Spice it up with pumpkin spice

By Layal Srour
October 1, 2019

Pumpkin spice is back at Wawa.
                                         Image by Layal Srour

Pumpkin spice came to life when a Stanford basketball student was asked to create a new fall special for Starbucks. 

Peter Dukes, creator of pumpkin spice latte, has a BA in economics and an MBA from Stanford. He came to Starbucks in 2001, and in 2003, he was asked to come up with a new drink for the fall. 

Dukes began mixing various ingredients and spices until he found the new phenomenon that has now been selling for 16 years. A pumpkin spice latte and other pumpkin spiced foods are made with sometimes real pumpkin, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger.  

Pumpkin spice has become so popular that there is a list of more than 65 foods made with it. A few of these food and drinks are cheerios, lattes, smoothies, milkshakes, hummus, cookies, donuts, cream cheese, spam, ice cream, tea, sparkling water, vodka, etc. 

Besides food and drinks, pumpkin spice scents are just as famous, with pumpkin spice candles, soap, shampoo and conditioner, face masks and chap sticks.

Pumpkin spice scented soap from the Greek Festival.
Image by Layal Srour

As of 2018, Forbes recorded that pumpkin spice made a whopping $600 million in sales on food and drinks during the fall. Last year’s sales was an increase from the $500 million made three years ago. The top five products that contributed the most to this $600 million sale was pie filling, dog food, Starbucks, other, and liquid coffee creamers. The rest came from products such as cereal, bread, yogurt, ice cream, etc.

“My favorite pumpkin spice product would be the pumpkin spice cookies,” Deanna Sansone, sophomore early and special education major, said. “However, I would not buy other pumpkin spice products besides food products.”

Catherine Franssen, assistant professor of biopsychology and director of neurostudies at Longwood University in Virginia,  said in an interview on the Live Science website that pumpkin spice is a fall favorite for consumers due to both the marketing and the nostalgic feeling.

She explained that our senses triggers the amygdala in the brain, which reminds us of a certain place or feeling. 

Hannah Burke, sophomore exercise science and health promotion major, believes that pumpkin spice products should only be a seasonal product because of the cold and comforting weather. She said, “It reminds me of Halloween and Thanksgiving and I think it should be a limited edition for the fall time because of the holidays.”

“They taste like warm-blanket feels,” said Joanna Wheeler Johnson, a school psychologist in Georgia in article by Healthline

Besides the psychological aspect of pumpkin spice, there is a marketing strategy that increases company sales during the fall season because they make pumpkin spice a limited edition product. 

The idea of limited edition allows consumers, new and returning, to want to buy the product before it expires. Also, social media plays a large role in the marketing strategy because since it is a seasonal product, people are posting pictures and videos of the drink, snack, etc. In doing so, it makes other consumers want to try the product, increasing company sales. 

Starbucks has a pumpkin spice latte Instagram and Twitter page with millions of followers on both just for the limited-time drink, which is a huge promotion for their brand. 

Joseph Hamilton, junior finance major, finds pumpkin spice as a great marketing strategy from large brands like Wawa, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts. After hearing that pumpkin spice sales reached $600 million, Hamilton thinks that sales would increase this year and said, “It just shows how successful one thing can be.”

The idea of pumpkin spice has grown so much to the point the people are purchasing mugs, sweatshirts and other merchandise relating to their love for pumpkin spice.

Jessie James Decker, singer/songwriter and CEO of Kittenish clothing brand, wearing her new pumpkin spice shirt.
Image via Instagram

After 16 years, the pumpkin spice phenomenon continues to grow.

Layal Srour

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