What’s In Your Latte?

I admit it. I’m guilty of it.

Succumbing to the annual temptation of purchasing any product – every product – with pumpkin in the name. Every fall, shelves are stocked with yogurt, coffee, creamer, ice cream, cereal, bread, Oreos, M&Ms, chai lattes and more labeled “pumpkin” or “pumpkin spice.” Many of these treats actually do not contain pumpkin at all, but the flavor of pumpkin pie spice, a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.

Can the pumpkin spice craze all be traced back to Starbucks’ beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte?
Love it or hate it, the PSL has made its mark on fall. Since Starbucks introduced the drink in 2003, more than 200 million cups have been sold. You can even follow the Pumpkin Spice Latte on Twitter @TheRealPSL. (By the way, the account has more than 95 thousand followers.) McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and many other chains have their own versions of Starbucks’ seasonal beverage.

You’ve probably heard by now about the health perils of Starbucks’ autumn concoction. If not, the numbers are even more frightening than a spooky Halloween costume. Sugar, chemicals, and mysterious concoctions abound.

A quick search for “Starbucks pumpkin spice latte” returns telling results. The first two responses are from Starbucks.com. Starbucks’ online menu gives a description of the concoction: “cinnamon, milk, clove, creamy milk, real pumpkin pie spices.” So far, so good.

The menu also lists the nutrition facts for a standardized grande PSL. The drink clocks in at 380 calories and 49 grams of sugar. Upgrade to a venti? You’ll find yourself at 470 calories and 62 grams of sugar. (According to the World Health Organization, normal-weight adults should only consume about 25 grams per day of added sugar.)

What about when you scroll past Starbucks’ cleverly marketed webpage? The next three results I found were titled “You’ll Never Guess What’s In a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (Hint: You Won’t Be Happy,)” “The Ugly Truth About Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte” and “Battle brews over ingredients in Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes.”

The articles about the potentially dangerous ingredients, artificial coloring, lack of actual pumpkin and staggering nutrition facts that make up the drink have gone viral on social media, prompting many customers to second guess their fall go-to drink.

Does this mean you can never again indulge in the warm autumnal goodness that is the PSL? That’s up to you. There’s always the option of customizing a standard coffee with a pump or two of pumpkin syrup, or recipes abound online for homemade pumpkin coffee and lattes. Do your homework before indulging in one of these treats.