Why Have We Gone Pumpkin Spice Crazy?

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It was headline news – Starbucks was going to begin selling their pumpkin spice lattes in August. This was a first – something that had never been done before. People went crazy… in some news stories  the PSL (short for pumpkin spice latte) was described as ‘fall in a cup’ and its early release described as ‘kind of like Christmas Eve.’ It even inspired its own twitter account @TheRealPSL which began tweeting clues to ‘unlock’ the beverage early, making it available to everyone visiting the store. It even began branding the PSL, with this cute image.

Images like this ended up on Instagram, but the news wasn’t all good. Within a few days there was more headline news and it was big: there wasn’t any actual pumpkin in Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte. The scandal (?!) was reported by several news outlets and inspired articles that condemned and attempted to dissect the latte and possible health hazards. 

When did we become pumpkin spice crazy?

Crisp mornings and leaves changing to the gorgeous yellows and oranges that we see in Southeast Ohio are hard to hate, for sure. I’m a fan of pumpkin things (pumpkin roll with cream cheese icing = LOVE!) but in recent years the pumpkin love has hit epic craziness, and it seems Starbucks Pumpkin Spice lattes inspired this trend when it came out in 2003.


A simple search for pumpkin spice on Google images brings about more pumpkin products than what anyone could image. 

Everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon and you can find just about any item you can think of in pumpkin spice flavor these days: pumpkin spice cream cheese, flavored butter, Pringles potato chips, (that’ll make you say, huh?) Jello pudding, Oreo cookies, Hershey’s kisses, M&Ms, Chobani greek yogurt, craft beers, coffee creamers and even liquor. And the list could go on and on..  

There was even a mock condom wrapper with a ‘limited edition’ pumpkin spice circulating on the Internet. 

Durex quickly shot down that rumor, with a little humor.


But, many believe that there may be some truth to the thought that pumpkin spice’s popularity is all because of the feelings it evokes.

According to this Fortune magazine article some believe its popularity may be because it “taps into a paradox of human desire.” One hypothesis is that in a culture that has lost some traditions, “people are seeking out forms of comfort and security that they had as children” and the smell of pumpkin spice brings them back to those moments. Here is Starbucks management talking about the Pumpkin Spice latte craze and why they believe the product has been such a big seller. 



Whatever the reason is, it looks like the love of pumpkin spice is here to stay. If you’d like to try to make your own pumpkin spice latte at home, one with REAL pumpkin, here’s a recipe.