top of page
  • Writer's pictureElizabeth H. Shanks

The Spicy History of Pumpkin Spice

As the leaves change color and the air turns crisp, a familiar aroma fills the air, signaling the arrival of autumn. That unmistakable scent is none other than the warm and comforting fragrance of pumpkin spice. Today, pumpkin spice is synonymous with fall, gracing everything from lattes to candles, to our nutty pecans. But have you ever wondered about the history of this beloved seasonal flavor? Join me on a journey through time to explore the fascinating history of pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin spice pecans

Ancient Beginnings

The story of pumpkin spice begins not in modern coffee shops but in ancient civilizations. Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg were highly prized in various cultures for their medicinal and culinary uses. These spices were often traded along the Silk Road, connecting the East and West, and found their way into a variety of recipes.

The Spice Trade

Spices played a crucial role in the spice trade, which flourished during the Middle Ages. During this time, spices were rare and expensive, making them a symbol of wealth and status. Cinnamon, one of the key components of pumpkin spice, was particularly valuable. It was used not only for flavor but also for its supposed healing properties.

The Advent of Pumpkin Pie

The melding of pumpkin and spices likely occurred in the early American colonies. Native Americans and European settlers had access to pumpkins, which were abundant in North America, and they combined them with the spices brought over from Europe. The result was a delicious and aromatic dish: pumpkin pie.

The First Pumpkin Spice

While the exact origins of the term "pumpkin spice" are unclear, recipes for pumpkin pie seasoning can be traced back to early American cookbooks. In the 18th century, American colonists had developed their own unique blend of spices to enhance the flavor of their pumpkin pies. This blend typically included cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, which are still the core ingredients of today's pumpkin spice.

Commercialization and Popularity

Pumpkin spice's popularity continued to grow in the United States over the years, but it was in the mid-20th century that it really took off. Companies began to produce pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice, making it more accessible to home cooks. This spice blend quickly found its way into other dishes and beverages, including the famous Pumpkin Spice Latte introduced by Starbucks in 2003.

Pumpkin Spice Today

Today, pumpkin spice has become a seasonal sensation. It's no longer limited to just pies and lattes; you can find pumpkin spice in a wide range of products, from cereals to candles. Its enduring appeal lies in its warm, comforting flavors that evoke the nostalgia of autumn.

The history of pumpkin spice is a testament to the enduring power of flavor. What began as a simple blend of spices in ancient times has evolved into a cultural phenomenon, signaling the arrival of fall and warming our hearts and taste buds. So, the next time you savor a pumpkin spice treat, remember that you're participating in a tradition that spans centuries, connecting us to our ancestors and the changing seasons.

As a side note: If you follow us on social then you probably already know this but if you don’t, I love pumpkin spice. Obviously, our Pumpkin Spice Pecans are one of my favorites but muffins, coffees, cookies, breads, you name it and I love it. However, I know this is a very class divided subject so tell me your opinion below.

Are you a lover of Pumpkin Spice?

  • Yes! Give me all the pumpkin!

  • Nope, not even a little.

  • I could take it or leave it.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page