Hobbit Business Review

Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte Is Celebrating a 20-Year Reign Nobody Expected, Especially Its Co-Creator

Key Takeaways

  • The Pumpkin Spice Latte has been a fall staple for 20 years.

  • It was born from a shot of espresso and a slice of pumpkin pie.

The fall season and Pumpkin Spice Lattes go hand-in-hand, all thanks to Starbucks‘ signature autumn beverage.

Starbucks’ most popular seasonal drink (with 600 million PSL sold in two decades, per CNN) is celebrating 20 years of the Pumpkin Spice Lattes this fall. However, Starbucks never imagined the beverage would become such a staple following its launch in 2003 after its humble beginnings.

After seeing success with peppermint and mocha seasonal beverages during the 2002 holiday season, Peter Dukes, one of the original co-creators of the PSL, recalled to Fox Business how the idea for the now-staple drink came to be when a group of Starbucks employees experimented with a slice of pumpkin pie and a shot of espresso to think up a pumpkin-favored drink.

Screengrab courtesy of Fox News | Peter Dukes talking about the creation of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

“Literally, we took some espresso, just poured it on the pumpkin pie, and then tasted it,” Dukes’ said of their process.

The taste test led to the creation of the pumpkin spice latte syrup that mimics the richness of pumpkin pie.

The launch was a hit, and “Pumpkin Spice” has since become a household name ever since, something its creators never expected.

“If you asked anybody in that room if pumpkin spice was going to become an entire industry … nobody would have guessed that,” Duke told the outlet. “It’s been kind of cool to see it take off.”

Since the launch of the PSL, the pumpkin spice industry at large has generated $511 million as of 2019, per CNBC.

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