Wednesday was the big day for trick-or-treaters, whose enthusiastic fans are children of all ages with a creative urge for crazy costumes.
While it’s usually good fun for youngsters, it’s serious business for stores. The National Retailers Federation predicted Americans spent almost $88 a person just on Halloween as they scooped up candy, costumes, cards, and decorations.
Trick-or-treat hijinks are one thing. But Halloween also marked what is, for me, anyway the last unofficial day of summer.
We know autumn began more than a month ago, but the weatherman wasn’t totally on board then. Weak cold fronts do occasionally herald the changing of seasons, but temperatures predictably rebound to almost summer-like conditions. However, the weather roller-coaster has indeed begun now, and with it comes the start of legitimate fall-like conditions.
In recent years, October has become a time for marketing experts to start pitching pumpkin spice products. This seemed premature at first, but as Halloween neared, all things pumpkin started making sense — unless you’re not so inclined. As I wrote this time last year, I’m not so inclined.
Retailers like to jump the gun a lot this time of year, or so it seems, which is why you see Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas decorations on the shelves all at once starting around Labor Day.
I once thought this was a travesty, but I fell victim every year. Before I could complain, I found myself writing a different year on my checks. Yes, some of us still write checks, rather than paying everything online.
Now that Halloween is behind us, all bets are off. We will soon set our clocks back an hour, attend high school football playoff games, observe Thanksgiving, shop for Christmas gifts, and celebrate the year-ending holidays of Advent, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. By then, 2018 will have already slipped into the history books.
Holidays such as these sometimes seem like hot potatoes. The build-up before such events can be lengthy — sometimes too lengthy — but once they’ve come and gone, it’s over. Someone turns off a switch. How long have we been hearing about the costumes people are going to wear, and how long have we seen orange and black candy for sale at stores? On Thursday this week, everything you needed on Wednesday night was marked down to half-price or better, clearing the way for the next big holiday. And the next.
It’s no wonder I feel like I’m running behind. However, when it comes to pumpkin spice, I won’t be that lucky. I’m confident the peddlers of those items are going to give me plenty of time to climb aboard their bandwagon.
I don’t really like pumpkin spice, but it appears it has become the primary way we’re supposed to experience autumn. Did I miss the law requiring manufacturers to add pumpkin spice to their products and show solidarity with the season?
We have pumpkin spice coffees, cookies, crackers, ice creams, cereals, snack bars, yogurt, butter, peanut butter, and cough drops.
What’s even worse is pumpkins have nothing to do with it. I ruminated a year ago that the enhancements powering this pumpkin craze are actually a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
I enjoy cinnamon in breakfast pastries, and ginger in cookies. Nutmeg and cloves have their places, but stirred together? No thanks.
This may actually linger past Christmas. They’re even selling pumpkin spice eggnog.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.