The Violent Past of Pumpkin Spice

Each year, as fall approaches, a beloved experience returns - the delightful scent and flavor of pumpkin spice.

Oct 7, 2023 - 17:20
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The Violent Past of Pumpkin Spice

Each year, as fall approaches, a beloved experience returns - the delightful scent and flavor of pumpkin spice. This aroma, previously enjoyed only for short periods of time, is now increasingly used to flavor everything from pancakes to lotion.

However, behind the sweet aroma of pumpkin spice lies a troubled past. Historians trace the dish’s violent heritage back to the 1500s in Europe and early New England. Pumpkin has been utilized and celebrated in American culture for centuries, but only recently has it begun to be associated with aggression and bloodshed.

Throughout the mid-1800s and beyond, pumpkin spice became a symbol of violence and hatred in the United States. The dish was a frequent ingredient in lynching parties, where it was used to whip up a sense of hysteria and animosity. During the civil unrest of Reconstruction, pumpkin spice was a prominent feature in troops and military fortifications.

In addition to its place in warfare, pumpkin spice was also used to create a sense of inequality. In the Jim Crow-era, it was used to enforce segregation laws and was often found in the weapons and ammunition of Ku Klux Klan members.

Today, pumpkin spice has changed. As the dish has become increasingly popularized and commodified, the history of its past is slowly slipping away. Although the traditional recipe has remained unchanged, its significance and implications have been greatly transformed.