by Lindsey Rosenblatt
Photography courtesy of Getty Images
Autumn is here, and everyone knows that means—pumpkin spice is back. The smell of nutmeg, taste of pumpkin and the swirled latte art are all like getting a warm, fall hug.
Starbucks introduced the pumpkin spice latte to America in 2003, and since then pumpkin spice has become an essential part of enjoying the fall season. The joyous, warm feeling that pumpkin spice induces has been adopted by the food world in various forms. This year, on the 13th anniversary of the pumpkin spice latte, America has officially seen it all. The pumpkin spice craze has now taken over Oreos, toothpaste, alcohol, cookies and more.
In 2015, Forbes estimated that the pumpkin spice industry would make a market of more than $500 million that year. Nielsen reported that during the fall season, 37 percent of American consumers purchased a pumpkin spice-flavored product. Pumpkin spice coffee alone generates sales of more than $32 million each autumn.
Generally, America is in love with pumpkin spice. However, some Boston University students see pumpkin spice as nothing out of the ordinary for fall.
Dani Chaum (COM ’21) said, “I have never had pumpkin spice before, but it reminds me of fall.”
Some enjoy the spice but not in their lattes.
Casey Elder (CGS ’21) said, “I, to be honest, am not a fan of pumpkin spice lattes, but I am a big fan of pumpkin-flavored foods like pumpkin bread.”
Surprisingly, a Starbucks barista in the GSU said, “Pumpkin spice is very popular at BU. However, with maple pecan now as an option, pumpkin spice and maple pecan are ordered, I’d say, equally.”
However, the Starbucks barista in the Warren Towers location said, “In the fall, at BU, pumpkin spice is probably the most popular drink ordered, aside from the usual—caramel macchiato.”
Whether pumpkin spice has won over our taste buds or is simply appreciated for its association with cooler temperatures, clearly BU students welcome this fall flavor. It seems that BU students have come to a consensus that pumpkin spice is a hallmark of autumn.
If it is not always the taste that attracts the millions of pumpkin spice lovers, perhaps it is something else. Similar to Christmas, certain smells and foods bring about a holiday spirit that we all seek each season.
In an interview with CNN, Catherine Franssen, assistant professor of psychology and director of the neurostudies minor at Longwood University in Virginia, claimed that pumpkin spice could trigger an emotional response in the brain.
“The aroma of pumpkin spice immediately transports people to all the warm and friendly times associated with pumpkin pie, holiday gatherings, families […] things that childhood memories are made of,” said Franseen.
Pumpkin spice is more than just nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. It symbolizes the changing colors of the leaves, the shift in fashion to darker colors and sweaters, football season and spending time with family.
Here at BU, if one does not like pumpkin spice lattes, the pumpkin-flavored feeling of fall can be found elsewhere. For starters, try new West Campus coffee spot Caffé Nero's pumpkin muffins, Insomnia’s spiced pumpkin nut cookies and Trader Joe's entire stock of pumpkin-flavored goods.
Pumpkin spice brings people together; it creates a community. Just like peppermint sticks during Christmas time, pumpkin spice reminds everyone of cheerful times. Consumers seek happiness and comfort, which is why the pumpkin spice obsession continues to expand annually.