Monthly Archives: October 2021

Explaining the Pumpkin Spice Latte Craze

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver runs a segment every fall called “IT’S PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE SEASON! YEAH!!!!!”, showing clips of news anchors ushering in the beverage interspersed with a voice on the show yelling things like, “Soon All of Existence Shall Be Cradled In The Fragrant Pumpkin Arms Of the Spice!”

It’s hysterical and not quite hyperbole. 

Right now, it’s pumpkin everything season from candles, gourds, cereal, pies, ice cream, pasta, salsa, and beer. 

But no pumpkin item or product can touch the popularity of pumpkin spice latte or PSL. What started not too long ago as a novelty now dominates the coffee culture, and the coveted beverage is trotted out earlier and earlier each year. 

Why the craze? We explain below. 

When did it Become so Popular?

Starbucks introduced the flavor in 2003, piloting it at 100 stores in the U.S. and Canada.  

“A number of us thought it was a beverage so dominated by a flavor other than coffee that it didn’t put Starbucks’ coffee in the best light,” said the late Tim Kern, a former Starbucks executive in a Yahoo! interview from 2013.

PSL instantly started breaking company records and was rolled out in all stores the following year. But it truly became a cultural sensation in the early to mid-‘10s. Naturally, other companies jumped on the bandwagon, including Dunkin, McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, Peet’s, and so on. 

Focusing just on Starbucks, data from 2019 showed that PSL was available in 50 countries, and an estimated 424 million drinks had been sold, bringing in approximately $1.4 billion. The Twitter account of the brand had 100,000 followers, and 1.7 million posts on Instagram had tagged the drink.

This year, Starbucks released PSL on August 24, closer to the dog days of summer than the start of fall. 

Social Media

In between shouting matches over whatever, people love posting pictures of food and drink on social media. It’s fair to say that without the rise of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, PSL wouldn’t be the juggernaut that it is today. 

The timing could not have been better because these social media channels began taking off as people were learning about PSL through word of mouth. Soon everyone began posting selfies with the drink, and according to Fast Company, Starbucks sold about 200 million PSLs, then doubled it over the next five years, while strategically expanding it around the globe.


Let’s turn to academia for this explanation. 

The same Fast Company article interviewed Kelly Haws, a Vanderbilt marketing professor who specializes in consumers’ food decision-making, who said, “The flavor brings back positive memories for people around family, the holidays, and the fall. It’s also typically coupled with something sweet and fattening, and we have an innate need and desire for sugar and fat, and many of these pumpkin spice products have a lot of both.” 

Pumpkin spice latte is here to stay, and if you haven’t yet, you better get used to it.  Speaking of pumpkin and fall treats (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT), we’ve got quite a lineup, including our Hello Halloween and Jack of all Treats gift baskets.

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The Health Benefits of Apples

Back by popular demand is our next installment of “The Health Benefits of Fill-in-the-Blank” series.

This one may seem pretty easy because of course we know that apples are healthy. However, we never want to make any assumptions, and “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t necessarily true. There are exceptions. Within the same 24 hours of eating an apple, you could also sprain your ankle. Taking it a step further, you could sprain your ankle WHILE eating an apple. 

But I digress. 

Synonymous with fall (apple-picking anyone?),apples are really healthy, and below, we go bobbing for the reasons why. But we do not condone bobbing for apples because it was gross even before the pandemic. 

What a Variety!

Can we first talk about the cornucopia of apples that exists? 

  • Red Delicious
  • McIntosh
  • Crispin
  • Gala
  • Granny Smith
  • Fuji
  • Honeycrisp

Seven different kinds! Except, there are many more, which is why we write such informative blog posts:

  • Pink Lady
  • Envy
  • Jazz
  • Braeburn
  • Golden Delicious
  • Opal
  • Lady Alice
  • Hidden Rose
  • Jonagold
  • Empire
  • Cosmic Crisp Apples

Yes, Cosmic Crisp is a thing, and you can try for yourself at Trader Joe’s. There are more we’re leaving out, but you get the idea. 

Now onto the benefits. 

Great Source of Fiber

Apples are packed with vitamins and minerals and are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber. According to Healthline, apple pectin can reduce the risk of heart disease and improve gut health. To boot, soluble fiber makes you feel fuller. 

Packed with Nutrients

Nutrient is a great example of an onomatopoeia because it really does sound like its meaning, as in when you hear the word, you think nutritious, and foods that are nutritious are good for you. 

Apples are loaded with nutrients like fiber, potassium, manganese (not to be confused with magnesium), magnesium (not to be confused with manganese, though it’s usually the other way around), and vitamins, A, E, B1, B2, B6, C, and K. 


Going beyond the skin and deeper into the body of this fruit, apples don’t just contain fiber, but soluble fiber, which is known to lower blood cholesterol levels. They also have polyphenols, naturally occurring organic compounds that promote heart-health, which is very important, considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in America. 

Stronger Bones

Hey, it’s almost Halloween, so it’s apropos to discuss bones. We need to build healthy bones because unhealthy ones become brittle and literally make the body more fragile. 

Studies show that eating apples is linked to higher bone density, which certainly helps bone health. Healthline cites a study comparing a group of participants who ate apples to those who didn’t, and the former lost less calcium, meaning their bones were healthier. 


Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “What about antioxidants? What happened to them?! Someone send a search party!!! 

We just wanted to keep you in suspense. 

It wouldn’t be a “The Health Benefits of Fill-in-the-Blank” blog post without a reference to our free radical-fighting, loyal friends that protect us against disease. You bet your red and delicious apple that they comprise antioxidants, which come from the fruit’s flavonoids. According to research, antioxidants in apples slow the spread of cancer cells and protect your pancreas, lowering your chances of type 2 diabetes. 

Remember, reaping the health benefits of apples means eating them as is and not dipped in caramel, enveloped in a crostata, or mixed into a pie. But all bets are off on Thanksgiving. 

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