Star Wars's "spice" wins the award for best euphemism of all time — let's just say it's not the cinnamon in your pantry. The Rise of Skywalker introduces us to Keri Russell's Zorii Bliss, Poe Dameron's old friend who happens to be the leader of a gang called the Spice Runners of Kijimi. As we find out, Poe used to be a spice smuggler alongside her. But let's backtrack for a moment. What exactly is spice? Long story short, spice encompasses a range of mind-altering drugs.
Where Is Spice Found?
Spice is mostly found on the planet Kessel, which has a very noxious environment. Spice mining here is quite dangerous, so operations rely on slave labor. Kessel has a sought-after strain called glitterstim, which has very sharp threads. Spice faces strict Empire regulation, so smugglers go through the Kessel Run to transport it to black markets.
Where Have We Heard About Spice Before in the Star Wars Universe?
A New Hope mentions spice three times. First, C-3PO panics over potentially being sent to the spice mines of Kessel. Luke later mentions that his uncle told him that his father was a navigator on a spice freighter. Then there's Han Solo, who has a price on his head because he crossed Jabba the Hutt by dumping a shipment of spice to avoid trouble with the Empire.
Speaking of Han, Kessel is also a significant part of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which mentions spice, but focuses mainly on coaxium, a rare hyperfuel. Helping Tobias Beckett repay a bet, Han suggests a plan to go to Kessel to steal coaxium. During their escape, Han and Chewbacca pilot through the Kessel Run to avoid an Empire blockade.
Where Did the Idea For Spice Come From?
The idea of spice isn't entirely original to Star Wars. Spice plays a big part in Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, Dune, which strongly influenced George Lucas. Herbert's story takes place on an uninhabitable planet that is known for being the only source of spice (also called melange), a drug that extends life and expands consciousness. Retrieving spice is, like in Star Wars, dangerous, due to obstacles such as attacking nomads, sandstorms, and giant sand worms.