The Pumpkinization of Everything


Cary, NC — On a recent trip to the supermarket, my daughter and I counted 44 pumpkin products for sale. As it turned out, I had under-counted.

Blame It on the PSL

Jill was home for the weekend from the University of South Carolina. More accurately, we thought she was home for the weekend, but it turned into a week due to the catastrophic flooding in Columbia, SC.

It was Sunday, the day after it had rained 16.6″ in Columbia. The sun was shining bright in Cary. “You’ll be out of school for a week,” I said at breakfast.

“Noooo,” Jill dismissed the notion. We went to Trader Joe’s on Kildare Farm Road to load her up on some groceries for her apartment.

I had seen the growing pumpkinization of the grocery shelves during my weekly shopping trips. Readers of this space will know I usually go to three supermarkets on a given Saturday.

This time, I decided to count the pumpkin products for sale. I had nothing better to do. I’d already completed the family shopping on Saturday, so this trip was strictly for Jill. I was just pushing the cart and swiping my credit card.

There were pumpkin chips and pumpkin energy bars. Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin cakes and pumpkin ale. Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pancake Mix. Pumpkin Soup.

When I was a wee lad, we only had two things made of pumpkin – canned pumpkin and actual pumpkins. The canned pumpkin was for pies, and the actual pumpkins were for jack-o-lanterns. That was all.

My family credits this trend to Starbucks. They had monster success with the Pumpkin Spice Latte, now known simply as the PSL. Others stampeded in hot pursuit.

Looking ahead, I see whole stores catering to pumpkins, like we have for Christmas. A pop-up store in the mall, stocking a few thousand must-have items for the Halloween Season. Maybe it’s already happening.

I counted 44 pumpkin items on my trip around the supermarket. “How many pumpkin items do you have in the store?” I asked the cashier.

“64,” she said, without missing a beat. I told her how many I had counted. “That’s pretty good,” she said. “Some of the items go out of stock right away.”

We exited the store. I pushed the cart. Jill looked at her phone. “School’s closed tomorrow,” she said.

We’d be back at Trader Joe’s the next Sunday to load up on bottled water and dried goods for her trip back to Columbia.

Editor’s Note

Here at CaryCitizen, we love our supermarkets. The following photos could have been taken anywhere – Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Publix. So we are not implying any criticism of Trader Joe’s, one of our favorite Cary stores. The pumpkin macaroons were delicious.

But what do you think of the Pumpkinization of the grocery store? Love it? Hate it? Have your say in the comments to the story.









Story and photos by Hal Goodtree.

2 replies
  1. Jessica Patrick
    Jessica Patrick says:

    I love the pumpkinization of everything! It’s a little silly, yes, but it’s delicious – so why not? What’s very interesting is all the money brands and businesses make off of pumpkinization. Stores and coffee shops only sell the stuff for a couple months out of the year, so people go crazy for it. That’s a great marketing plan, but the reality is that you can buy cans of pumpkin puree at the grocery store year-round. If people really like pumpkin, they can make their own pumpkin bread, and even their own pumpkin spice lattes, any time they want!

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