Let the Pumpkiness Begin


As a nutritionist, I feel compelled to at least tell you the 16 oz grande #PSL will set you back 350 calories, including 48 grams of sugar. That’s 12 teaspoons in case your counting. But alas, this is not a calorie counting post nor a sugar bashing one. I’m more interested in pumpkin ingredients. According to the Starbucks website, the #PSL contains ‘pumpkin spice sauce’:

Milk, Pumpkin Spice Sauce [Sugar, Condensed Skim Milk, Pumpkin Puree, Contains 2% Or Less Of Fruit And Vegetable Juice For Color, Natural Flavors, Annatto, Salt, Potassium Sorbate], Brewed Espresso.

Updated 9/22/2019

Hard to believe it’s been sixteen years since Starbucks introduced the now infamous #PSL drink replete with it’s own twitter handle @TheRealPSL boasting 105K followers. This year the pumpkin spiced latte launched earlier than it ever has before, 6 days before Labor Day — though it was edged out with an even earlier release date by Dunkin’!

The popularity of pumpkin in coffee is evidenced by the fact sales of pumpkin flavored ready-to-drink coffee (26.5%) and liquid coffee creamer (11.9%) were both up in 2018. It looks like that #PSL mobile-order has some competition. Though the pumpkin craze isn’t limited to beverage. In fact, 2018 saw a more than 15% growth in ‘pumpkin’ flavored products, according to Nielsen Retail Measurement Services.

There are quite a few options, many of which fall into that ‘limited time offer’ category, that have actual pumpkin or pumpkin puree listed as an ingredient. Here is a random few ranging from healthier to indulgent - from smaller companies to Big Food:



The net of all this pumpkiness? It’s safe to say consumers have and will predictably want pumpkin something-er-other each Autumn like clockwork. Pumpkin-flavored products now regularly reach nearly $450 million in sales annually in the U.S. leading to the so called ‘pumpkin spice economy.’ And while pumpkin pie filling dropped 1% in 2018 (based on year over year sales), it still represents the largest chunk of the pumpkin market. Notable growth areas include ice cream and pet foods, as found in Grandma Lucy’s organic baked dog treats.

One final thought that may go into the category of stating the obvious. Straight pumpkin, not sweetened or spiced, is sold cheaply by the can, and by the BPA-free liner can at that. Best not get me started on how much of your daily beta-carotene is in that one can! Speaking of canned goods, research is out suggesting that pumpkin seed oil may protect against adverse effects of bisphenol A or ‘BPA’. It’s only one animal study, so let’s not over-interpret, though it is one more reason to love all things pumpkin this time of year.