The influence of the Pumpkin Spice Latte

Fall has returned, and that can mean only one thing: The return of pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, which the popular coffee company started serving for a limited time back in 2003. Today, this drink is still sought after by Starbucks addicts and hated on by people who think it’s disgusting and/or overrated. Whether the PSL is actually delicious depends on your taste, but what no can deny is just how much of an influence the PSL has had on other food, drinks and even non-edible items. Here are 10 instances that proves just how much of an influence it has:

1. The pumpkin spice latte has a following on Twitter. It has a following of almost 100,000 followers, to be exact. Why a drink has any kind of social media account is beyond me, but it does, and it has more followers than most of us ever will. Despite the fact the twitter account isn’t even verified, it has more followers than a lot of more important Twitter accounts: The University of Florida (@UF, 77K followers); The City of Seattle — where Starbucks is based (@CityOfSeattle, 30K followers); Florida Governor Rick Scott (@FLGovScott, 51K followers).

2. The PSL is so popular, Starbucks decided to bring back the drink earlier this year, much to the delight of its devoted fans. Although the fall season didn’t technically start until Sept. 23, the Seattle-based company brought back the drink Sept. 2. But 21 days early wasn’t enough for some PSL lovers because Starbucks also decided to provide a “secret” code that would allow customers to purchase the drink as early as Aug. 25. 

3. Other fast food companies are making their own versions of the pumpkin spice latte. McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme have released the PSL in hopes of keeping up with the competition. The top guns behind these companies realize the huge profit that Starbucks is making off the PSL, and most consumers will be willing to try an “off-brand” version of the drink, especially if it is at a cheaper price. While you may be able to get it at McDonald’s for a little more than $2 bucks, consumers should keep in mind that your options are limited as far as getting soy milk if you happen to be lactose intolerant. 

4. A woman bought a year’s worth of pumpkin spice lattes because apparently, just having it in the fall wasn’t enough. Besides the fact that she bought that much PSL because she has had an obsession with the drink for “at least ten years,” she drinks it because it has less calories than an actual pumpkin pie, or so she assumes. According to Starbucks, a tall order of PSL is 300 calories (and 38 grams of sugar). A slice of pumpkin pie is only 23 calories more and has less sugar. If she orders a grande instead, she will consume more calories than that one slice of pie. 

5. The PSL has also gained some enemies, including a food blogger who went on a hunt to find out the drink’s ingredients and was shocked to find that the PSL doesn’t actually have pumpkin. She claims that items listed in the ingredients such as 4-methylimidazole (in caramel coloring) are toxic to the human body, but the FDA website states that based on what they know about the ingredient, it has “no reason to believe that there is any immediate or short-term danger presented by 4-MEI at the levels expected in food from the use of caramel coloring.” It’s no surprise that flavored syrups are used instead of actual pumpkins, considering that you can watch the barista making your drink with the syrup, as well as the fact that Starbucks sells the syrup on its website. 

6. So many other companies are jumping on the pumpkin spice (and just pumpkin in general) wagon. If you regularly receive the Fearless Flyer from Trader Joe’s, you might have noticed that the October flyer was about 75 percent related to pumpkin, so much in fact that “there’s hardly room for anything else!”: Pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin-flavored cereal, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, etc. Trader Joe’s is a prime example of the many companies trying to capitalize on the pumpkin trend. If you head over to one of its stores, the entrance is full of big, little and in-between sized pumpkins. 

7. The pumpkin spice trend has become such a big deal, people are showing just how ridiculous the popularity of the PSL is by creating satires about the popular drink. Zachary Lee, a satirist who writes for The Independent Florida Alligator, recently wrote a column about Trojan spice condoms, which of course, do not actually exist, but because the flavor has become an obsession, it’s plausible that a condom company would eventually come out with such a thing considering there are other ridiculous ones such as garlic and marijuana

8. Multiple food companies are coming out with pumpkin spice-flavored versions of food items. Pumpkin spice isn’t just for coffee anymore, apparently. Food items such as Oreos, Pringles, waffles and more are getting into the pumpkin spice game. This list of items is short of many other foods with the popular flavor in them; in fact, there are so many foods now with pumpkin spice in them, people are hoarding the items and attempting to try each one

9. The pumpkin spice trend has gone so far that it has passed coffee and even food in general: You now can plan your beauty products according to your favorite drink. Do you need an exfoliating cream with pumpkin enzymes? That’s available for a little more than $60. Do you want to smell like pumpkin pie? Twenty dollars will you get a bottle of pumpkin fragrance. Are you hoping to moisturize your lips that are probably dry from drinking a PSL? There’s a pumpkin spice chapstick that can do that for you. And if smelling like pumpkin spice isn’t enough, you can always make your face look like your favorite flavor. 

10. Last but not least, even your pets can jump on the pumpkin spice bandwagon. Pumpkin-spice flavored dental chews, pet cologne and biscuits are just some of the many items you can buy for your pet so that they don’t have any reason to envy you as you sip your venti PSL. While pumpkin-spice anything isn’t the healthiest for you or your pet and should only be consumed in moderation, your pet could still enjoy pumpkin because of its high fiber and vitamin C.