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Pumpkin Spice latte is back at Starbucks (and everywhere else)

For 13 consecutive years, Starbucks has marked the start of fall with the release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The drink -- which officially debuted on Monday -- has become a global phenomenon available to fans in more than 50 countries.

The PSL (as it is affectionately known) is Starbucks' most popular seasonal beverage of all time. It is so popular that it has eclipsed every other drink in 2016 according to Google Trends. In 2016 search interest in PSL surpassed interest in Latte, Cappuccino, Cafe Mocha, and Cold Brew.

Last year, Starbucks began adding real pumpkin to the drink which now features pumpkin spice sauce with real pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg. The coffee part is espresso and steamed milk, then the whole thing is topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie topping.

A PSL can be served over ice or as a Frappuccino blended beverage. This fall, you can also get an almondmilk PSL in select U.S. markets .

Naturally, the return of PSL was a social media event (as was Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz' endorsement of Hillary Clinton on Wednesday) :

No one could have guessed more than a decade ago that Starbucks would launch an entirely new industry -- which should only be referred to as the Pumpkin Spice Industry.

Over the years, the competition has increased. McDonald's, Dunkin Donuts and Panera Bread each offer a pumpkin spice latte as well as other pumpkin infused treats. Starbucks owned Teavana offers Pumpkin Spice tea.

And that's just the drinks. Nestle makes pumpkin spice Tollhouse cookie dough. There is pumpkin spice cereal, pumpkin spice kale chips and pumpkin pie vodka. And who can resist the pumpkin spice Clorox bleach?

Starbucks has learned to capitalize on the popularity of the drink by making the release a week-long event (it was actually available on Sept.1).  And fittingly, there is no official end to pumpkin spice season. The drink quietly fades out when store locations run out of ingredients to make it.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.