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Pumpkin Spice is Still Nice in 2022, Study Finds

Just in time for National Pumpkin Spice Day on Oct. 1, new research shows that pumpkin spice is as popular as ever on social media

Posted in: Communication and Media, Graduate School, Research, University

Photo showing an arrangement of fall items including pumpkin, leaves, cinnamon sticks

Feeling pumpkin spice fatigue this fall season? It’s not going away any time soon.

New research from the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication at Montclair State University found that, despite what the skeptics say, Americans still really love pumpkin spice and can’t get enough of pumpkin spice foods, beverages and products.

See the 2022 Pumpkin Spice Report

Combing through nearly 20,000 Twitter and Instagram posts from September 2022, the Montclair team of faculty and graduate student researchers discovered that 55% of posts containing “pumpkin spice” or the hashtag #pumpkinspice were positive in nature, 8% were negative and 37% were deemed neutral.

There’s no sign of the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) love dying down, either. In fact, according to Google Trends, the popular fall flavor is on pace to create more internet activity this year than ever before. The buzz around pumpkin spice initially peaked in 2017-18 and fell slightly as a trend in the following years. But current data suggests that this year is on pace to far surpass the 2017-18 peak, meaning the seasonal star is back. Big time.

“The power of pumpkin and pumpkin spice are clear in the data,” said Jin-A Choi, assistant professor of Advertising at Montclair. “While many assume the topic is polarizing, the majority of the social media data we analyzed showed that America and a wide range of companies continue to want more pumpkin spice.”

The trending topic has also prompted brands and businesses unrelated to the fall flavor to use the #pumpkinspice hashtag to sell or drive interest in their products – a phenomenon known as “trendjacking.” The upside? About 2% of evaluated trendjacking posts were linked to social causes, such as dog adoption shelters.

Fun Facts About Pumpkin Spice

  • Merriam Webster added “pumpkin spice” to its list of new dictionary entries (Definition: “A mixture of usually cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice that is commonly used in pumpkin pie.”)
  • National Pumpkin Spice Day 2022 is on Sat. Oct. 1
  • Starbucks and Dunkin’ aren’t the only brands most frequently associated with pumpkin spice – Etsy, eBay, Amazon and other e-commerce shops selling pumpkin spice earrings, dog bandannas, candles and more are frequently associated and linked to searches for pumpkin spice.

This is the first study released from the Center for Strategic Communication, located within the School of Communication and Media. The Center provides social media analytics tools and training for faculty and students for classroom learning and research projects.

Faculty researchers will present their findings in the Center (Room 1011 in the School of Communication and Media building), on Sept. 29 from Noon to 1 p.m., where they will celebrate the release of the study with pumpkin spice-themed food and refreshments in honor of National Pumpkin Spice Day.