If you don’t follow the Gregorian calendar or live in a place where you can’t see the seasons change, another great way to tell when the Fall season is approaching is by noticing the sudden pumpkin spice takeover. This delicious flavoring can be seen taking over menus, spice racks, and dishes all fall. Whether it’s the Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew from Starbucks, bread or empanadas from Trader Joes, or some homemade pumpkin spice pancakes, this spice has made its way into every dish and all of our hearts. The pumpkin spice craze began in 2003 when Starbucks first introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte. This simple, yet distinctive fall drink somehow led the spice to evolve into a $500 million annual industry.
The Golden Age of Pumpkin Spice
The beloved pumpkin spice dates back to The Dutch East India Company. Most spices in today’s blend—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves—are native to Southeast Asian islands. Some could be found exclusively on a few island groups that are now part of Indonesia. Before the iconic latte, pumpkin spice was simply the blend of spices used to flavor pumpkin pie. The earliest known reference to a similar “pumpkin” spice mixture can be found in a centuries-old cookbook first published when George Washington was president.
In the 1930s companies like Thompson & Taylor Spice Co. and McCormick & Company created the revolutionary product, a pre-blended mix of all of the spices. The birth of pumpkin pie spice sent bakers into a frenzy. The uses for the spice expanded far beyond pie. Eventually, pumpkin spice lattes became Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage, even though it didn’t even contain real pumpkins until 2015. Since its debut in 2003, Starbucks has sold more than 424 million pumpkin spice lattes in the United States alone.
Sweater Weather Staple
Pumpkin Spice and Fall have become synonymous. While it is most commonly thought of as being a latte flavor, the past decade has seen the fall phenomenon work its way into nearly every imaginable facet of the food and beverage industry. This year alone, U.S. store shelves are being graced with items such as Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, Toast Wellness’s pumpkin-infused CBD oil, limited edition Cup Noodles Pumpkin Spice, Jamba’s seasonal Pumpkin Smash Smoothie, and multiple pumpkin-flavored craft beers. It’s undeniable growing popularity can also explain why you might be seeing this flavor more often and earlier. Pumpkin Spice is mainly an American staple, but it has slowly crept its way into international markets as well- primarily in the coffee sector. The limit to this flavor uses literally does not exist.
Pumpkin Spice Passion
Are you a victim of the pumpkin spice spell? You aren’t the only one. Scientists have extensively researched what makes the spice so addicting. Researchers at John Hopkins University explain that the powerful scent of it is what makes it so irresistible. The smells of pumpkin spice are associated with cozy, nostalgic, positive memories that ultimately trigger the increased desire for all things pumpkin spice.
Another reason for its popularity is the scarcity factor. Since pumpkin spice is only readily available in the fall, the addition of the product in drinks or dishes plays a huge role in the consumer’s craving, motivating them to purchase it as much as they can. Even if it doesn’t seem like it could be pumpkin spice flavored- it probably can. Take advantage and try every fun flavored pumpkin spice creation while you can! Who wouldn’t want to relish in the comfort of pumpkin spice?
Chef Tony is a 42-year veteran of the food industry and is often known by his peers as “The New Product Guru.” Throughout his illustrious culinary career, he’s earned several notable titles and positions including Acquisition International’s “Most Influential Product Development Expert, U.S.” in 2019.
In 1997, Tony also founded Culinary Systems Inc., a group of culinary consultants that assist with culinary training, restaurant start-ups, concept development, and more. Since then, Tony and his team have generated over two billion dollars in sales for their clients in restaurants, retail, and manufacturing.
The strategic, technical, and culinary skills of Tony and his team can be seen on the menus of national chains, in the portfolio of national food manufacturers, and on the grocery shelves of products produced by major retail companies.