Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and more kick off fall
Summer may not be over yet but people are already craving pumpkin flavored things. And if you’re one of them listen up. Susana Victoria Perez has more.
UPDATE: Pumpkin spice season has arrived and more pumpkin items will continue to be added to restaurant menus and store shelves in the coming weeks.
For die-hard pumpkin spice fans, Tuesday is Pumpkinox.
It’s the day Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte – the drink that started the pumpkin craze 15 years ago – returns, which for some signals the unofficial beginning of fall. Hot weather and all.
But the pumpkin pandemonium got an earlier start Monday at Dunkin’ Donuts, 7-Eleven, Cracker Barrel and Wawa. Pumpkin beer and other products have been spotted on grocery store shelves.
Fast-food giant McDonald’s hasn’t announced a date for its pumpkin latte, but it has launched in August the past two years.
Experts say we have Starbucks to blame – or thank – for the flood of pumpkin spice fare. After the coffee giant started selling its Pumpkin Spice Lattes, which many call PSL for short, in 2003, others quickly followed. Real pumpkin was added to the Starbucks recipe in 2015.
“You can bet I will be one of the first in line at my Starbucks on Tuesday,” said Felicity Breuer, of Bradenton, Florida. “My plan is to get my PSL, crank my car’s AC and watch a video of leaves falling to help me feel a bit better.”
Breuer and Kaleigh Black, of Livonia, Michigan, have been gearing up for the drink’s return in Starbucks’ new Leaf Rakers Society Facebook group, described as a “safe place” for pumpkin fans and “year-round scarf-wearers.”
“It’s nice to have people who you can relate with,” Black said of the closed Facebook group. “I have dealt with friends, co-workers and family who think I’m a little too nuts about pumpkin spice, but I say they’re missing out.”
Black isn’t just a lover of pumpkin spice coffee, and has tried – and liked – the flavor in gum, cereal, salsa, ice cream, Pop-Tarts and Oreo cookies.
‘Pumpkin Spice’ fever is upon us again!
Pumpkin is big business
Americans spent $488.7 million on pumpkin spice-flavored foods in the latest 52 weeks as of Aug. 18, according to data from Nielsen. The data analytics company included products that contained the word pumpkin on packaging and found this to be a 15.5 percent increase from $423 million in sales during the same time.
Nielsen also found sales of these products reached $5.6 million in the latest week, also ending Aug. 18.
Not all pumpkin spice items are available yet. More will be added to menus in the coming weeks and the big push, especially at grocery stores, will be in late September and early October.
The products are only available for a limited time, which is not long enough for Dawn Saari, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, which itself is commonly referred to as PSL.
“I’d drink a pumpkin-spiced latte all year long if I could,” Saari said.
Yet the limited availability is part of what creates the demand, said Annie Roberts, a vice president at the NPD Group, a Chicago-based research outfit.
“It is clearly a winning strategy for coffee chains to continue to offer pumpkin spice lattes as a limited-time offer,” Roberts said, noting NPD’s research shows it has a positive effect on visit frequency and how much customers spend.
But there are signs that the seasonal squash’s flavor is losing some luster.
According to Technomic, which tracks food industry trends, this year, pumpkin is expected to be paired more with or take a backseat to up-and-comers such as maple.
Along with the PSL, Starbucks announced Tuesday that its Salted Caramel Mocha espresso drink, Teavana Pumpkin Spice Chai Tea Latte and, returning fall favorite, pumpkin scones were available for a limited time.
New fall-themed bakery items are the Maple Pecan Muffin, Apple Cider Doughnut and a Morning Muffin, made with rolled oats, carrots, zucchini and coconut, Starbucks said.
Pumpkin and pumpkin spice products are available at participating locations for a limited time.
7-Eleven: Pumpkin spice hot coffee, pumpkin spice latte, creamer and pumpkin spice muffins. New this year, America’s largest convenience store chain has Pumpkin Pie 7-Select Ice Cream.
Bruegger’s Bagels: Pumpkin bagels, cream cheese and pumpkin spice coffee return Thursday and will be available through Halloween.
Cracker Barrel: Select locations nationwide released a limited-time fall menu Monday, which features a Pumpkin Pie Latte.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Pumpkin and maple pecan flavoring are available in Dunkin’s full line of coffees, including hot or iced coffee, espresso beverages, Frozen Coffee and Cold Brew coffee. The chain also has glazed pumpkin doughnuts and Munchkins, muffins, and ground coffee and K-Cup pods.
Einstein Bros. Bagels: The chain’s Pumpkin Pie Latte, Pumpkin Muffin and Pumpkin Walnut Crunch Gourmet Bagel with Pumpkin Shmear return Thursday.
First Watch: Pumpkin pancakes are back for a limited time.
Mimi’s Café: Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Harvest Griddlecakes, Pumpkin Crème Muffin and Pumpkin Cheesecake are available Wednesday through Nov. 11.
Panera Bread: Although the chain is not having a pumpkin latte this year, it offers the Pumpkin Muffin and Muffie year-round. On Sept. 5, the Iced Pumpkin Cookie returns.
Peet’s Coffee: The seasonal lineup featuring a Pumpkin Latte and Pumpkin Chai returns to Peet’s coffeebars Wednesday.
Pilot Flying J: The chain’s new Pumpkin Caramel Macchiato is now available for a limited time. Plus in September, pumpkin pie creamer and syrup will also return to stores.
Racetrac: The majority of locations now have pumpkin coffee, which will be available in all stores in the convenience store chain soon, company officials said.
Starbucks: The PSL returns at company-operated stores in the U.S. and Canada Tuesday. However, some licensed stores, including those in grocery stores, Target and airports, may release on another day, according to Starbucks.
Steak ’n Shake: The Pumpkin Spice Milkshake is back for a limited time.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Through Oct. 31, seasonal drinks include the Pumpkin Cold Brew Almond Milk Latte, Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte and Pumpkin Latte.
Wawa: Coffee, cappuccino and all hot, iced and frozen varieties including Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pumpkin milkshakes returned Monday, along with single-cup cartons and ground coffee bags. Pumpkin doughnuts and muffins return Thursday.
Auntie Anne’s: Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Nuggets return Sept. 3.
Biggby Coffee: Pumpkin Spice Latte, the Chumpkin Latte (chai and pumpkin) and Caramel Apple Cider return to stores Sept. 1, and the fall favorites will be available through at least October.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse: On Oct. 4, BJ’s Pumpkin Ale returns.
Culver’s: The chain’s Pumpkin Spice Shake and Salted Caramel Pumpkin Concrete Mixer pumpkin offerings return Sept. 24 and will be available through Nov. 18.
Cumberland Farms: Pumpkin flavoring and coffee creamer return Sept. 5 and the Pumpkin Yogurt Muffin will be available October through December. Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino is available year-round.
Dairy Queen: The seasonal Pumpkin Pie Blizzard returns for a limited time Sept. 3.
Nestle Toll House Café by Chip: On Sept. 4, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Pumpkin Spice Cookies return and will be available through Nov. 4.
Smoothie King: The smoothie franchise launches four limited-time pumpkin smoothies Sept. 4, which will be available until Dec. 26, including: Slim-N-Trim Pumpkin, Coffee High Protein Pumpkin, Vegan Pumpkin and Pumpkin D-Lite.
Taco John’s: The chain’s Pumpkin Churro will be available for a limited time starting Sept. 3.
TCBY: The last of three fall seasonal flavors, Pumpkin Pie yogurt, is scheduled to launch Oct. 1. A Graham Cracker flavor will come out Sept. 6 and an Apple Pie flavor on Sept. 20.
Yogurtland: Pumpkin Pie frozen yogurt returns Sept. 3 at select stores nationwide.
At the store
Here are some of the products carving out a spot on store shelves. Selection varies and quantities of these seasonal items are limited. More products are expected to come out before Halloween and additional items will be available at online specialty stores.
Beverages: Multiple brands of pumpkin spice coffee, creamer, teas and cocoa. Dunkin’ Donuts will release a bottled Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee Sept. 10 at retailers including grocery, drug and convenience stores. In mid-October, FORTO’s 2-ounce Pumpkin Spice Latte shots, will be available at select stores and at www.fortocoffee.com.
Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Special K Pumpkin Spice, Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Pumpkin Spice, Life Pumpkin Spice and newcomer Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes. Kodiak Cakes has a Pumpkin & Flax Flapjack and Waffle mix and Birch Benders has pumpkin spice pancake mixes.
Cookies: Grocery stores often have fresh-baked cookies and popular packaged varieties include Milano Pumpkin Spice cookies, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies and Oreo Pumpkin Spice cookies.
Health food: Pumpkin has also made its way into some protein drinks and bars. One option is Lenny & Larry’s Pumpkin Spice Complete Cookie.
Ice cream: Not many ice creams are available in the freezer aisle but in early September, Halo Top is bringing back its seasonal pumpkin pie pints and Yasso will release its new limited-edition Pumpkin Cheesecake pint and stick bars in mid-September.
Miscellaneous: Pumpkin pasta sauce, salsa, peanut butter and SMASHMALLOW pumpkin pie snacks. Harry & David has a pumpkin butter at retail stores and online.
Pastries: Pepperidge Farm Swirl Pumpkin Spice, Kellogg’s Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts, Base Culture’s Nutty Pumpkin Bread, Nutri-Grain Pumpkin Spice and Belvita Pumpkin Spice breakfast biscuits have been spotted. Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice English Muffins and bagels return to Sept. 10.
Yogurt: Chobani Pumpkin Spice Greek, Dannon Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie, Oikos Pumpkin Pie Greek yogurt and siggi’s Pumpkin Spice and noosa yoghurt’s pumpkin spice mates.
Gourmet grocers: Stores including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market will have some of the largest pumpkin selection, most expected to be available by mid to late September. Whole Foods’ large pumpkin lineup will include a pumpkin whipped topping, pumpkin cardamom pasta sauce, goat cheese and Pumpkin & Sage Farro Pilaf. Trader Joe’s will bring back its Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli, Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s cookies, Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps and more.
Learn whether pumpkins are gourds or squash—and why they’re actually a fruit and not a vegetable. Plus, learn about the health benefits.
Kelly Tyko is a consumer columnist and retail reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. Read her Bargainista tips at TCPalm.com/Bargainista, follow her on Twitter @KellyTyko and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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