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The Geniuses Behind Pumpkin Spice Latte

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It's all marketing bull.

There's no actual pumpkin in "pumpkin spice latte":

In 2013, Americans spent $308 million on pumpkin-flavored products. Pumpkin-flavored beer, pumpkin-flavored creamer, pumpkin breads, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin cream cheese, and pumpkin cider peppered the shelves of grocery stores around this great country.

But the crown jewel of this pumpkin berserker rage is what's known as the pumpkin spice latte, an unctuous, pungent, saccharine brown liquid, equal parts dairy and diabetes, served in paper cups and guzzled down by the liters.

The popularity of this drink, concocted by Starbucks in 2003, has single-handedly ushered in a new wave of imitators, pumpkin-spiced food objects like Oreos and the rumored pumpkin-spiced condom (despite reports, Durex isn't actually making this condom). At this point, we've reached peak pumpkin-spice and it might be as good a time as any to examine how we got to this point and where we go from here:

Is there pumpkin in a pumpkin spice latte? No. What you get when your order a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks is espresso, water, whipped cream, milk (or soy milk), pumpkin spice, and, in addition, something called "pumpkin sauce," Vani Hari, a nutrition advocate and blogger, investigated and reported.

According to Starbucks' online store, the ingredients for pumpkin sauce include sugar, condensed nonfat milk, high fructose corn syrup, annatto (a seed that produces a caramel, orangeish color), natural and artificial flavors, caramel color, salt, and a preservative called potassium sorbate.

So, when you're savoring your 49 grams of sugar (more than a can of regular soda) and 380 calories in a PSL (grande sized with whipped cream), the flavors you might be associating with pumpkin are actually a blend of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice — the kind of spices you'd use in a pumpkin pie.

So those spices are the real stars of the pumpkin spice latte?Right. Pumpkin spice is a blend of spices that spice manufacturers sell. Going by the ingredients in The Old Farmer's Almanac, the spices in pumpkin spice are usually made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice, with occasional ingredient variations like cloves.

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