Autumn arrives earlier than ever for Starbucks and others with pumpkin menu items


Starbucks’ iced pumpkin cream chai tea latte.

Source: Starbucks

In most of the U.S., tree foliage is green and temperatures are warm. But for many restaurants and retailers, fall is already here.

Halloween candy and pumpkin spice lattes used to wait until after Labor Day to make their annual debuts, ushering in the start of fall several weeks before the season officially begins. Technomic tracked the top 400 convenience stores and 500 restaurant chains. The number of limited-time Pumpkin launches in August 2022 was more than twice as many as in August 2019. November is still the most popular month to launch limited-time pumpkin items timed for Thanksgiving, but August is gaining ground.

Restaurants’ and retailers’ extended fall also comes as pumpkin food and beverages become more popular throughout the autumn. By 2022, the number of pumpkin-themed seasonal products will have more than doubled to 559. By 2022, the number had more than doubled to 559 items.

Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, said three reasons have driven the shift.

make money from it, the stuff tastes good and they have consumer research that says they have permission to push the boundaries of timing,” he told CNBC.[The companies]As schools have pushed for an earlier start to the school year, Labor Day has lost some of its status as a seasonal indicator. Fall seems to be just around the corner since many families prepare for school in August. Picking up Halloween candy during back-to-school shopping helps some parents kill two birds with one stone.

Pumpkin spice lattes in August


claims credit for the rise of pumpkin-themed drinks and food, stemming from the introduction of its pumpkin spice latte 20 years ago.“Go back 20 years ago, nothing pumpkin existed in the marketplace. Peter Dukes, who was one of the original designers of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte, told a press conference celebrating the drink’s 20th anniversary that the only pumpkin product available in grocery stores at the time was pumpkin puree. Starbucks has been re-releasing the pumpkin spice lattes in August since 2018. The launch of the Starbucks fall menu on August 24 this year was the same as in 2021. It launched its second pumpkin drink, the pumpkin cream cold-brew in 2019. Both drinks are a response to the growing popularity of cold drinks which make up more than three quarters of all Starbucks orders no matter what the season. They also happen to be more temperature-appropriate options for late August, when many consumers are still battling the heat and seeking air conditioning.

But Eleni Demestihas, a 28-year-old lawyer based in Denver, plans to delay drinking her first pumpkin spice latte of the season, even though she prefers them iced. Demestihas said she typically waits until she can wear a sweatshirt all day — likely sometime in mid-October.

Until then, she’ll just be enjoying the PSL-themed memes.

Dunkin’ beats Starbucks to the pumpkin punch

For all the grumbling over Starbucks’ early fall menu, some of its rivals entered the arena even earlier.

Krispy Kreme

rolled out its pumpkin spice doughnut lineup on August 7.1001010IHOP released its fall menu, including pumpkin spice pancakes and cold foam cold brew, on Aug. 28, six days later than its launch last year.

Krispy Kreme

rolled out its pumpkin spice doughnut lineup Aug. 7.

IHOP released its fall menu, including pumpkin spice pancakes and pumpkin spice cold foam cold brew, on Aug. 28, six days later than its launch last year.“Generally speaking, for us, the timing of anything like this is really based on consumer insights,” IHOP Chief Marketing Officer Kieran Donahue told CNBC.The

Dine Brands

chain typically sells about one million of its pumpkin spice pancakes every time they return to menus.

“The fact of the matter is, it’s a popular menu item … I think we could offer it at any time and people would buy it,” Donahue said.Lizzy Freier, director of menu research and insights at Technomic, said it’s too soon for her to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. Her hometown of Chicago is expecting temperatures to exceed 90 degrees on Labor Day.Luckily for Freier, Demestihas and other consumers who plan to hold off on enjoying their favorite fall treats, the early kickoffs haven’t led companies to pull items faster, according to Freier.

And fear not — plenty of companies are sticking to normal seasonal boundaries.


Hefty isn’t releasing its cinnamon pumpkin spice-scented trash bags until September.