When the temperature inches away from the stifling summer highs and the first leaves drop from the trees, one sentence takes over our Pinterest boards and Facebook feeds: “It’s pumpkin spice latte time.”
Starbucks singlehandedly started an autumnal revolution when it introduced its pumpkin spice latte in 2003, bringing the pumpkin from decorative gourd to full-on cultural phenomenon. The latte spawned a league of loyal devotees, as well as dozens of imitators from nearly every coffee shop chain in the country.
The pumpkin spice latte was born because Starbucks executives were looking for more seasonal flavors to follow up on the success of the peppermint mocha latte. Most of the ideas for a fall latte focused on Halloween candy flavors like chocolate and caramel, but one brave product manager, Peter Dukes, believed the taste of pumpkin, rather than candy, was best suited to fall — and history was made.
CNN has gone so far as to suggest that Starbucks is responsible for a boom not just in pumpkin spice lattes but in pumpkin farms around the country. Acreage in U.S. pumpkin farming has increased by a third in the decade since America fell in love with the pumpkin spice latte, and sales of pumpkin flavored foods as a whole increased by 14 percent last year alone.
This pumpkin popularity has brought on another increase: our waistlines. There may be nothing inherently unhealthy about pumpkins, but Americans seem to view the gourd as a base flavor best served with sugar for candies, pies, and above all, super-sweet, whipped-cream-topped coffee.
How much are our pumpkin lattes costing us calorie-wise? To find out, we’ve ranked top coffee shop chains’ versions based on the nutritional information posted on the companies’ websites. All lattes listed are the large size with whole milk and without whipped cream (unless otherwise specified).
#10 Au Bon Pain Pumpkin Pie Latte (16 oz)
290 calories, 7 grams fat, 115 mg sodium, 49 grams carb, 47 grams sugar
290 calories and nearly 12 tablespoons of sugar is the healthest option, but as always, black coffee is best if you’re looking to cut calories at the coffee shop.
#9 Krispy Kreme (12oz) Pumpkin Spice Latte
310 calories, 11 grams fat, 120 mg sodium, 43 grams carbs,
Krispy Krème stays just this side of unhealthy by keeping their latte smaller than the rest of these behemoths. Still, 310 liquid calories is a lot to swallow.