If there’s one thing that officially introduces the fall season, we all know what it is—pumpkin spice.
You can’t walk through a department store, bakery, or coffee shop without catching a waft of the classic fall spice blend. Even home goods stores keep this deliciously smelling scent on deck for any and all autumn fanatics who need to cover every square inch of their home in fall feels.
But where in this sweet world did the iconic fall spice come from?
Did Starbucks really create this stuff?
Is there some secret spice maker who’s been onto this for hundreds of years?
When and why did it become so popular in mainstream food culture?
These are the important questions, and we’re here to give you some answers.
Without further ado, here’s the concise history on pumpkin spice and everything you need to know about the flavor of fall…
First of all, what exactly is pumpkin spice?
Pumpkin spice is a combination of spices that includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves. It’s used commonly in fall dishes and cocktails to create a crisp and inviting flavor that tastes like the fall air and feels like autumn on your lips.
One could say, if you were to bottle up the fall season and sell it online, pumpkin spice would be exactly what you get.
The origin story of Pumpkin Spice…
Though many people think that this autumn aroma comes from the coffee juggernaut Starbucks, it actually has been around for over 200 years—yeah, you read that right, 200 years!
Here’s the breakdown–pumpkins have been around forever and people have eaten them for quite some time. It wasn’t until 1798 that someone actually took that pumpkin flavor and packed it into a pie for public consumption that there was formal documentation of the pumpkin spice. This person was Amelia Simmons, author of American Cookery: The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, and Vegetables.
This little cookbook would be the first time someone sat down and concocted a recipe that included pumpkin spice combination that we all know and love today.
Over the next 150 years, this spice blend would be used in a variety of recipes, including desserts, entrees, and even cocktails that were focused on highlighting fall flavors.
Fast forward to 1930…
Before this date, nobody could go to a store and get their hands on a complete pumpkin spice package—people had to collect all the individual ingredients and combine them in order to create their own blend.
Fall after fall, people were pulling together pumpkin pies from scratch, measuring out each individual spice and mixing it together to form their own recipe. That was until 1934 when McCormick and Company decided to take it upon themselves to craft the perfect combination of pumpkin spice.
The spice-slinging company stepped up to the plate and created what would become the go-to spice blend for all fall activities. Immediately, people were hooked on it—shelves couldn’t keep the stuff in stock and baking savants around the world were eager to get their cooking claws on a bottle of the coveted spice.
Ever since then, people have used the spice to flavor up a variety of dishes and drinks to enjoy during the fall.
Why does everyone love Pumpkin Spice so much?
Just like any other food trend, there is always a catalyst. In this origin story, the catalyst is a global coffee company that sells over 4 billion cups of joe every single year.
You guessed it, Starbucks.
In 2003, Peter Dukes (Director of Espresso at Starbucks) and his team were tasked with a challenge—create a new flavor that would capture the attention of coffee lovers around the world. Starbucks already had a global grip on the coffee game, but it was time for them to establish further dominance with a tasteful treat all their customers love.
After exploring a variety of ideas, he settled on pumpkin spice as the flavor of choice. From there, he and his team conducted months of research, pouring countless kinds of espresso over the tops of different pumpkin pies, trying to find the ideal combination of sweet and spice that tingled the tongue.
This mixture of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice, and nutmeg had to be perfect if it was going to be mixed in with their top-notch coffee. When they finally discovered it, they knew they had an instant classic on their hands.
The first cups of Pumpkins Spice Lattes went out the doors of Starbucks in August of 2003 and they never looked back. Today, over 424 million cups of pumpkin spice beverages are sold every year to Starbucks customers, and it is their most popular seasonal product year after year.
In 2015, they officially added real pumpkin into their coffee too!
So, how can I get some Pumpkin Spice in my life?
Now that your taste buds are tingling for a little bit of this fall flavor, allow me to tell you how you can get some for yourself.
In case you didn’t know, we have the best online candy store in the world where you can get all of your favorite fall candy including pumpkin spice sweets. All you have to do is to head over to our Fall and Halloween candy aisle and check out a few of our pumpkin spice personal favorites like…
This sweet treat takes a spicy twist by adding in a serious amount of pumpkin spice. If you’re looking for something to dunk in your pumpkin coffee, this thing is perfect for you.
Who said you can snack on pumpkin spice with caramel? This is the perfect combination of two fall flavors (pumpkin and caramel) to create a tiny treat that packs a powerful pumpkin punch the minute you bite into it.
If you’re a fan of malted milk balls, you’re going to love these. Each one of these little guys is loaded with tons of pumpkin spice and melts in your mouth. Trust me when I tell you these are going to become your daily post-dinner snack for all of fall.
Pumpkin Spice it up this season...
There you have it, the complete and concise history of pumpkin spice. Now go out there, get yourself some of this seasonal spice, sprinkle it on all of your favorite foods, and give yourself a taste of fall that never gets old.