Starbucks' Fan-Favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte Almost Had a Different Name, Creator Says

Peter Dukes created Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte back in 2003

<p>Starbucks</p> Peter Dukes, Pumpkin Spice Latte


Peter Dukes, Pumpkin Spice Latte

Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte almost had a different name, according to the fan-favorite beverage's creator.

In a press release shared with PEOPLE to honor Starbucks celebrating the 20th anniversary since it launched its Pumpkin Spice Latte, creator Peter Dukes detailed how the seasonal drink came to be, and shared another name that it almost took on.

Following the success of the Peppermint Mocha drink, which was released the winter prior and marked Starbucks' first hit seasonal beverage, Dukes was leading the Starbucks Espresso product team at the time, and together they knew they wanted another hit for the fall.

“We started with a huge brainstorm list and filled the wall with ideas,” Dukes said, per the release. “We probably had at least a hundred ideas up on the wall."

"And once we got those ideas, we started to whittle away at them and came down to a list of about 20 different flavors, including chocolate and caramel — the most popular flavors to pair with coffee — and there was orange and cinnamon ... and there was pumpkin there as well," he added.

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After having customers answer which flavors they were likely to purchase in a survey, Dukes and his team found that chocolate and caramel beverages were at the top of the list, but pumpkin ranked high on "uniqueness," according to the release.

Starting in spring 2003, the group gathered in Starbucks' “Liquid Lab,” which is "a secure research and development space on the 7th floor of Starbucks headquarters in Seattle," per the release.

After working hard for three months, the team came up with the drink's recipe — espresso, pumpkin spice sauce and steamed milk topped off with whipped cream and a dash of pumpkin pie topping — but still needed to find a name suitable for the beverage.

“There was a desire to choose a really unique name, such as the fall harvest latte,” Dukes said. “We ultimately ended up landing on Pumpkin Spice Latte because the spices play a really important role in bringing out the flavors of pumpkin, while also highlighting the espresso in the cup.”

<p>Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty</p> Starbucks Store

Michelle Gustafson/Bloomberg via Getty

Starbucks Store

Related: Starbucks Has BOGO Pumpkin Spice Lattes (and Other Fall Drinks!) All September

By that fall, Starbucks released the drink as a test to about 100 stores in Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, Canada.

“Within the first week of the market test, we knew we had a winner,” Dukes stated, per the release. “I remember calling store managers on the phone to see how the new beverage was doing, and we could hear the excitement in their voices.”

By fall 2004, the Pumpkin Spice Latte rolled out in the United States and Canada. But, despite it's success, Starbucks toyed around with the idea of discontinuing the drink at one point.

“We launched PSL very well, but then there were discussions about discontinuing it,” Dukes explained. “There was this idea back then of, ‘Hey, we want to keep things new, keep things fresh.’ And fortunately, we kept bringing it back. With the arrival of social media, it just took off on a whole new level.”

“Nobody knew at the beginning what it would grow to be,” Dukes — who now works with Starbucks' Market Strategy team within Store Development — added. "20 years later, it’s taken on a life of its own.”

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