Many consumers were still in the throes of summer vacation when pumpkin spice latte season officially began on Sept. 4—the date Starbucks announced the return of PSL via Facebook Live. While the announcement was greeted by cheers from fans who eagerly anticipated its return, some analysts are predicting that the cheers may not be quite as loud this year. Data analytics company 1010data revealed that while the number of pumpkin spice products available online has surged nearly 50%, sales themselves are growing by just 21%.
Pumpkin vs. maple
While consumers’ appetite for pumpkin spice may be waning, restaurants are still planning to feed the frenzy this fall. But to hedge their bets, some operators are also looking into other trending seasonal flavors—especially maple. According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, maple has increased nearly 86% as a nonalcoholic beverage flavor year over year and almost 14% in appetizer mentions. Here’s how pumpkin and maple are duking it out on menus this season.
Coffee meets bagel
Au Bon Pain’s current marketing promos encourage customers to “Spread the Flavor of Fall” by opting for a new bagel spread that blends maple and pumpkin into the chain’s proprietary maple-pumpkin butter. Also on the roster is a pumpkin pie latte, billed as “a pumpkin pick-me-up.”
Dunkin’ Donuts expanded its usual roster of fall pumpkin-spiced items with the launch of a maple-flavored menu. Maple-pecan coffees and lattes lead the lineup, with a Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich on the food side. The sandwich boasts a double portion of caramelized maple sugar cherrywood-smoked bacon, layered with egg and cheese on a croissant. But Dunkin’s hasn’t abandoned pumpkin. Also ready for fall is a pumpkin doughnut and muffin, pumpkin coffees and a new pumpkin cream cheese spread.
From breakfast to dinner
Cracker Barrel is infusing its menu with maple and pumpkin flavors that span the dayparts. The full-service chain is offering pumpkin spice pancakes to jumpstart the morning. Two other breakfast additions include a maple pepper bacon breakfast sandwich with two fried eggs, ham, tomato, lettuce and colby cheese on sourdough bread, as well as a pumpkin spice muffin. Dinner guests have the choice of Maple Pecan Fried Chicken and a pumpkin custard topped with gingersnap crumble for dessert.
Scooping up fall flavors
Belgian Waffle is the featured seasonal flavor at Baskin-Robbins, created with a base of maple-praline flavored ice cream swirled with a ribbon of caramel and dotted with waffle pieces and praline pecans. The ice cream chain is also returning some old favorites, including its Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream and Pumpkin Cheesecake Milkshake.
Pumpkin still rules
Tim Horton’s is betting on all pumpkin, all the time with four fall LTOs. The food menu includes Pumpkin Spice Timbits (bite-sized doughnut holes), a pumpkin spice glazed doughnut and a pumpkin spice muffin filled with cinnamon roll frosting. To wash it all down is the Pumpkin Spice Iced Capp, an iced cappuccino topped with whipped cream and a graham crumble.