The first taste of fall has arrived on menus

As the summer comes to a close and cooler weather arrives, fall’s unofficial favourite flavour – pumpkin spice – is finding its way onto menus earlier and earlier. While fall doesn’t actually arrive until September 23, some QSRs are using back-to-school to launch their fall LTOs in the late summer, starting with the launch of hot and cold pumpkin spice beverages.

7-Eleven led the charge this year, releasing its pumpkin-flavoured drinks on August 1. In the last four years, major QSRs have steadily moved up their fall flavour releases, advertising pumpkin spice well before the seasons change. Studies show that in 2019 Dunkin’ Donuts released its pumpkin lineup on August 21, while this year’s release was on August 16.

Starbucks has sold over 600 million pumpkin spice lattes since its creation in 2003. The ever-popular Starbucks PSL is among the last to be released this year, however. Celebrating 20 years since its inception, Starbucks is expected to launch the PSL and its full fall lineup on August 24, a week earlier than last year’s release.

It’s not just pumpkin-themed beverages hitting menus this year! Tim Horton’s plans to release its U.S. fall features on August 24 , adding pumpkin spice muffins and donuts to the lineup. Even earlier, Krispy Kreme’s pumpkin spice donuts arrived on August 7, adding a few new additions like the pumpkin spice maple pecan donut to the list. This may only be the start of pumpkin-mania, as Dave Skena, Krispy Kreme’s global chief brand officer, hints that there may be more pumpkin-themed releases later in the fall, “to keep it interesting.”

Why are QSRs launching their pumpkin-flavoured products even earlier each year? Studies show it’s to give the people what they want; the fall favours bring back a sense of nostalgia that customers are craving, even while it’s still hot outside.

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Not only are QSRs introducing this fan-favourite flavour earlier in the season, but they are also planning to extend its run well into October, before beginning to introduce their holiday features. Consumer demand is dictating the extended length of the traditional fall LTO, so it looks like pumpkin spice is here to stay, in all its iterations, from late summer through the fall season.