There generally is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice (a.k.a pumpkin pie spice). The name comes from pumpkin spice giving pumpkin pie its distinct flavor, not its ingredients. Recently, some companies have started adding negligible amounts of pumpkin to their pumpkin spice flavored products so they can put “made with real pumpkin” (or some other similar deceptive marketing gimmick) on their labels.
The pumpkin spice flavor can be composed of just a handful of spices, hundreds of chemical compounds, or a combination of both. For example, sabinene can be used instead of nutmeg and eugenol instead of clove. Every company has their own “secret recipe.”
The “natural and artificial flavors” ingredient listed on pumpkin spice flavored food/drink product labels can be a cheap way for companies to reproduce the pumpkin pie flavor artificially. “Natural and artificial flavors” can be created using synthetic chemistry in a factory rather than being extracted from real plants. If you are wary of consuming artificially created things, look for the actual ingredients of the spices (nutmeg, allspice, etc.) on the nutritional label.
One of the first references to this spice blend appeared in “American Cookery,” which was the first cookbook written by an American. In the recipe, “Pompkin,” the author mixes sugar, nutmeg, mace, molasses, allspice, and ginger into a pumpkin pudding.
In 1936, this spice blend was officially called pumpkin spice in a Washington Post article named, “Spice Cake Of Pumpkin Newest Dish: Delicacy Tempting to All Appetites and Easy to Prepare. Ideal Dessert for Family Dinner, Healthful for Children.”
In the 1950’s, the spice company, McCormick, started mass producing and selling “pumpkin pie spice,” and the rest is history.
- Pumpkin is a fruit
- In 2016, pumpkin spice consumables produced $500 million in sales.
- The pumpkin spice craze in America started in the winter of 2003 when Starbucks created a seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte
- NPR.org – Just What Is In Pumpkin Spice Flavor? (Hint: Not Pumpkin)
- 10best.com – Pumpkin spice is a big fat lie
- Wikipedia-.org – Pumpkin Spice
- MentalFloss.com – What Is Pumpkin Spice?