Like any superhero in our world today, pumpkin spice has its own origin story. It may have started as a simple spice added to pumpkin pie, but now, it has a legacy that will continue for decades.
That might be a little dramatic, but if we’re being honest, pumpkin spice has taken over the world. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is a large part of the reason that the flavor is everywhere in our society today, but pumpkin spice began long before that.
The “pumpkin spice” flavor that we all know and love doesn’t have any pumpkin in it at all. It’s a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. It has been common in American spice racks since at least the 1890s—over 100 years before Starbucks popularized the drink.
However, it simply served as a spice, not a cultural icon. It was Starbucks that brought the flavor into the spotlight with their Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
But those lattes almost didn’t come to be. In 2003, when Starbucks executives were deciding on new flavors to release for fall, they almost nixed the idea of a Pumpkin Spice Latte for ideas like “Cinnamon Spice” and “Chocolate Caramel.” Luckily for us, they did end up choosing the Pumpkin Spice Latte.
Since debuting the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, it has become a fall favorite. In the first decade that it existed, Starbucks sold over 200 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes. That’s around 25 million gallons of Pumpkin Spice Latte (around 38 Olympic-size swimming pools full of the stuff).
And now, you can see pumpkin spice everywhere. You can buy it in yogurt, lotion, Oreos, and deodorant, to name a few. The Pumpkin Spice Latte even has its own verified Twitter account.
So if you love pumpkin spice, enjoy the season. If not—don’t worry, Peppermint Mocha season will be here soon enough.
Are you shopping at one of America’s top 10 favorite grocery chains for your pumpkin spice fix? Check out the list here.