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For many, pumpkin spice goodies signal fall and all the joy that comes with it: autumn leaves, cool air and cute boots. For the rest of us (the realists), it’s the death of summer.
We’re just a month and a half into this season (we’ve only worn our swimsuits once!) and the powers that be are already forcing fall down our throats with their pumpkin spice things.
On August 1, World Market released its annual pre-ground pumpkin spice coffee. The 12-ounce bags promise “the flavors of fresh baked pumpkin pie” — so you can just toss aside that summery strawberry shortcake you’re gorging on. Might as well break out the turkey while you’re at it.
World Market isn’t the only perpetrator ushering in fall way too soon. Cheerios pumpkin spice flavored cereal, Dannon's Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek yogurt and Ghirardelli's pumpkin spice caramel-filled chocolates were spotted in stores at the end of July. While Starbucks has yet to announce the release date for the mother of all pumpkin spice things, Pumpkin Spice Lattes, its pumpkin spice-flavored ground coffee and K-cups are already in grocery stores.
Starbucks has been debuting the Pumpkin Spice Latte around Labor Day since 2003, selling over 200 million cups of the game-changing drink since. But the coffee chain has been known to rile up the PSL cult by offering opportunities for fans to get the drink early, usually the last week of August.
In the last few years, however, pumpkin spice demand has reached a fever pitch. Data from Nielsen shows that total sales of pumpkin-flavored foods in the U.S. grew almost 80 percent between 2011 and 2015, to over $360 million in 2015.
If everyone is trying to one-up the competition by releasing their pumpkin spice things early, why not just serve PSLs and all their packaged food friends all year round? Can’t we satisfy the hordes of gourd fans without declaring a war on summer?
“It is the signal of fall for customers,” a Starbucks spokesperson told FastCompany when they posed that very question. “The spicy essence–that signals fall has arrived for them.”
The truth is, as FastCompany points out, that the perceived limited availability of pumpkin spice things is what helps drive the frenzy and contributes to people buying more and more of them.
But this year, we’re taking a stand for summer. No PSLs or other PSTs until the OFFICIAL start of fall, which, to remind you, is September 22. And since it’s supposed to be unseasonably warm, we might get really anti-establishment and drink our PSLs over ice.