Pumpkin Spice is Back and so is Fall
For the Minnesotan, fall is the perfect time of year. Not too hot, not too cold. The roads aren’t slippery and all of the trees explode in gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, and red. Apple orchards and pumpkin patches offer steaming cups of cider and old fashioned hay-bale rides and of course there’s the obvious: AVNS limited edition fall soaps are back in stock with Pumpkin Spice (even better than a pumpkin spice latte? You’ll have to find out), Black Licorice, and Spice Cake!
Yes, you heard right. Our mouthwatering fall soaps are ready for consumption and this time they’ve got a blog to go with them. While the popular scents of our fall bars seem like a no-brainer, there’s a fascinating history behind the popular fall ingredients we probably take for granted. This week I dug deep to learn everything there was about pumpkins and black licorice and I think their ancient roots and unknown beauty benefits will really surprise you.
The History of the Pumpkin
So who was the first person to say, “Hey, let’s scoop out the inside of this giant orange fruit, carve out shapes in its sides, and stick a candle inside!”? Thanks to an enlightening article on the History Channel Website, I learned that the first Jack O’ Lanterns originated in Ireland and were not made from candles in pumpkins but coals in carved turnips (pumpkins weren’t native to Ireland). According to a spooky Irish folktale, a man by the name of Stingy Jack (sound a little like a certain Mr. Scrooge?) made a string of deals with the Devil and when it came time for him to pass into the afterlife neither God nor the Devil were willing to open their gates to the stingy, conniving man. Instead, “The Devil sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth ever since.”
Whoa, that’s pretty spooky, and apparently the Irish thought so too because it became a tradition for them to leave their own carved turnips glowing brightly in their windows to ward off the spirit of Stingy Jack. I’m just thankful that the God I know is way more forgiving than the version in the story. And speaking of thankfulness, what about thanksgiving and pumpkin pie?
The History Channel filled me in. Pumpkins are native to Mexico and Central America, although they’ve been grown in North America for five thousand years. The first pumpkin pies probably looked more like sweet squash casseroles than the pie crust and custard filling we are used to today.
Beauty Benefits of Pumpkin
According to an article in MYSA for DIY Pumpkin Face masks, “Pumpkin contains vitamin A, C, and E, and antioxidants, which help fight sun damage and wrinkles. It also has fruit enzymes that help naturally exfoliate dead skin cells. Finally, it contains zinc and potassium to combat redness.” Our Pumpkin Spice Hand and Body Soap is stuffed with real pumpkin puree! If you love your pumpkin spice at Starbucks you’ll love this bar.
The History of Black Licorice
Today there seems to be two camps of thought, I’ve often heard it said that people who don’t like black licorice will not go anywhere near it, while people who do like it LOVE it. Is there really no in between? I guess I wouldn’t know since I absolutely LOVE black licorice and could not be more excited that AVNS has devoted an entire bar to the sweet, chewy black candy. It’s not all about the candy though, there’s more to Licorice than meets the eye.
For those who don’t like black licorice, maybe you’ll consider giving it another whiff when you learn that it holds a revered spot throughout history.
According to blog written by the Candy Warehouse, Licorice can be traced through the following ancient dynasties:
“Great quantities were found with the fabulous treasures of King Tut, and other Egyptian rulers — for it was believed that the licorice could be used to prepare a sweet drink in the next world.”
“The Chinese (dating back 5,000 years) maintained that eating the root would give them strength and endurance. Licorice still holds a prominent place in Chinese herbal combinations since it is believed to harmonize with the action of other herbs.”
“Alexander the Great, the Scythian armies, Roman Emperor Caesar, and even India’s great prophet, Brahma, are on record endorsing the beneficial properties contained in licorice. Warriors used it for its ability to quench thirst while on the march, while others (including Brahma and venerable Chinese Buddhist sages), recognized licorice’s valuable healing properties.”
*Twizzlers and Red Vines are referred to as licorice, but do not actually contain licorice root. Please consider this before trying to add them to your beauty routine!
Beauty Benefits of Black Licorice
According to an article in Root Science, “The anti-inflammatory properties of licorice root help reduce skin conditions that cause: puffiness, rashes, redness, swelling, and itching.” Our Black Licorice Hand, Foot, and Body Soap is also made with black walnut, regarded to be useful in the treatment of skin diseases and complaints such as eczema, ringworm, athlete’s foot etc. It’s long been used as a natural remedy for acne, canker sores, psoriasis and other fungal infections.
Food For Thought
I hope you found the histories of these commonplace foods as fascinating as I did! I love learning about cultural folklore, how about you? Sorry there wasn’t much about spice cake, the origins and history are largely unknown except for sources dating back to ancient Egypt. At least there are plenty of recipes for spice cake available (or if baking isn’t your thing just go for the soap!)