The pumpkin spice latte was invented in the mad scientist labs at the Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle. It is the same lab that concocted mad creations like the Eggnog Latte, the Peppermint Mocha, and what I am assuming is the Unicorn Frappuccino. (One of my favorites is the much-maligned fruitcake frap, which flavorwise strongly resembles a Filipino dessert shake). The pumpkin spice latte (or as the cool kids call it, “the PSL”) was introduced in 2003.
The flavor is a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove (along with a whopping 49 grams of sugar in the grande). In 2015, food blogger Vani “Food Babe” Hari raises concerns that pumpkin spice latte did not contain any actual pumpkin. Starbucks at first responded that it was meant to evoke the spices in pumpkin pie and not actual pumpkin… but then it included a trace amount of pumpkin purée starting in 2015. So… if you order a pumpkin spice latte these days, you’re drinking pumpkin now… thanks to blogs!
The PSL also saw life a meme, mainly for white women to dunk on other white women. You will often hear the PSL paired with the word “basic” and then paired with a word that is banned in the comments section. Below is an example of one of the more wholesome memes.
Part of the reason for the meme? The rise of the PSL coinciding with the rise of Instagram, and so many photos and hashtags from mainly white women about the thrill and excitement that comes from drinking the first #PSL of the year. As one post proudly declares in a caption accompanying the image of said latte: “I don’t care if I’m basic! Happy Fall, y’all!”
This year, the PSL expands its frontier of being the symbol of all things uncool. Basic gets even more basic with the PSL cold brew.
What does the inventor of the PSL, Peter Dukes, think about it’s “basic” rep? According to an interview with Business Insider:
“People seem to have fun with the PSL,” Dukes said, noting the beverage has become a “marker of fall.”
He added: “And, if that’s basic so be it.”
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