It seems like every company is producing some type of pumpkin spice product? Why? What is our obsession? And what is the incentive for companies to manufacture products based off of a once unappealing fruit? For companies there is a huge financial upside. Americans are craving this autumnal delight and are willing to flash the green to get the Orange. And for us Americans it is simply the wisdom of crowds and that trends dictate our likes and wants. If someone says Pumpkin Spice, we all say give me the Venti size.
So when did America’s fascination with Pumpkin products or food items begin? I would say that Starbucks kicked this into a full trend when they launched the Pumpkin Spice latte ten years ago (now rebranded as PSL). Since then we have gone crazy for this gourd.
I do enjoy the occasional PSL but just look around your local grocery store. The number of pumpkin spice products continue to increase, ranging from the pretty good to the ridiculous. Every aisle has numerous products:
Snack Aisle – Pumpkin Pringles
Bread Aisle – Pumpkin Spice Bagels
Milk Aisle – Pumpkin Dairy Creamer
Drink Aisle – Pumpkin Vodka
Frozen Aisle – Pumpkin Ice Cream
Refrigerated Aisle – Pumpkin Yogurt
Can Aisle – Pumpkin Puree
Fresh Fruits & Veggies – Pumpkins
Can you even remember that before this madness that the Pumpkin Pie was only product you could get. Plus it was only served at Thanksgiving (or at the occasional diner). And it was typically the last dessert selected, behind Apple Pie and that weird marshmallow sweet potato dish your great Aunt Nellie made.
Times have clearly changed, though for most people, they do feel that the Pumpkin Product is more about fitting in than it is about the taste. Hipsters like to set the trends and say things like “Oh you have to try the pumpkin fish sticks. They’re delicious.” Or they will say “The Pumpkin Seltzer is to die for, bubbly, spicy and worth the $5 per bottle.” Whatever.
I mean, I get caught up in this craze. I have tried numerous pumpkin beers, Oreos, chips, etc. You name it, I most likely tried it. But I also tend to try the latest food fads that have come and gone. Remember green ketchup or pink butter? No? Well I do, since I had to get them to see how they tasted. Yeah, gross. But I had to sample. Hey, it’s the marketer in me.
- Sales of pumpkin spice products increased 14% in 2013 (source: Bloomberg)
- Starbucks has sold 200 million PSL since its introduction (source: Starbucks)
- Sales of pumpkins increased 34% in the past 5 years (source: Dept. of Agriculture)
- Largest Pumpkin weighed in at just over 2,000 lbs
Where’s the Beef, I mean Pumpkin?
Most pumpkin products contain no actual Pumpkin only spices associated with the fall harvest gourd. These spices include cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, sugar, etc. But no actual pumpkin.
Entenmann’s Pumpkin Pop-Ems
Cliffs pumpkin pie ice cream
Sam Adams Fat Jack
Quaker Pumpkin spice instant oatmeal
Brooklyn Brewery Post Road Pumpkin ale
Dairy Queen Pumpkin pie Blizzard
Royal Scoops Pumpkin ice cream
Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin latte
The original oven roasted pumpkin seeds straight from the gourd. Lightly salted these pumpkin originals are not only good but good for you. Fiber, protein and magnesium make up some of the nutrient packed benefits.
Try some as a salad topping, include in your granola mix or simply go OtoM (oven to mouth).
Pumpkin Products I Need to Try
Pumpkin Jell-O pudding
Pumpkin Peanut Butter
Pumpkin Products I wish were Invented
Pumpkin Coca Cola
So what is the next fruit or goodie to tantalize our taste buds? Watermelon flavors have peaked, and the traditionals, apples, oranges and bananas are no longer in flavor. Personally, I think that the key lime still has tremendous upside and I also think that the black cherry will make its way back to our cabinets.
Bonus: Want to meet friends and influence others? Or increase your profile rank on Tinder? Simply change your name to Pumpkin and you will have a new fan base waiting in line. So say goodbye to the likes of the Cinnamon moniker, the red hot wonder and move over to the calming glow of the orange gourd.