Starbucks created the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003. Ever since then, pumpkin spice has been known as the most popular flavor and scent of fall. In 2017, everything from M&M’s to Pringles has a pumpkin spice version and it seems that the flavor is taking over grocery stores everywhere.
Before 2003, the popularity of pumpkin flavoring was definitely not as prominent as it is today. At that time the only pumpkin flavored things were pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin seeds and things that have actual pumpkin in it.
Originally, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) was created as a fall beverage because the winter seasonal drinks at Starbucks were always a hit. The PSL became one of Starbucks’ most popular drinks and now Starbucks sells a multitude of pumpkin-flavored products ranging from coffee to scones.
After the birth of the PSL, there has only been an increase in popularity of pumpkin spice flavored goods, and once fall rolls around, grocery stores flood with pumpkin spice flavored cereal, cookies, chips and more. Many stores have entire sections dedicated to pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavored things during the fall.
There are a plethora of companies that take advantage of the popularity of pumpkin and make their pumpkin products “limited time only.” The limited time marketing tactic plays a huge role in the popularity of pumpkin flavored goods because it places the mindset “get it while it lasts” in the consumer’s head. According to The Conversation, a psychological theory called reactance theory explains why consumers react positively to limited time offers and usually buy more of that item.
“I think the fact that it is a limited time thing, that is what makes it so popular,” elementary teacher Ashley Fatout said. “Now that grocery stores have also jumped on the bandwagon, it makes pumpkin flavored things much more popular.”
Pumpkin spice is a popular flavor not only because it is mostly only available in the fall but also because of the mood it invokes. Many people enjoy pumpkin flavored and scented things because they bring people feelings of nostalgia, which can improve the consumer’s mood and provide a sense of comfort.
“I love pumpkin spice because it reminds me of the coziness of fall,” sophomore Emily Ostrander said. “I just love the flavor, it’s so good!”
Snacks and foods aren’t the only things with pumpkin spice alternatives. Recently, pumpkin spice has become a very popular scent for candles, perfumes and car fresheners. This recent popularity is undoubtedly a direct effect of the success of the PSL and other pumpkin flavored treats.
“I like the smell of pumpkin spice because it reminds me of fall, which is my favorite season,” sophomore Emma Franz said.
Even though pumpkin spice is extremely popular and can be found in almost every grocery store, people have mixed feelings about it. Some people love the scent and the flavor because it reminds them of the comfort that fall brings, but others don’t understand the craze.
“I don’t understand why pumpkin spice is such a big deal, especially the flavor of it,” sophomore Adrianna Luna said. “I can get the aesthetic of it because it’s probably pleasing since the color matches with fall. But the flavor of it, it’s just not good.”
Pumpkin spice in the fall is inevitable and inescapable. Some people love everything pumpkin spice flavored but others believe that the increase of pumpkin spice flavored foods is too excessive. Whether someone thinks the pumpkin spice trend is too much or not enough depends on their personal taste, but everyone can agree that pumpkin spice has overpowered the fall season.
Photo courtesy of Katheryn Buncik, CC license