The start of September heralds many things. Kids reluctantly head back to school. The chill of impending autumn creeps into the air. And Starbucks resurrects the Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately known by its cult-like devotees as the PSL.
The return of the PSL brings up a lot of feelings. Some people adore it. Others revile it. But we can all agree on one thing: Starbucks knows how to market a fucking cup of coffee. The Pumpkin Spice Latte first rolled out as a test drink in 100 Starbucks stores in Vancouver, British Columbia and Washington D.C. during the fall of 2003. But it wasn’t until the following year that the drink went viral. Since then, it’s estimated the PSL has brought in $1.4 billion in sales. That’s enough dough to make even Linus think he could abandon sincerity and make a little cash while waiting for The Great Pumpkin to arrive.
As a flavor, “pumpkin spice” is a lot of things. Starbucks describes their Pumpkin Spice Latte as “our signature espresso and steamed milk with the celebrated flavor combination of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Enjoy it topped with whipped cream and real pumpkin pie spices.” But what is “real pumpkin pie spices” exactly? It’s obviously not the “pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove” they previously mentioned. SO WHAT IS IT?
The first commercial appearance of this mysterious “real pumpkin pie spice” came in the 1950s, when McCormick started mass-producing spices commonly used in pumpkin pie recipes: namely, “cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and sulfiting agents.” Because you know nothing conjures the warm, cozy feelings of fall like “sulfiting agents.”
For the next 50 years, “pumpkin pie spices” were mostly used in pumpkin pie-related desserts. Until Starbucks turned the flavor into that seasonal drink juggernaut. And now pumpkin spice is everywhere. And I mean LITERALLY everywhere. Pop over to Nana’s house and root through her purse. Pretty sure you’ll find some pumpkin spice Werther’s in there.
Or maybe you could head down to the gym and get in a leg day with this autumn-inspired protein powder.
I mean, do you even pumpkin-lift bro?
Feeling a little peckish after all that working out? How about some Greek food?
In the mood for Italian instead? Then cook up your favorite pasta and pour on a heaping helping of this saucesomeness.
Mmmm! Just like Mama Celeste used to make!
Maybe you don’t want to eat your pumpkin spice. That’s cool. You can wear it instead. Because nothing says “sick kicks” like these sneakers by Saucony that look like autumn puked on you.
As you can see, pumpkin spice is everywhere. This year the PSL rose like a phoenix from the ashes of summer during the last week in August. That’s a full week earlier than usual. Which can only mean one thing: the End Times are upon us. And if pumpkin spice can rear its omnipotent head at any time during the year, then what’s next? Peanut Butter & Pickle Twinkies?
Welp. We’re fucked.