Pumpkin Spice

Photo by Mike Mozart (CC)

A blend of spices made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice, pumpkin spice dates back to at least the 1790s and has become such an American staple that it produces sales of $500 million a year and has invaded everything, including our coffee.

While there are recipes for muffins, cakes, pretzels, cookies, mousse, fudge, the iconic pie, and more, they are all food dishes and make a certain amount of sense. But how did that spicy mix end up in our coffee?

Well, it turns out that it’s a corporate invention, from our friends at the ubiquitous Starbucks company. Coming off the success of seasonal offerings such as peppermint mocha and eggnog latte, they wanted something for Fall. Upon product testing pumpkin spice was a surprise entry, holding its own against chocolate and caramel.

In a Canadian connection, Vancouver was a test market in 2003 where it was a sell-out smash hit. Now Starbucks’ most popular seasonal, over 200 million have been sold in 15 years, and everyone offers pumpkin spice beverage, from tea to beer.

Fun fact: there is no pumpkin in Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s all in the name!