NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Autumn means football season, sweater weather, Thanksgiving, and—for the past fourteen years—pumpkin spice.
Since Starbucks unveiled the Pumpkin Spice Latte in 2003, the flavor has become a cultural phenomenon. Its autumn arrival is as predictable as the turning of leaves. Fodder for Instagram posts and satirical cartoons, the pumpkin spice flavor is as beloved as it is reviled.
But why all the hype?
Liz Dunn has the answer. Founder and CEO of the brand consulting firm Talmage Advisors, Dunn is also building an analytics startup to help retailers utilize data more efficiently.
Dunn explained that, while the concept of a seasonal flavor is hardly unprecedented, the habits of today’s consumer are.
“What’s changed is how we’re interacting with brands, and the fact that we want to share everything we’re doing with the world,” she said.
The pumpkin spice latte has become a form of online social currency that shows little sign of quitting, according to Dunn.
“About two years ago, interest in pumpkin spice lattes leveled off, but interest in pumpkin spice things of any type has actually continued to grow,” Dunn said.
Pumpkin spice flavor is infused into everything from IPAs to dog treats.
Web Extra: Best Pumpkin Spice Drinks In NYC
According to Dunn, although pumpkin spice suffers condemnation for its ubiquity, it has embedded itself deeply in the national consciousness. Pumpkin spice lattes “are available for a limited time only, they signal something about a change in season, and consumers kind of coalesce around the idea of this being part of their experience of holiday.”
Whether your stance on pumpkin spice is opposition or obsession, the flavor is here to stay—that is, at least for a few more weeks.
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