Chances are – go on admit it – that you have had at least one pumpkin spice latte by now.
In fact, because some chains started offering the seasonal lattes as early as late August/early September, you may already have had several.
First, some history.
We all can thank Starbucks for the “rise” of the pumpkin spice latte. According to Wikipedia.org, the coffee chain added the drink to its roster of holiday seasonal drinks (Peppermint Mocha, for example) after it came out “in the middle of the group” of flavored drinks the chain tested on consumers. The pumpkin spice came out on top among the company’s “developers” when they realized “there wasn’t anything around pumpkin at the time.”
Test sales of the drink in two Starbucks locations “exceeded all expectations” and the company spread the drink to all stores throughout the country in 2004. And thus the pumpkin spice latte juggernaut was born. Starbucks alone sold more than 200 million of the flavored drink between 2004 and 2014. Many other coffee companies and cafes also now offer the drink to customers, lest they lose out to Starbucks.
But, why? Why has this drink arguably taken over America’s coffee drinkers? What is it about this particular flavor?
Could it be two things?
- Pumpkin spice “heralds” the start of fall and the ensuing happy holiday season, a season that for many Americans brings fond memories and expectations of gift-giving, parties and an overall sense of wonder and joy.
- It’s also, according to the Washington Post, all about the Limited Time Offer (LT0): it’s special because it’s “only” offered once a year. (Granted, it’s one-third of the year – September through December, four full months, but let’s not quibble about the specialness of an LTO.)
We also believe it’s the “cozy” factor at play: It’s fall. Winter is coming, a time of mittens, hats and hot chocolate. There’s just something comforting about holding a hot drink in your hands and smelling its lovely pumpkin-y, spicy aroma. So warm. So reassuring. It’s not hot chocolate (that’s for kids). It’s coffee, an adult drink. But one that evokes feelings of comfort, warmth and Mom offering you a steaming hot chocolate with whipped cream on top after you come in from sledding.