Pumpkin spice products are hitting store shelves and restaurants earlier this year than usual.
- On Thursday, August 24, Starbucks officially launched its fall line of pumpkin spice and apple-flavored products, including its popular pumpkin spice lattes.
- The launch has progressively moved earlier into the year, with the 2015 launch date being September 8, but pushed into late August starting in 2018.
- Dunkin’ similarly launched its pumpkin spice drinks early a week prior on August 16, with other companies like Krispy Kreme and 7-Eleven following suit.
- Dairy Queen reintroduced its Pumpkin Pie Blizzard on Monday, while Smoothie King will launch five pumpkin smoothies on Tuesday.
- Axios reports that Wendy’s is set to launch a new pumpkin spice-flavored Frosty in September.
Why It’s News
Since Starbucks first introduced the pumpkin spice latte in 2003, the popular beverage has only continued to grow in popularity and fuel a national addiction to pumpkin flavorings. As Nielson reports, Americans spend over $500 million on pumpkin spice products each year, and the number is growing. NielsenIQ reports that U.S. consumers spent $802.5 million on pumpkin products between July 29, 2022, and July 29, 2023, up from $563.6 million in 2019.
There are multiple reasons why this demand is skyrocketing. Part of it is the appeal of seasonal or limited-time offerings. As Virginia Tech economics professor Jadrian Wooten writes, “If it’s just a seasonal, limited time only, you’re more likely to consume it multiple times over that same time period than if it was spread out over a long period of time. The longer it’s been since you had it, you have very fond memories of it. So, a really famous example is the McDonald’s McRib that just sort of comes out at random times. You just sort of forget what things tasted like.”
Nostalgia is another prominent factor in sales. As John Hopkins University assistant psychology professor Jason Fischer tells Axios, “It brings to mind those associated memories, including those flavors and aromas of the pumpkin spice stuff. Maybe the enduring heat is a thing that just makes us imagine and crave that cooler weather, and then it calls to mind pumpkin spice even earlier.”