Fall: the season of pumpkin-flavored everything

Photo by Taylor Carr | Staff Photographer. The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte kicked off a phenomenon of pumpkin-flavored food that has taken over the autumn season.

Photo by Taylor Carr | Staff Photographer. The Starbucks pumpkin spice latte kicked off a phenomenon of pumpkin-flavored food that has taken over the autumn season.

By Sean Spencer | Staff Writer

One drink sparked an economic and popularity surge in pumpkin-inspired foods.

Starbucks launched the pumpkin spice latte in the fall of 2003 and sold 200 million of them over the next decade.

With the “PSL,” Starbucks has changed the game for marketing.

According to Jemully Media, Starbucks knows how to read the audience (primarily millennials) and target them with the use of social media, creating posts that are “amusing, creative and visually appealing.” The posts are also diverse, with the use of gifs, images, wit and trending topics.

How Starbucks differentiates itself from the competition is that it continually connects with its audience in a unique way.

Starbucks, through the PSL, has responded and interacted with its audience on social media by incorporating them into the image of the Starbucks brand and what it stands for.

Pumpkin season is exclusively for the fall, therefore creating immense hype every year for Starbucks’ premiere drink.

The PSL has evolved over the years as well, having changed its ingredients along with adding real pumpkin and removing caramel coloring.

The PSL has its own twitter account with about 113,000 followers and a fan club called the “Orange Sleeve Society.” The company has competitions in August with the prize of early access to the treat.

According to Tim Fetter, executive chef at Duquesne University, the Starbucks on campus will be serving a variety of pumpkin-inspired foods to go along with the pumpkin spice latte, including pumpkin cheesecake bars, pumpkin scones and pumpkin bread.

Towers Dining Hall will be serving some pumpkin-flavored items such as pumpkin bisque on Oct. 27. Be on the lookout for the pumpkin spice cake this season. At The Incline, Options and City View Café, cinnamon spice pumpkin soup will be available on September 29.

Pumpkin-flavored foods have become more profitable and popular over the years.

According to a Nielsen U.S. report from 2014, 37 percent of U.S. consumers purchased a pumpkin flavored product.

“Total sales of pumpkin-flavored food, personal and household goods in supermarkets and convenience stores across the U.S. are up 80 percent since 2011,” Forbes reported in 2015.

Forbes estimated that pumpkin spice lattes brought in $100 million in revenue in 2015.

Pumpkin yogurt is up more than 320 percent year-on-year in sales, along with pumpkin cereal at over 180 percent, Forbes reported

According to Mintel Menu Insights, instances of pumpkin as a flavor on restaurant menus are up 21 percent since 2012. For example, dressings are at a 20 percent increase and dips at a six percent increase.

Some people in the Pittsburgh community love pumpkin flavored food.

Sha’Ronda Brookins, freshman at Point Park University, says she loves pumpkin-flavored foods. She recommends any type of pumpkin-flavored food or drink, as she said “it will make your day.”

Marcel Majors, Jr., a freshman at Duquesne University, said that he’s only tried pumpkin flavored cake and pie. However, he wants to give the pumpkin spice latte a try.

With fall now here and seven Starbucks locations within a mile radius from Duquesne, Majors has no reason not to.

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