Is pumpkin spice an addiction? Maybe not, but it’s not the opposite either

(WHTM) — Americans are drinking and eating a lot of pumpkin-spice everything this time of year, so could it actually be an addiction?

Not exactly, according to one WellSpan Psychiatrist. But, he says, marketers are taking advantage of a strong link we develop in our brains between our senses, like taste, and the experiences we have at the same time.

“It is how our minds work,” Dr. J.P. Shand, a psychiatrist at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, said. “This is the way that we associate our environment to our memories. And when we have the opportunity to have a really potent flavor scent introduced to us, we can exhibit all of these memories and feelings associated with that. And people love fall.”

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Pumpkin spice is also sold only for a “limited time only” and scarcity does increase value.

“And when you have a time-limited, let’s say, a piece in time, you relate this flavor to, you start making these associations what we call contextual memories,” Shand said. “And these contextual memories are able to be manipulated by marketers who say, ‘For a finite time, only for a limited time, please come and get this.'”

Limited-edition items surround us all the time, too: there are holiday decorations, Oreo flavors, and other fast-food offerings, to name a few.

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Hard to believe now, but Shand noted that America’s current pumpkin-spice obsession took hold in less than two decades: The trend started just 20 years ago in 2003, with Starbucks debuting their Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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