The Rise of the Pumpkin-Flavored Seasonal Snack

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some local farmers had to look for crops out of state this year, to make up for the loss of their pumpkins due to Tropical Storm Irene and heavy rain over the summer. (Annmarie Fertoli/WNYC)

It’s that time of year when pumpkins are entirely inescapable: pumpkin ale, pumpkin donuts, Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes. The list goes on and on.

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


Felix Salmon

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [3]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Clearly, they need to come up with bacon pumpkin latte...

I always make my own pumpkin seeds with cayenne.

Oct. 17 2012 01:31 PM
monica from Ipswich, MA from boston

try this recipe for a savory pumpkin dish...its french and fantastic...and you use the entire pumpkin...

Oct. 17 2012 11:45 AM
Mary from Savannah, GA

That calorie equivalent of bacon slices to latte sounded off to me. Each thin slice of bacon is about 45 calories so a 480-calorie latte is more like 11 slices not 17. It's crazy enough, no need to exaggerate.

Oct. 17 2012 10:06 AM

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