Pumpkin Spice: Once just a helpful mix, now the definition of fall


Aubrey Anderson, Contributing Writer

Aubrey Anderson | Contributing Writer

The BVU campus is bursting with signs of fall. Trees changing color, leaves crunching underfoot, people beginning to don their sweaters and UGGS, and the age of pumpkin spice lattes (PSLs) is at its peak. With Thanksgiving break around the corner and people waiting for a slice of pumpkin pie, one may find themselves thinking, “Where did pumpkin pie spice come from?”

Pumpkin pie spice was originally created by cleaning out a pumpkin and filling it with different spices and baking it. However, as time progressed and the creation of pie occurred, the use of actual pumpkin slowly decreased. In the 1930’s, McCormick & Company created their “Pumpkin Pie Spice” which was the premade combination of nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cinnamon. Eventually donning the name “Pumpkin Spice,” this mix allowed people to make and season their pies and other pumpkin flavored treats with greater ease.

As more people could create pumpkin flavored desserts quicker and easier, pumpkin became a staple during the fall season. However, to many people’s surprise, pumpkin is hardly ever used in pumpkin flavored desserts. According to an article written by the Huffington Post, Libby’s, which is the brand responsible for selling about 85 percent of canned pumpkin pie filling sold in the U.S, is actually the Dickinson variety of squash, not pumpkin.

With the creation of McCormick’s “Pumpkin Pie Spice” and pumpkin pie fillings turning out to be squash, true pumpkin desserts are a thing of the past. However, most people don’t seem to notice. In fact, people seem to fall into the trap that companies have begun to use in order to gain more business. Companies such as Starbucks, developed their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) which they offer as a limited time offer (LTO) during the fall months. The strategy is as follows: Starbucks needed a filler product to keep customers coming in between the summer months and winter; what better way than to create an LTO based on a fall classic, pumpkin pie? Thus, the PSL was born! Most people however, are not aware of the fact that Starbucks’ PSL doesn’t contain any pumpkin. The pumpkin flavor comes from items such as McCormick’s product. The PSL is 13 years old and only in the past year has Starbucks offered to mix in pumpkin puree.

Many other companies are starting to pick up on Starbucks’ marketing tactic as well. In fact, People magazine has a list of the top 58 new products released that are pumpkin spice LTOs. Some of the products include: Subway cookies, Cheerios, Triscuits, and even cream cheese! The companies have come to learn, thanks to Starbucks, that pumpkin spice is the way to customer’s hearts and wallets.

Photo by Aubrey Anderson