Pumpkin Spice Has Been Around Way Longer Than You Think

The leaves are changing color, and the weather's getting cooler. But the most important sign that the fall season is finally starting? The return of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte. This year, the coffeehouse chain brought back its popular drink in August alongside the other new fall drinks making their debut. But Starbucks isn't the only company that's been releasing pumpkin spice items each fall. If you head over to Aldi, you'll find plenty of pumpkin spice products lining the shelves. Interestingly, there's a scientific reason that explains why pumpkin spice is such a popular flavor, and there's also some history about this particular spice you might not know.

While it might seem that the pumpkin spice trend started in the 2000s, there's evidence that pumpkin spice has been around for much longer. In a news release from 2018, the University of Washington said that archaeologists found remains of nutmeg in ceramic from the island Pulau Ay, which is part of the Banda Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Nutmeg is one of the spices that make up the classic pumpkin spice mix, and these nutmeg remains were dated to be from around 3,500 years ago. Though this might not be the same spice blend we know today, the ingredients that make up modern pumpkin spice aren't new.

More about the history of pumpkin spice

So when did the pumpkin spice blend come together? Better Homes & Gardens gives us a little bit more of the history, saying that the spice trade in Asia played a role, and the Dutch began to blend some of the spices they acquired. The publication also mentions that the 1796 cookbook "American Cookery" by Amelia Simmons has a recipe for pumpkin pie with the spices mace, ginger, and nutmeg.

According to Food & Wine, companies that made spices — like McCormick & Company — created pumpkin pie spice blends so that bakers didn't have to combine them themselves. McCormick's pumpkin pie spice blend came out in 1934, and now, its blend has cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger. But it wasn't until 2003 that Starbucks launched the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and Peter Dukes helped come up with the iconic fall drink. The Pumpkin Spice Latte has been called "basic" (and here's how Dukes feels about the label), but the flavors that make up pumpkin spice have been around for thousands of years, and the spice combination for centuries.

Want to become a pumpkin spice expert? Here's where the flavor of pumpkin spice comes from, and here's how to make your own copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte right in your own kitchen.