Despite the long-perceived interest and people’s desire for apple and apple-themed items, particularly in the summer, there has been a growing interest in pumpkin and pumpkin products in the food industry. Major food stores and chains seem fixated on pumpkins. McDonalds has recently been offering pumpkin products ranging from pumpkin pies to pumpkin spice lattes, which they began testing in 2012. Similarly, their closest competitors, Starbucks, have also opted to bring up their favorite pumpkin spice lattes, whereas Krispy Kreme has begun offering the popular pumpkin-cheesecake doughnut. Other outlets have also followed suit and have so far introduced their own pumpkin-based products, such as Dunkin Donuts’ pumpkin Coolattas and Red Robin’s milkshakes made of pumpkin pie.
The considerable increase in the introduction of pumpkin-based menus available for a limited time began in August 2012, when some of the largest chains in the U.S. presented nearly 105 pumpkin-themed menu offers. This was much higher than the number of the then-favorite apple-themed menu that was estimated at 45 items on offer. The serious wave of pumpkin being preferred over apple in the fall has also been felt in individually owned restaurants. The restaurants have shown the popularity of pumpkin by introducing pumpkin-themed spice or pumpkin flavors such as clove or cinnamon. This indicates the considerable shift in preference for pumpkin over the customary apple, particularly in autumn.
A spokeswoman at Krispy Kreme reported that customers have also expressed stronger sentiments towards pumpkin items than for apple-themed items. A brand executive at Dunkin Donuts attributes the strong shift to the all-time availability of apples throughout the year compared to pumpkins, which have come to be considered as a fall-only food item.