Do Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Products Really Contain Pumpkin?

One of the unmistakable hallmarks of the fall season is pumpkin spice. Unless you've been living under a rock the last few years, you've seen the dizzying array of pumpkin spice products: candles, coffee creamer, granola bars, and of course, the drinks. We have Starbucks to thank for the pumpkin spice latte, originally known as the "Fall Harvest Latte," according to Bustle.

Introduced in 2003, the Starbucks latte was the first of many pumpkin spice beverages we can now enjoy in the autumn months. For many, the drink's return to the menu each year is the official start of the season. Others have tried to ride the coattails of Starbucks' success, creating their own spin on pumpkin spice or boasting of a copy-cat recipe to make at home.

Despite the latte's wild popularity, one controversy has come up. Does the pumpkin spice latte actually contain pumpkin, or is the flavor mimicked by a mix of other ingredients? 

Pumpkin spice — pumpkin or just spices?

When the Starbucks team first developed the pumpkin spice latte, it was very different from the recipe we know and love today. It did not contain pumpkin at all; instead, it used a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, per Adweek. This combination of spices (and its warm, familiar smell) is how so many companies have created their own fall-themed products.

However, come 2015, Starbucks fans discovered the pumpkin spice latte's complete lack of pumpkin. Starbucks was quick to reformulate the drink, this time using real pumpkin purée (via Adweek).

If you still want to make your own pumpkin spice latte at home, but you don't have pumpkin, don't worry. You don't need pumpkin. The signature flavor we associate with pumpkin spice is actually just spices. Real pumpkin flavoring is a lot weaker and doesn't taste the way these fall treats suggest. Maybe Starbucks knew what it was doing by leaving out the pumpkin.