It seems as if our seasonal dismay over excessive pumpkin spice has abated somewhat. We’re tired of being annoyed when we see Pumpkin Spice Borscht and Pumpkin Spice Charcoal Briquettes. “Fine. We get it: It’s October.”
Maybe our complaining is starting to run its course. Or, perhaps we have a limited amount of energy to care, because the news feels like an enormous leech attached our heads. We get nostalgic for the time when people could express actual annoyance over the issue. Look at those people complaining about Pumpkin Spice Motor Oil without a care in the world!
For years, I was annoyed by the over-Halloweening of October. It would be the middle of September, and you’d have motion-activated skeletons screaming at you in the Target aisles. If I wanted that, I’d move to a Miami Beach retirement community.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have cereal with scary shapes. “Mom, it’s the first of October, shouldn’t my breakfast reflect the banal, denatured occultism of the season? Shouldn’t my cereal be scary?”
“You want scary? Here’s your Wheaties and a magazine article about the Cuban missile crisis.”
“No, I mean scary shapes.”
“OK, here’s a miniature marshmallow. Imagine it’s a white blood cell trying to cope with a Soviet biological weapon.”
Then came the trio: Count Chocula, an undead nobleman who expected to bite people’s necks and drink Quik; Boo Berry, the ghost of a deceased fruit farmer, I guess, and Franken Berry, who was cobbled together from the corpses of strawberries.
Now every cereal seems compelled to issue a seasonal variant. Cap’n Crunch: Oops! All Horrorberries With Spooky Glow-in-the-Dark Hallow-Mallow Shapes! The spooky shapes are indistinct blobs of sugar-dusted baked Styrofoam that might look like a ghost, so kids can drown their ectoplasmic forebears in milk and eat them.
Future historians will conclude this was some strange ritual that combined ancestor worship and the suckling of infants. “Those 21st-century people were into some strange stuff,” they’ll say. “How carefree they seem, not having to worry about the return of the Spider-wolves from Dimension Z.”
Anyway: Minnesota is to blame for the Choc and his gang, because General Mills invented the characters. It’s a wonder they’ve never given Betty Crocker the zombie makeup treatment; she’d be a hit in commercials. “Now a lot of you are wondering what’s a quick, simple way to prepare brains! I like to dust them in Gold Medal Flour ... and add some ground pumpkin spice.”