Pumpkin Spice… EVERYTHING


The title of this blog either made you roll your eyes or got your mouth watering. I happen to like pumpkin spice. I do, I admit it freely. However, I am not on the pumpkin spice crazy train. I like things that actually HAVE pumpkin spice in it. Not a bazillion random food goods that are really just pumpkin flavored. Since it is now October, and officially fall (although here in Atlanta today, we will have a high of 89 degree!), I thought we could take a peek into the history of the infamous pumpkin spice blend!

Can you name the spices that make up pumpkin spice? I’ll give you a hint, there are five different spices… Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Thanks to the ever informative Food Timeline website, I found a reference to a “Pumpion Pie,” recipe from the cookbook, The Accomplisht Cook. This cookbook was published in 1685, and while not exactly like pumpkin pie as we know it today, the recipe does call for cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (and also pepper!)- three out of the five spices we use today. Oh, and fun fact, the name pumpkin is derived from the French word pompion, which itself is derived from the Greek word pepon (it means melon!). 


Another cookbook, American Cookery, from 1796 (and that I have referenced here on this blog before) has a recipe for Pompkin that includes ginger, allspice, nutmeg. No cinnamon or cloves, but getting closer! So, what REALLY unified these spices into the seasonal powerhouse that dominates our lives every autumn? Well, in the 1950s, McCormick & Company started bundling common spices, and voila! When combining cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and ginger, they labeled it Pumpkin Pie Spice. Of course, these tasty spices complement a number of cool weather foods, and was never used exclusively for pumpkin pies. In 2003, Starbucks introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte. It was not a new creation, many small coffeehouses had been roasted pumpkin spice coffee beans since the mid-1990s. Of course, Starbucks is no small coffeehouse- with the Pumpkin Spice Latte (affectionately known as the PSL) a star was born. 

Pompkin recipe from American Cookery by Amelia Simmons, 1685. Photo: Library of Congress

Fun fact- the PSL, and in fact MOST pumpkin spice flavored foods DO NOT contain any pumpkin! Nope. The PSL original recipe did not contain pumpkin (it did contain an artificial coloring that contains low levels of a possible carcinogen- yuck!). It was not until 2015, a full 12 years after its introduction, that Starbucks added a small amount of pumpkin (oh, and they removed the artificial coloring- yay!).

In 10 years, from 2003 through 2013, Starbucks sold over 200 million PSLs. Holy moly. But even more unbelievable is that PSLs generate at least $80,000,000 a year. AT LEAST 80 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. With seasonal revenues that high, it really shouldn’t be surprising on how many food products have jumped on the pumpkin pie spice bandwagon. In fact, as of 2016, pumpkin spice consumables (candles, foods, yogurt, cereal, beer, vodka, beard oil… I could go on and on. And yes, that last list item said beard oil. Pumpkin Spice Beard Oil) generates roughly $500 million dollars a year. 

Whether you love or hate the PSL trend, there is no denying the comforting, loving, belly-warming feeling you get from a slice of pumpkin pie. And, if we are being honest, those feelings are thanks to the spices that go into the pie- pumpkin itself is very bland in flavor on its own. Those spices, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves are delicious together. They do make a good team. No matter if you LOVE all things pumpkin spice, or you are a tried and true traditionalist, pumpkin spice has been a part of our fall season for much longer than the current trend. 

So, share your favorite use of pumpkin spice! Mine? I have a pumpkin spice blondie recipe that I love- and for the record, yes it does contain actual pumpkins! I have to admit, the thought of those blondies has made my mouth water… time to break out my pumpkin spice! OH OH OH! How about I share the basic recipe for pumpkin spice so you can make your own?! 

Pumpkin Spice Recipe

3Tbs Ground Cinnamon

2tsp Ground Ginger

1tsp Ground Nutmeg

1tsp Ground Allspice

1/2tsp Ground Cloves

Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place. 

Easy peasy, right? Of course, any of these ingredient amounts can be adjusted to taste. Some recipes call for 4Tbs of cinnamon, in others the amounts of allspice and cloves is bumped up to 1 1/2 tsp each. Others may have 2tsp of nutmeg. Experiment and find the blend that works for you! Happy Fall y’all!

There are still seats available in these great classes this summer at ISAC! Click the links below to register now. 

Renshaw Academy Master Certification Class with Chef Nicholas Lodge, 10/13-10/22

English Over-Piped Elegant Wedding Cake with Ceri Griffiths, 11/7-8


Sweetly yours, 


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