Peak Pumpkin? Maple Surges in Battle of Autumn Flavors


The big debate this fall is maple versus pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin spice flavoring is reportedly losing its popularity to new maple products after years of pumpkin invading our stomachs, souls and coffee cups with autumn vibes—although not all of Long Island is ready to make the switch.

“I feel like the fact that [pumpkin spice is] around for a short amount of time and it’s different than vanilla and hazelnut with that little extra spice—and then it’s gone—it creates an excitement for it to come back,” said Valley Stream resident Stephanie Pontillo, manager of the Babylon Bean Coffee House. “Even though you can technically get it all year long, we have pumpkin bread all year long, other people I know cut themselves off after a certain amount of time.”

Not everyone is so pro-pumpkin.

“I prefer maple spice but I hate pumpkin flavoring,” said Carly Hayes, manager of Bellmore Bean Cafe. “I’ve never been a fan of pumpkin.”

Hayes isn’t the only maple fan. There is a 49 percent increase of pumpkin spice products in the national market, but each year their sales only go up 21 percent, according to a report by MarketWatch that cited a study by 1010data, an analytics company. That means people aren’t consuming pumpkin spice products—from pumpkin spice coffee to pumpkin spice gum—at the rate they’re being sold. The study also found sales of non-alcoholic maple beverages are up 86 percent this year.

“We may be at peak spice, and we’ll quickly know whether pumpkin spice has jumped the shark as this season’s sales roll in,” Samir Bhavnani, area vice president at 1010data, told MarketWatch.

While there are reports that pumpkin spice is going out of style, many local business owners, national coffee chains and all around pumpkin fans still swear by the seasonal flavor.

“For our guests, seasons evoke feelings of nostalgia, and when seasons change our fans are looking for products that are going to evoke those feelings and memories,” said Justin Drake, senior manager of public relations for Dunkin’ Brands—a chain with 200 locations in Nassau and Suffolk.

In a Twitter poll, people on the Island voted for Pumpkin Spice versus Maple, 58 to 44 percent. So don’t expect the classics to retire anytime soon.

“The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is an annual tradition for many customers and baristas…while we have offered maple products to customers in the past, there are no maple items currently on our menu,” said a spokesperson from Starbucks, crafter of the famous of Pumpkin Spice Latte. “The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage of all time.”

While the spice’s market dominance may be softening, Starbucks’ rival, Dunkin’ Donuts, isn’t dumping pumpkin anytime soon. But they are riding the maple wave.

“Pumpkin has been great for us and it’s not going anywhere,” Drake said. “But we want to continue introducing exciting new flavors that we think are relevant for this time of year, such as our new Maple Pecan flavor for our coffee and espresso beverages, as well as our Maple Sugar Bacon Breakfast Sandwich.”