Fall is here, and so is Pumpkin Spice, Everything.

As with every year, the leaves start to wilt, the temperature begins to fall, and pumpkins on doorsteps. That’s not the only place pumpkin can be found this time a year.


What would seem to be an ever-expanding trend, is the infusion of pumpkin spice in everything. From latte’s to baked goods and even dog treats, we have become obsessed with pumpkin spice. Why is this and when did pumpkin spice become a thing? Grab a pumpkin spice latte and keep reading, we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of pumpkin spice.

What is Pumpkin Spice? To many, the answer might surprise you, but pumpkin spice does not contain any pumpkin at all. Pumpkin spice is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg & allspice. Traditionally combined with mashed pumpkin and other ingredients to make pumpkin pie.


One of the earliest known mentions of pumpkin spice was by the Washington Post in 1936 publishing a recipe for Pumpkin Spice Cakes. Fast forward to 1960 the McCormick spice company began blending and selling pumpkin pie spice and consumers couldn’t get enough of it. The love of pumpkin spice began growing from here, though much of the 21st-century pumpkin spice craze can be attributed to, you guessed it, Starbucks.

After the successful 2002-2003 debut of the seasonal “Peppermint Mocha”, then product manager Peter Dukes was tasked with creating a new fall drink that would capture the same success markers of the Peppermint Mocha. So in the spring of 2003 Dukes and his team entered the infamous “Liquid Lab” at Starbucks Seattle headquarters and got to work.


Interestingly enough the group had 20 possible fall latte flavors and according to their survey data, Pumpkin Spice wasn’t going to be one of them. When the time came to narrow down the list to four flavors that would be pitched to the higher-ups, going against the data, the team decided to include the Pumpkin Spice Latte in the final four, deeming it, to interesting, and unique of an idea to leave behind. The higher-ups thought so too, and so the team began development.

Company lore has it Dukes and his team gathered, drank espresso, and ate pumpkin pie. This is how they nailed down the perfected flavor profile. When released in the fall of 2003 it was immediately obvious, it was a hit. Dukes is quoted as saying “Within the first week of the market test, we knew we had a winner, Back then,” he continued, “we would call store managers on the phone to see how a new beverage was doing, and you could hear the excitement in their voices.” and so the Pumpkin Spice Latte was born.


According to the company, it’s their top-selling seasonal beverage of all time, and companies of all shapes and sizes took notice. The ensuing trend of pumpkin spice has spread far and wide since that fateful fall 17 years ago, quite literally spreading into every market in some way or some form, as companies try to tap into that vein Dukes and his colleagues uncovered years ago.


Love it or hate it, Pumpkin spice has become a popular seasonal marker and we don’t foresee it going away anytime soon.