Tuesday marked the Autumnal Equinox, or the first official day of fall. For many of us, this ushers in a season change in the way we eat—from cookouts to slow cookers, spicy dishes to comfort foods, and fresh salads to potatoes and beets. Of course, nothing has become more associated with fall than the pumpkin. Having risen to fame thanks to menu items like Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, this once-humble gourd is now a seasonal superstar. Here’s a closer look at this celebrated squash:
Last year, Americans spent $308 million on pumpkin-flavored products. And the craze is starting earlier and earlier. Even though Starbucks decided to release the Pumpkin Spice Latte (or PSL, if you prefer) in August this year, many people now consider the pie-flavored beverage’s seasonal debut as official start of fall. What’s more, this desserty espresso drink dominates social media. According to Starbucks, there have been over 29,000 tweets that have featured the hashtag #pumpkinspice since August of 2012. Also, its fetching nutmeg-sprinkled-whipped-cream topping makes it a favorite on Instagram.
All this Autumn-philia results in tremendous financial success for the retail coffee chain. According to one economic source, “Putting a rounded price on the drink of $4 for a 12-ounce “tall” size means that Starbucks brings in at least $80 million from the sale of this one drink alone, which is available for roughly five months each year.”
Consumer market research expert Harry Balzer explains the enthusiasm for pumpkin spice as a function of familiarity: “One reason pumpkin spice may be so popular is that it taps into a paradox of human desire: We like new things, but we also want things we know we’ll like.” He also notes that pumpkin pie is the second most-consumed pie in America (behind apple pie), “which is astonishing considering it’s essentially eaten only one day a year.” (Read more from the source here.)
Another theory is that our pumpkin craving may have to do with our desire for rituals and a way to mark the change of seasons.
And, of course, for something a little weird…
Flavorwire.com compiled this bizarre list of pumpkin-flavored and pumpkin-scented products. We guess some folks can never get enough of a good thing?
Happy Foodie Friday!