There’s dead wrong.
There’s so wrong you hope your deceased parents were never exposed to it and if they were, you love and respect them even more for shielding you from it.
And then there’s crimes-against-nature wrong.
I’ll let you be the judge of which of the wrongs we should label this atrocity with: Pumpkin Spice Wild Bird Food.
Pumpkin Spice Bird Blend???
I saw this at Wal-Mart in Waveland, MS. Noooooo!
I know that pumpkin spice is a thing, a social movement, a gotta-have-mine-it’s-October pull of nature almost stronger than a biological clock, but geeeeez, trying to project that onto poor birds seems like a Big Bad Bird Wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m as pumpkin-spice nostalgic as the next person, remembering the gingerbread my Dad used to make in the fall, with its dollop of Cool Whip (yes, I said Cool Whip, and I KNOW that any of you who know I abhor fake food will be giving me the ‘you’re a hypocrite’ side-eye, but hey, childhood memories and all that).
Oh my, I was ranting about pumpkin spice bird seed, but now I’m lost in the Cool Whip and Gingerbread reminiscing. Dad used a Betty Crocker gingerbread mix in a box, by the way. Totally not how we foodies do things here at Glover Gardens, but you couldn’t pry the value of that memory away from me with a 10-foot crowbar and a snarling pumpkin spice-deprived Doberman.
Boxed mix and fake whipped cream aside, this is how I remember gingerbread moments with Dad … it was a crisp fall day and Dad had gotten home from work early and dived right into making a treat for my brother and me to enjoy after our band practice / football practice / cheerleading practice / debate practice, whatever it was we were doing. He did that sometimes, bless his fatherly heart. One of my cheerleader friends who lived further down the Bolivar Peninsula that we did dropped us off at home on her way to her after-school / after-practice job. We dragged our tired selves up the stairs and scraped open (not slid) the sticky-gritty sliding glass door on the deck of our on-stilts childhood home at the beach, and were instantly and very pleasantly assaulted by the happy and heady scent of the spicy gingerbread just coming out of the oven. “Drop your backpacks and sit right down on those bar stools, kiddos,” Dad would say, “and let me give you a big piece of this gingerbread while it’s hot”. With a big, gap-toothed grin he’d add, “how much Cool Whip do you want?” Not “do you want Cool Whip or not”, no sirree! A big dollop, that’s what we got. And Dad would have his, too. Sometimes he got playful and put a dollop of Cool Whip on his nose, or mine, or my brother’s.
Good times, my friend. Those memories conjure all that is right in the world, all that connects us to other people, all that I want to be as a person, all that I learned from my marvelous Dad.
Regardless of the boxed Betty Crocker mix and Cool Whip fake whipped cream reality, here’s how the gingerbread treat Dad made in those halcyon days looks in my rearview mirror of memory, courtesy of Sugar Spun Run.
The picture above perfectly captures now it felt to be the recipient of Dad’s gingerbread after-school treat.
But why are you writing about gingerbread when this post seems to be about pumpkin spice, you might ask?
Because of the sociological meaning of pumpkin spice.
According to The Food Institute, there’s a psychological connection to pumpkin spice: “Some industry experts suggest that this flavor profile is so popular because it evokes and capitalizes upon positive feelings associated with the fall season.” The article is below, if you’re interested.
Another article, in USA Today, says, “”The smells that are in a pumpkin spice latte are in lots of other things that are associated with this time of year very strongly — with positive memories like family Thanksgiving, or rustling fall leaves and going back to school”.
As you can see from my gingerbread meanderings, I feel that psychological connection of pumpkin spice with positive memories. And I know it is true for many others. There’s a line from an old TV show, Thirtysomething, that says, “why is it that all of our bonding seems to happen over nutmeg?” uttered during a Thanksgiving-based show while the womenfolk of the family were in the kitchen baking. I recognized the pumpkin-spice truth of that remark immediately and I think I’ve mentioned it here in Glober Gardens before. There’s something about cooking together during the holidays and that soothing, familiar smell of the pumpkin pie that signals all is right with the world, at least until the tryptophan from the turkey kicks in and everyone scatters like roaches in the light when it’s time to do the dishes.
But what is pumpkin spice, anyway? Google hits say that it’s some combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and sometimes allspice. The gingerbread recipe I shared above just has cinnamon, ginger and cloves, but it’s definitely in the pumpkin spice flavor family, don’t you think? For me, pumpkin spice has, at a minimum, cinnamon, nutmeg and at least one of the other spicy-spice spices: ginger, cloves, cardamom, allspice or even coriander (don’t judge!). I’m thinking of making my own fall spice mix, and maybe a gingerbread recipe with it… should I call it Zippy Pumpkin Spice? Or just Zippy Fall?
But I digress. My acknowledgement of the deep-rooted psychological pull of the taste and smell of pumpkin spice was a detour from the wrong-wrong-wrongness of that pumpkin spice birdseed at Wal-Mart.
What are they thinking?
That our backyard birds need flavored seed to bring back precious memories of Dad’s gingerbread or their bonding over Thanksgiving baking?
That they’ve been craving their PSLs (that’s code for Pumpkin Spice Lattes) and these fragrant seeds will give them the fix they’ve been waiting all summer for? Limited Time Only, my feathered friends!!
Birds don’t need no stinkin’ enhancement of their seeds! They’re purists! Just like the hummingbirds have NO use for red dye in their sugar water, cardinals and blue jays don’t need artificial pumpkin spice! Here’s one of the ingredient lists: Grain Products, Millet, Sunflower Seed, Pumpkin Seed, Artificial Flavor.
Artificial flavor?!! For wild birds?!!!!!
That’s wrong. Crimes-against-nature wrong, Big Bad Bird Wrong.
Let’s enjoy our gingerbread and PSLs and leave the bird feeders au naturale. Are you with me?
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