Oh my gourd, pumpkin spice is popular. Americans spend about half a billion dollars on pumpkin spice products every year, according to Nielsen data. Pumpkin has deep roots in the culinary history of the Americas and pumpkin spice now has a cult following.
Many have credited Starbucks with brewing the popularity of pumpkin spice after the chain created the first Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003 in their Seattle “liquid lab.” The developers behind the coffee drink wanted to create a fall beverage that was as popular as its signature holiday drinks such as eggnog latte and peppermint mocha. Like many pumpkin spice foods, there isn’t any actual pumpkin spice in it. The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte (PSL) is made with pumpkin spice syrup, a combination of pumpkin puree, sugar, milk, and pumpkin spice topping created from cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and clove. The drink was tested in 100 stores in 2003 and by the following year, it launched at all U.S. Starbucks locations. PSL is now available as a seasonal menu item around the world, and has become Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage of all time. Since 2003, Starbucks has sold more than 424 million PSLs in the U.S. alone, according to Food and Wine. It’s now a staple on the Starbucks fall menu.