A mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, “Pumpkin Spice” has millions of Americans flocking to grocery stores and restaurant chains every fall for a taste of the coveted flavor. Ironically, the pumpkin spice flavor doesn’t actually contain any pumpkin, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Every year suppliers struggle to create the next best pumpkin spice product ranging from breakfast cereal to pumpkin spice candy corn.

How did it all start, and why is it so popular?

In the ’60s McCormick blended the four spices and named it Pumpkin Spice. Since then it has been used sporadically in different seasonal cooking recipes until in the mid-’90s when local coffee shops (a Tampa cafe being the first) started to roast the spice with coffee beans. Once Starbucks released its first annual Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2004, the trend exploded, and now, every fall has become a Pumpkin Spice extravaganza.


There are different theories on why the drink is so popular. Pumpkin Spice is associated with the quintessential American autumn; with pumpkin pie, home-cooked meals, and spending time indoors together as the weather grows cold. It could be a sense of nostalgia that keeps people coming back for more. Whatever the reason the trend took off, consumer sentiment most certainly had a part to play.

From there, influencers picked up the flavor and now, every product distributed in the fall has Pumpkin Spice associated with it. Influencers and pop-culture make up the majority of why a product becomes popular. But you don’t need to come up with the next trend like “Pumpkin Spice” to become successful. Knowing which foods are trending at what time of year and making simple product alterations to reflect the latest craze can go a long way towards profitability for both suppliers and stores.