Ah, so there’s a deeper psychology to all this seasonal beverage stuff?
Ya know, a breezy fall day like this almost makes me want to get a pumpkin spiced latte. Almost. Out of pure spite, is it, that this overpriced drink doesn’t automatically become my vegan vice (do they make it with soy?) right here and now. Yes, because I’m still butthurt over their introduction of it so prematurely in August. And apparently I’m not the only one who noticed, because science stepped in recently with a little “yes-and” to my broody ruminations over a corporation’s capacity to be calendar dictators by deciding when the seasons’ll be. So why do they do it in August? And why do we love that shiz so much that we feed right into it the moment it hits their chalkboards, leaving naught but a foamy mustache in our wake?
They say the early onslaught of novelty lattes is exactly due to that:
The novelty factor.
Seeing how successful pumpkin spice lattes have been since their introduction, ‘bucks brings in the bucks by determining just how long “off season” should be and adhering to that. I haven’t stat-checked their history of releasing the caffeine kraken, but I’m pretty sure they keep edging it up a little each year – like my dog trying to see just how much misbehavior she can get away with before a reprimand arrives. And so far, so good (for them – not the two-year old who lives in my brain). People are luffin’ that shiz from the foamy top, right down to the sugary crap that aggregates inevitably at the bottom no matter how much you effing stir.
And those two points actually go hand in hand.
By determining just how long to make the aforementioned “off season”, you stand to maximize your income. You wouldn’t wanna make it a year round thing, because the novelty wears off for customers – and that’s the whole selling point. It’s the Gypsy Rose Lee rule of nom consumerism. Don’t give it all away all the time. Gotta have the “tada!” factor.
See, I just thought it was a “seasonal” thing – but science seems to show otherwise.
In fact, people apparently get less excited about the peppermint and gingerbread beverages, which are also seasonal. I’d that that’s because the latter latte sucks and the former also sucks unless it’s as a mocha. But I don’t think that’s why. I think it’s a combo of things. An example researchers have given is that spices like cinnamon stand out more (especially as we get old like me and the senses aren’t as acute anymore) and that there’s also a nostalgia aspect (reminds us of our childhood, Thanksgiving, and so on).
This makes sense. But I also think it’s because of the seasonal (like literal weather outside of the cafe) novelty that you don’t get as much in winter. Summer’s not as exciting as the onset of spring and likewise winter isn’t as exciting as the onset of fall. The main shift in temperature has already happened. So that “novelty” of warm to a sudden cool is welcome in that it’s comfortable and associated more with Thanksgiving, pumpkins, and spices. Cool to freezing is nothing to celebrate, and thus neither are the associations in the form of new syrupy drinks.
No matter how great they taste.
In fact, keep giving me the one that reminds me of foliage falling and the fiscal year.
(Smashing pumpkins anyone? Ahh? Ahhh?!)
I dunno if the gingerbread and peppermint goes up for grabs in autumn, but if they do, people are probably feeling the way they did seeing Pumpkin in summer: “Not yet!” Then, regardless of how it’s marketed, once Christmas comes around with its gingerbread and peppermint, we’re over the whole temp-change phenomena.
Plus, we’ve only got one more holiday with in-laws to “look forward” to, obligatory gifts we can’t afford, and a follow-up New Year’s we’ll either spend alone or wishing we were. Not novel enough to be mitigated by your big beverage glove-reveal. Also – it’s too goddamned cold to get outta my car for coffee come December.
I’ll drive-through and roll down my window just enough to toss in some ground Sumatra.
And then hibernate till spring.
Which is probably when you’ll be releasing Pumpkin spiced lattes next.