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Autumn is coming. Maple and pumpkin-flavored drinks must battle for the throne

Image: Reuters/Andrew Winning
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Love it or hate it, pumpkin spice is back. Although it’s theoretically a fall drink, the flavor has already been popping up in cookies, donuts, cereals, and—as of Sept. 1—Starbucks lattes. It’s much like “the Christmas creep, but orange,” the New York Times declared (paywall).

But now, after 14 years on the throne (and Starbucks eventually going to the lengths of putting some actual pumpkin in the drink), a new flavor is consolidating its power: maple.

Finally, the dominance of pumpkin spice is fading, MarketWatch reports, citing 1010data, an analytics company. Evan as the number of products including the flavor grow—there are 49% more products featuring pumpkin spice each year—sales can’t hold that pace. They tend to grow at a rate of only 21% each year.

“Consumers are fickle and probably looking for something new already,” Pat Cobe, a senior editor at Technomic, a data and analytics provider told Marketwatch. “Maple is surging.”

Sales of maple-flavored products are up 86% in nonalcoholic beverages, and 14.6% in spiked drinks in 2017, compared with the same quarter last year. Companies such as Dunkin Donuts, which have tried to compete with Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice latte in the past, are betting on the flavor, with a maple pecan coffee to kick off fall.

The trend takes takes a leaf out of Japan’s book, where fried maple leaves are a post-summer delicacy. And of course Canadians, whose flag is emblazoned with a maple leaf, have long adored the flavor—and mourned its bastardization in imitation form.

Maple shouldn’t be a hard sell. It offers the same sugary sweetness we’ve grown to know and love in our pumpkin spice, and we’ve been pouring it on our pancakes forever. I, for one, welcome our new maple overlords.