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10 things you never knew about Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte

Everybody Craves | Meghan Rodgers
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Courtesy of Starbucks
Pumpkin spice everything signals the changing season.

Forget about falling leaves, cozy sweaters and football games, the official signal of fall has arguably become the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte to Starbucks menus nationwide. But before you take a sip of your first PSL this season, here are 10 fun facts you need to know about (almost) everyone’s favorite fall beverage.

1. A smashing pumpkin success

Starbucks sells about 20 million Pumpkin Spice Lattes every year. It remains the store’s best-selling seasonal drink of all time. And more than 200 million have been sold worldwide.

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2. It’s all thanks to Peter Dukes

Peter Dukes was the director of espresso Americas for Starbucks back in 2003. He led a development of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. His team of employees ate slices of pumpkin pie and sipped on espresso to figure out how to combine and balance the flavors. It took three months of testing until the crew settled on the PSL recipe we came to love. “Nobody knew back then what it would grow to be,” Dukes said in a Starbucks news release. “It’s taken on a life of its own.”

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3. It was released its first year in just a few cities

While still in the process of testing, Starbucks rolled out the new latte to 100 stores throughout Vancouver and Washington D.C., to get an idea of how well it would sell. Obviously, things went all right.

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4. But it wasn’t always called the PSL

Back when Duke’s team created the pumpkin-y latte, it was listed on menus as the “Fall Harvest Latte.”

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5. And the recipe has since changed

It might be called the “Pumpkin Spice Latte,” but that doesn’t mean the bright orange gourd is actually used in the recipe. Until 2015, the pumpkin sauce didn’t contain any pumpkin. It was just a blend of seasonal spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. The drink’s warm fall color was thanks to caramel coloring. But with more brands moving away from artificial colors and flavors, Starbucks followed suit.

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6. People crave PSLs on Halloween

People order more Pumpkin Spice Lattes on Oct. 31 than on any other day of the year, according to MyFitnessPal. It makes sense. Halloween acts as a trigger for making you want festive foods. Plus, it’s one day when it’s perfectly acceptable to inhale ridiculous amounts of sugar.

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7. Pumpkin spice nutritional breakdown

Speaking of sugar on Halloween, the PSL is actually quite scary itself. A grande-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte carries about 380 calories and a whopping 50 grams of sugar. It’s also a total dietary-bomb with 52 grams of carbs and 18 grams of fat. Yikes! For a slightly less over-the-top indulgence, hold the whipped cream and go with nonfat milk. You’ll save about 160 calories.

The good (or not good) news is that the PSL doesn’t have much caffeine, so if you want to cozy up with one late at night, you won’t have to worry about being buzzed forever.

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8. The PSL controls your pocketbook

According to a study by the NPD Group, people tend to spend $1.14 more, on average, when they’re ordering a Pumpkin Spice Latte. The organization compiled data from receipts and found that customers purchasing a PSL were admittedly indulging themselves and were therefore more likely to also purchase something to eat with it.

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9. You can be friends with PSL on Twitter

Starbucks PSL is the most popular seasonal drink in the chain’s history. It also has its own Twitter account (called The Real PSL, naturally) with more than 104,000 followers on Twitter.

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10. It’s available worldwide

It might be the first sign of fall in the U.S., but it’s available just about everywhere. Find the PSL in almost 50 countries throughout the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and all over Europe.

Article by Meghan Rodgers,
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