It’s that time of year again! The leaves are falling, the air is getting crisp, and pumpkins are everywhere you turn. Even though pumpkins have been around for centuries, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that pumpkin spice became synonymous with fall. So, how did this humble gourd become the unofficial flavor of autumn? Here are seven spicy facts about pumpkin spice:
1. What is Pumpkin Spice?
Pumpkin spice is a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.
2. Where did Pumpkin Spice Come From
Pumpkin spice has its origins in medieval Europe, where cooks would use a blend of spices like cloves, ginger, and nutmeg to add flavor to their dishes. This spice blend eventually made its way to the Americas with the English settlers, who used it to flavor everything from pies to puddings.
3. Hitting the Modern Market
It wasn’t until the early last century that pumpkin spice became marketed as a single item to the mass market. Food and Wine reports that in the 1930s, “spice manufacturing companies like Thompson & Taylor Spice Co and McCormick & Company came out with a revolutionary product: Pumpkin Pie Spice, a pre-blended mix that meant bakers could buy one spice instead of several.”
4. Birth of the Pumpkin Spice Latte
In the early 2000s, Starbucks debuted its now-famous Pumpkin Spice Latte. This drink was an instant hit, and people began clamoring for pumpkin flavored everything—pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin muffins, you name it. Starbucks sold over 200 million PSLs in the first ten years of selling them.
5. The Pumpkin Spice Economy is Valued at about a Half-Billion Dollars a Year
In 2015, Forbes did an analysis of the pumpkin spice market which now stretches beyond Starbucks to McDonalds and other coffee chains. They found that, “annual sales of pumpkin-flavored food, drinks and novelties — at more than $500 million this year.”
6. Trader Joe’s has had over 45 Pumpkin Products
According to the Krazy Koupon Lady, Trader Joe’s has at some point or another stocked dozens of pumpkin products, including Pumpkin Spice Hummus, Pumpkin 4-Cheese Greek Style Dip, Pumpkin Spice Cream Liqueur, a Pumpkin Overnight Face Mask, Pumpkin Empanadas, and, believe it or not, regular ol’ orange pumpkins.
7. A lot of People Love Pumpkin Spice, but Some are Over It
There are haters out there, and they’re not small in number: “Americans are experiencing pumpkin spice burnout: More than 1 in 3 (37%) Americans surveyed in August, before peak pumpkin spice season even started, said they were already tired of hearing about pumpkin spice,” reports to Fox43.
Pumpkin spice may have humble beginnings, but today it’s one of the most popular flavors in America. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that pumpkin spice is here to stay. So next time you’re cozied up with a steaming cup of pumpkin spice latte, take a moment to appreciate this delicious (and sometimes controversial) flavor. And if you’re curious about all the other offerings at your local café, check out our guide to the different kinds of coffee drinks.
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