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    Open Season for Pumpkin Flavors

    Foodservice operators continue to innovate with spicy notes

    By Kathy Hayden

    What started as a Starbucks pumpkin spice coffee flavor in 2003 has blossomed into a Franken-flavor industry, with more and more retail and restaurant chains offering pumpkin-flavored food and drink for autumn. In fact, restaurant menu listings with pumpkin as a flavor have jumped 21 percent since 2012, reports Mintel Menu Insights.

    Still mining the depths of pumpkin territory is Starbucks’ new Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar, featuring a blonde brownie base with a cheesecake topping swirled with spiced pumpkin. And Peet's Coffee & Tea has debuted Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Mocha, a rich combination of pumpkin, fall spices, espresso and dark chocolate.

    The pumpkin flavor patch is also flourishing outside of café locales. Cold Stone Creamery, for example, bills its Harvest Pumpkin Cheesecake ice cream as a new twist on the trendy pumpkin flavor. The pumpkin/cheesecake combination is a popular extension, with McDonald’s also offering this pairing in a seasonal pie.

    For more grown-up flavor fun, there’s even pumpkin-flavored vodka and the yearly batches of hand-crafted pumpkin beers.

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

    • Pumpkin hand pies for grab-and-go desserts
    • Savory roasted pumpkin sides and soups served up as daily specials
    • Spiced pumpkin seeds as a seasonal addition to the salad bar
    By Kathy Hayden
    • About Kathy Hayden

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