dunkin’, and Cup Noodles, yes, pumpkin spice flavored noodles!) while we’re still in the midst of sweltering summer heat is a bit much. But she loves how it reminds her of growing up in the northeast, with the first crisp mornings and the onset of early and chilly evenings. With childhood memories of raking mounds of leaves only to jump in and scatter them, and then repeating the process. (Which Black has pointed out is now deemed dangerous, something Red plans to conveniently forget when she travels down memory lane).
But mostly, the sight of pumpkins reminds her of picturesque pumpkin farms and the brilliance of fall foliage, which, now that Labor Day weekend is behind us and her thoughts turn to fall, is what she misses most. So, short of jumping in the car to take a road trip to see fall foliage, she’ll have to settle for the tastes that remind her of fall, which won’t be difficult given all the pumpkin spice options.
Although this year, there’s one that has special meaning for Red,
When the girls were growing up, even though it was in Texas, one of their favorite fall “treats” were pumpkin spice Oreo cookies. But they stopped making them in 2017, the year that Natasha moved overseas. So, when I learned they’re coming back this year, it made me smile. I’ll be stocking up on them so I can send them to the girls, although I have a feeling I’ll have to ration them.
Black appreciates how much all of this means to Red, and even tracked down some of the new limited-edition pumpkin spice graham crackers Goldfish (a partnership between Dunkin’ and Pepperidge Farms) before they were publicly available as a surprise for her 60th birthday. But that doesn’t stop Black from rolling her eyes at all the people who have succumbed to the pumpkin spice marketing machine, and the seemingly endless list of pumpkin spice products (besides food and beverage, there are air fresheners and candles, but hair color?!).
I am not going to get into the science of why people are obsessed with pumpkin spice or the fact it is a $500-million-a-year business. Interestingly, it started in 2003 when Starbucks introduced the pumpkin spice latte, now commonly called PSL, although pumpkin spice has been around for over 200 years. So, it is not a new concept, but does show you the power of marketing.
P.S. – Given all this talk about pumpkin spice, you might be surprised to learn that it doesn’t even have pumpkin as an ingredient.
Today’s a national holiday … for a reason. And although it may be a day of fun, festivities, and maybe even relaxation, it’s important to stop and think about the true meaning of the day …
We all “celebrate” Memorial Day differently, but we all should remember it’s a day to honor those who gave their lives serving this country.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, and Red remembers celebrating over the years with family get-togethers, barbeques, and pool parties; whereas Black “celebrates” most holidays by having a quiet day to work uninterrupted, but it’s important never to forget the significance of the holiday.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the festivities, but as a lover of history, I was fascinated to learn the history of Memorial Day goes back to the Civil War. But what’s most important is that we each find a way to remember that Memorial Day honors those men and women who’ve given their lives for this country.While Black believes,
Today is a day to put aside politics and think about patriotism. It is about gratitude. About sacrifice. About honoring those who paid the greatest price for believing in something that is bigger than all of us.
Think about what the day means to you or read the words of others who pay respect to fallen members of the military (here and here). And join us in observing the National Moment of Remembrance at 3:00 p.m. local time.
If you’re looking for a reason not to mow, there’s logic behind letting it grow …
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: As is often the case, Red hadn’t heard of the latest trend, “No Mow May,” which is all about lawn maintenance (or the lack of it) until Black started sending her articles about it.
Growing up on Long Island, everyone in our neighborhood wanted a lush, green lawn. It wasn’t until we were older that we realized how much time and money it required to achieve it. That it doesn’t just happen. But now, it has become the latest environmental issue.
At first, Red thought that not cutting your lawn for an entire month might be a joke. But then she read a few articles (here and here) explaining how leaving your yard alone could help Mother Nature by positively impacting bees and other pollinators. Plus, giving your lawn a rest from fertilizers, lawn mowers, and leaf blowers is good for the environment.
It made sense to Red, except right now, she’s been working hard to turn a collection of bare patches in her front yard into an “acceptable” lawn,
My yard’s a mess. Weeds so numerous they look like ground cover, just enough grass to suggest there might be hope, and big, beautiful oak trees that insist on “drinking” all the water. Which means I’m having to deal with my homeowner’s association (HOA) and their “dire” letters of warning. (This isn’t an exaggeration, as anyone who lives under a strict HOA knows all too well.)
Red doubted she could stall the HOA with an environmental excuse, but remembered that when she lived in England, she was struck by how yards seemed more natural vs. “perfectly landscaped” – what she thought of as a carefully planned mess. So, she now wondered if the English were onto something way before “No Mow May” ever came along.
Black admits to having a black thumb (seems rather appropriate) and claims she could kill a silk plant, but that didn’t stop her from wanting to know whether “No Mow May” was as beneficial as it sounded,
Of course, there are pros and cons to “No Mow May.” Interestingly, neither side disputes the importance of the underlying logic behind the first two words (“No Mow”), but as an ongoing approach, not a one-month experiment.
If you’ve never thought about May Day, don’t worry, most of us haven’t.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: Red appreciates that some holidays have historical significance, some have ancient traditions, and some are opportunities for one of Black’s unexpected, but often amusing and clever, comments, but May Day checks all those boxes.
As soon as Black mentioned pole dancing, Red, a lover of movies, immediately thought of “Hustlers.” No, not “ The Hustler,” the 1961 classic with Paul Newman as a small-time pool hustler. Instead, “Hustlers,” the 2019 release with Jennifer Lopez about pole dancing hustlers that showed it took more than a desire to make money, but skill and athleticism.
But Red had no idea the significance of May Day Maypole dancing. When she lived in England, May Day was a bank holiday, and she knew it had a long history that went back to the Celts, but that’s all she knew. Until recently, when she learned it’s an ancient and festive holiday filled with history and folklore, started by the Celts who thought May 1st was the most important day of the year as it separated the year into light and dark.
Which explains the beginning of a celebration of spring with singing, dancing, and bonfires that still continues. However, it doesn’t explain how in the late 19th century, May Day became known as International Workers’ Day to celebrate workers and promote labor rights.
And what about the Maypoles? Well, as Red discovered,
It was during the Middle Ages when the now famous Maypoles were believed to become popular, not only to welcome in spring but as a symbol of fertility, as the pole symbolized male fertility, with baskets and wreaths symbolizing female fertility.
When Red felt the need to share all this history with Black, her sister couldn’t help but respond with,
Although this has nothing to do with May Day, all I can say is “ Mayday. Mayday.” Which, if you do not speak French, is based on m’aider and means “Help me.”