Last year more than 60 pumpkin-related dishes appeared on the menus of America’s top 250 chain restaurants. According to restaurant industry analyst Dataessential, 2012 is on track to break last year’s records.
So why pumpkins? And what’s the economic impact? Felix Salmon, finance blogger at Reuters, investigates.
"The single most popular pumpkin dish is pumpkin curry," Salmon says. "Who knew?"
The irony of all this pumpkin madness, he says, is that most of these dishes do not even have any pumpkin in them. "Pumpkin is a way of saying sugar, and nutmeg, and clove, and cinnamon, and all those autumnal spices. It's not really about pumpkin at all."
So it isn't the pumpkin that we love, but the things that pumpkin connotes - the changing of the season, the crisp fall air, and the colorful foliage. "People don't actually like the taste of pumpkin," Salmon says. "They like the taste of fall."
The major contribution of this phenomenon to the economy? Calories. "That pumpkin spice latte has 480 calories," Felix Salmon says. To put this into perspective, he adds, that's the same as "17 slices of bacon." Perhaps the pumpkin spice latte will be the next victim of a Bloomberg ban.