The History of Pumpkin Spice

Why has pumpkin spice become so popular over the years?


Christina English

The History of Pumpkin Spice Explored.

When Starbucks released their pumpkin spice latte in 2003, pumpkin spice started to blow up everywhere. People were using it in hand sanitizer, soaps, dog treats, and so much more. But where did pumpkin spice come from? Why did the pumpkin spice latte become so popular?

Well, pumpkin spice actually does not have any pumpkin in it. The spice consists of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and, apparently, nutmeg has been around for a lot longer than we have realized.

“…archaeologists found ancient nutmeg residue on ceramic pottery shards that they estimate to be 3,500 years old,” explains Becky Little, a writer at

These archaeologists discovered the nutmeg on Pulau Ay, an island that is a part of Indonesia. From there, researchers have been able to trace back the history of nutmeg and connect it to the global spice trade. Asia put their spices up to sell, one of them being nutmeg, and it travelled to the Middle East and North Africa, where it went to Europe.

The obsession for spice got so bad that the Dutch traded their colony New Amsterdam (now New York) to the British in the late 1600s for Pulau Run, a Banda Island in what is now Indonesia that the British controlled and was known for their nutmeg.

At this point, the Dutch had control over all of the Spice Islands (the Maluku Islands), where they could access them and make new spices, one of them being similar to pumpkin spice called “speculaaskruiden”. 

From there, people all around the world started to create their own spices that were similar to pumpkin spice. Finally, in 1796, the blend of spices came to the newly founded America. They were able to find it in the first American written cookbook by Amelia Simmons, where she used cinnamon, mace, and ginger. 

Now, where did the pumpkin come from? According to the people at Better Homes and Gardens magazine, “it was the Europeans who enhanced the high sugar content of pumpkin by making it into a pie.” However, pumpkins are originally from North and South America, so, naturally, the spice blend was put together with pumpkins a lot.

Then, thanks to the spice company McCormick, the “pumpkin pie spice” was created in 1934, the spice blend became one of the most popular spice blends that is used all across the world. It has only been recently that people started to get creative and use it with things that are not associated with pumpkin pie.