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How Pumpkin Spice Became the Flavor of Fall

Posted by Sarah Simonovich on

One of the best things about changing seasons is enjoying seasonal food and beverages. While most flavors can be enjoyed year-round, certain ones are best enjoyed during specific times of year. Peppermint is huge in the winter, and fruity flavors like watermelon are big in the summer. When it comes to fall, though, there is one flavor you can’t help but encounter everywhere: pumpkin spice.

Pumpkins are humble squash plants. We carve them for jack-o’-lanterns, we roast and eat their seeds, and now we use them to flavor everything from coffee and beer to cereal and dog treats.

How did pumpkin spice get so popular?

Most attribute the pumpkin spice revolution to Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte. The original PSL was conceived in 2003. The Eggnog Latte and Peppermint Mocha were already holiday favorites and the research and development team wanted to add a new drink to their fall lineup. After trial and error, they created the pumpkin spice latte recipe that would start a cultural revolution: pumpkin spice sauce with cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg; handcrafted espresso; steamed milk; whipped cream; and a dash of pumpkin pie topping. 

Note: today, Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte actually contains real pumpkin, too.

By the 2004 fall season, the pumpkin spice latte was in all U.S. stores. It has maintained its popularity fifteen years later and has set pumpkin spice as fall’s most popular flavor.

Pumpkin spice

While pumpkin spice is a relatively new trend, it is a very old spice mix. And, just like Starbuck’s original PSL recipe, no pumpkins are usually involved in creating the spice mixture. Rather, pumpkin enters the scene because it’s what we have associated these flavors with for a long time (the biggest example, of course, being pumpkin pie).

Long before you could pick up plastic bottles of spice mixes at your local grocery store, spices were an expensive item imported from other parts of the world. Since most people couldn’t afford to regularly keep such expensive items on hand until the 20 th century, spiced pies and cakes were reserved for the holidays. The best way to spice up that pumpkin in time for Thanksgiving? Bake a pumpkin pie with some of your special pumpkin pie spice.

Most pumpkin pie spice recipes contain the same basic ingredients, including cinnamon, ginger, and some other spices. Here’s how you can make your own pumpkin pie spice:

DIY pumpkin spice mix

  • 3T cinnamon
  • 2t ground ginger
  • 2t ground nutmeg
  • 1t allspice
  • 1t ground cloves

Simply add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk until fully mixed. Feel free to spice up your life to the tastes of fall!

Looking for inspiration? This pumpkin spice mix is perfect for making our quick vegan-friendly beer bread recipe  here.

While we can’t supply you any actual pumpkins for your pumpkin spice recipes, we can deliver the other necessary ingredients you need. Whether you're looking to preserve some  baked goods or add some fall flavor to your next experiential brew, we simplify the ingredient process. 


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