When ordering a pumpkin-flavored coffee or food item, have you ever wondered if pumpkin flavor is actually made from pumpkin? The answer is most often—no. Pumpkin flavor is usually created without real pumpkin; the same holds true for sugar free pumpkin spice syrup.
Pumpkin pie, of course, is an exception and is typically made with actual pumpkin. However, many people still don’t realize that most pumpkin-flavored food and drinks don’t contain real pumpkin unless otherwise specified.
Pumpkin spice is a very popular flavor in the U.S., especially during the fall season. Many people like to buy pumpkin spice-flavored items–such as pumpkin spice lattes and pumpkin spice-flavored baked goods–during this time of the year.
What Is in Pumpkin Spice Flavor?
There is no pumpkin content in pumpkin flavor syrups used to make coffees and other food items; instead, it typically contains a blend of different spices that you might already have in your cabinet: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and ginger. All of these spices are commonly used with pumpkin puddings and pumpkin pies, which is why the flavor tends to make people believe that it contains pumpkin.
Today’s flavor companies have come up with a simplified recipe that includes a few substitute ingredients that mimic pumpkin, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. For instance, instead of an actual nutmeg, these flavor companies use a compound known as sabinene; instead of cloves, they use eugenol.
Of course, this simplified recipe does a perfect job of capturing the essence of pumpkin flavor.
What Makes Pumpkin Spice Flavor Popular?
It is no secret that the pumpkin flavor is very popular in America and in other parts of the world. There are various factors contributing to the flavor’s popularity, including limited availability and a familiar sense of autumn comfort. Being that pumpkin is seasonal, it is only available for a limited period of time, so people want to enjoy it more when it is on the shelves and menus as it will soon disappear until next year.
Another contributing factor to the popularity of pumpkin flavor is that the spice combination is ingrained into American culture. People tend to see pumpkin flavor as a comfort food; the spices used to make the flavor are typically associated with the holidays–which is usually a happy, family-oriented time of year.
It is believed that the ingredients used to make pumpkin spice, such as allspice and cinnamon, actually contain antibacterial properties and promote certain health benefits, such as for blood-sugar management. This is yet another reason that contributes to the massive popularity of pumpkin flavor–of course, it must be consumed in moderation–especially considering how much caffeine is in a pumpkin spice latte.
Even though there is no actual pumpkin in pumpkin flavor, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying various pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks as soon as the fall season rolls around. If your pumpkin spice latte inspires special memories of holidays and family gatherings, don’t let too much science ruin the feeling.