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Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte turns 20, slated to return Thursday


(KTLA/NEXSTAR) — With the summer season slowly fading away and fall on the horizon, many people are gearing up for the return of everything pumpkin spice. Starbucks announced Wednesday that its famous pumpkin spice latte will return to coffee shops nationwide on Thursday, along with other seasonal items.

The fan favorite drink will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

These items will join the pumpkin spice latte on this year’s limited-time fall menu.

  • Pumpkin Cream Chai Latte
  • Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew
  • Iced Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato
  • Baked Apple Croissant
  • Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin
  • Owl Cake Pop

Starbucks lovers can also get pumpkin-spiced flavored items at their local grocery stores, ranging from pumpkin spice-flavored coffee creams to chilled coffee drinks. The coffee company will also bring its pumpkin spice lineup to its Starbucks Reserve locations nationwide for the first time.

Guests visiting those locations can purchase the Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Barrel-Aged Iced Latte and the Pumpkin Spice Espresso Martini, among other drinks and food items.

Other chains will also offer pumpkin-spiced flavored drinks and beverages for the upcoming fall season.

7-Eleven rolled out its seasonal fall offering on August 1 and Krispy Kreme announced that it will be pumpkin spice treats for humans and dogs.

From flop to favorite

The drink was not a huge hit with taste-testers when it was proposed in 2003, Starbucks veteran Tim Kern told Quartz in 2013. The reason for some of the skepticism was part of why it would ultimately become so popular: the flavor.

“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,” Kern said.

Then-Starbucks product manager Peter Dukes — who’s considered “the father of the pumpkin spice latte” — says tasters’ concerns almost kept the drink from seeing the light of day. Dukes, who admits that PSL wasn’t a favorite among other new flavors being considered at that time, has frequently opined that the Pumpkin Spice Latte was “the flavor that almost wasn’t.”

The flavor was first introduced at about 100 stores in Washington D.C. and Vancouver, Canada, in 2003. Forbes estimated Starbucks sold 200 million PSLs by 2010 and made about $100 million on them by 2015.

The beverage combines Starbucks’ espresso and steamed milk with flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Real pumpkin is also incorporated into the recipe, according to the coffee giant.

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