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2014-10-08    来源:Fortune    【      美国外教 在线口语培训



Pumpkin spice is a lot like Halloween candy. Both are harbingers of fall, and both seem to push the appropriate seasonal boundaries by popping up earlier and earlier every year.

But unlike other food fads—two well-documented examples are cronuts and cake pops—pumpkin spice has endured. This is the 11th year that the Pumpkin Spice Latte (the PSL, in the parlance of aficionados) has graced the menu at Starbucks . With more than 200 million PSLs sold, it’s the company’s most popular seasonal beverage. Rival coffee purveyor Dunkin’ Donuts has more than a half dozen pumpkin-flavored items on the menu this year. The company says it spends time strategizing how it can ramp up the “pumpkin-osity” of its offerings.
不过与其他的饮食风尚不同——典型的例子如可颂甜甜圈和棒棒糖蛋糕——南瓜风味食品的热度十分持久。星巴克(Starbucks)推出南瓜拿铁(Pumpkin Spice Latte,被狂热的爱好者称为PSL)至今已有11年,该产品已经售出超过200万份,是该公司最为流行的季节性饮料。星巴克的竞争对手,咖啡供应商唐恩都乐(Dunkin’ Donuts)也在今年推出了超过6款南瓜风味咖啡。唐恩都乐表示,他们花了不少时间来研究如何提高产品的“南瓜特色”。

As most consumers are well aware, we are not speaking merely of coffee. Just about anything that can have a pumpkin variety now does, or soon will: Oreos, Milano cookies, M&Ms, yogurt, marshmallows, gum, oatmeal, Eggo waffles. There was even buzz last week, which turned out to be a hoax, about a pumpkin spice condom. The fact that this fake news gained so much traction is a sign of how sexy the subject has become.

Or perhaps it was an ironic commentary on the ubiquity of a once-humble member of the squash and melon family. Indeed, some have begun to complain of pumpkin spice fatigue (let’s call it PSF) out of one side of their mouths—but data on eating habits suggest they’re still sipping PSLs out of the other. Since 2006, industry tracker Mintel has found that pumpkin as a beverage ingredient has grown 130% on U.S. menus. Since 2004 the use of pumpkin as a flavor in food on menus has increased ten-fold.

So what’s driving the flavor to these new heights? Fortune decided to investigate the consumer psychology behind pumpkin spice.

Both Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts executives point to the seasonality and nostalgia evoked by the flavor. “It’s a beverage that captures the essence of fall,” says Peter Dukes, who led the PSL’s development as a Starbucks product manager. His colleague Cliff Burrows, group president of the U.S., Americas, and Teavana, thinks its success is linked to the combination of the return to school after the long summer holiday and the closure of the season with Labor Day. “There’s something about that whole turning point, which is so significant,” he says. “It’s a nice way to turn the corner on the year.”

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t really explain why pumpkin spice outperforms other seasonal flavors. Starbucks’ eggnog latte and peppermint mocha both predate the PSL but haven’t entered the zeitgeist to nearly the same extent. Before landing on the PSL, Dukes said that Starbucks also considered a cinnamon streusel latte, a flavor that seems unlikely to have garnered as much attention or traction.

One reason pumpkin spice may be so popular is that it taps into a paradox of human desire: We like new things, but we also want things we know we’ll like, explains Harry Balzer of consumer market research company NPD Group. Balzer says that pumpkin pie is the second most-consumed pie in America (apple is No. 1), which is astonishing considering it’s essentially eaten only one day a year. That gives us the illusion that we’re eating a new flavor, and helps explain why Dunkin’ and Starbucks likely won’t ever offer pumpkin year round. Doing so would erode its mystique.
消费者市场研究公司NPD Group的专家哈利•巴尔泽解释道,南瓜风味之所以大行其道,一个可能的原因是它抓住了人类的矛盾心理:我们喜欢新事物,但我们也想要一些我们知道自己会喜欢的事物。巴尔泽表示,南瓜派是美国消费量第二大的派(第一是苹果派),这是个很让人吃惊的结果,因为实际上,人们每年中只有一天会吃它。它给了我们一种错觉,让我们觉得自己在尝试一种新风味。这也能解释为何唐恩都乐和星巴克绝不会全年供应南瓜风味产品,因为这样一来它的神秘性就会消失。

Alan Hirsch, founder and director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, thinks that there might be something physical going on. Hirsch, whose findings and research are not without controversy, has done work with Dunkin’ Donuts and sister brand Baskin-Robbins although not involving pumpkin. In one of his studies, he looked at the effects of 30 different scents on the sexual arousal of 31 male volunteers (yes, you read that correctly). He found that the scent causing the highest level of arousal was a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie. Doughnut and black licorice came in second, and the combination of doughnut and pumpkin pie came in third. Ironically, cranberry, the other big marker of Thanksgiving, came in last.
芝加哥嗅觉与味觉治疗研究基金会(Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation)创始人兼主管艾伦•赫希认为,其中可能也有一些身体因素在起作用。赫希与唐恩都乐及其姊妹品牌芭斯罗缤冰淇淋(Baskin-Robbins)合作过一些与南瓜无关的研究,不过他们得出的结论并非毫无争议。在一项研究中,他观察了30种不同气味对31位男性志愿者造成的性唤起现象(对,你没看错)。他发现能够引发最强烈性冲动的气味是薰衣草和南瓜派的混合味道。甜甜圈和黑甘草糖的混合味道排名第二,甜甜圈和南瓜派的混合味道排名第三。颇具讽刺意味的是,感恩节中另一项重要食物蔓越莓排名垫底。

One of Hirsch’s hypotheses is that in our current culture, in which there’s been a loss of traditions, people are seeking out forms of comfort and security that they had as children. The smell of pumpkin spice brings them back to those moments. He also believes its ascent might stem from an aging society. As you grow older, you lose your sense of smell, but cinnamon, a major ingredient in pumpkin pie, is something that continues to cut through.

But part of pumpkin spice’s allure to consumer products companies is that it’s become a safe bet. “It’s a flavor line that’s appealing across all age groups,” says MaryAnne Drake, a professor of sensory analysis and flavor chemistry at North Carolina State University. “It transcends demographics.” Companies have caught on to the fact that Starbucks, a brand popular with millennials, has had major success with pumpkin spice, but the flavor is not too cutting edge that their parents won’t drink it. Drake notes that there’s been a push in food research to examine the role emotions play in what we eat. That has encouraged the proliferation of pumpkin spice offerings, since they evoke warm feelings.
不过南瓜风味对消费品公司的诱惑之一在于稳赚不赔。北卡罗莱纳州立大学(North Carolina State University)感官分析和食品风味化学专业的教授玛丽安娜•德雷克表示:“这是所有年龄段的人都喜欢的口味,轻松席卷各种人群。”各公司都注意到,风靡千禧一代的星巴克在南瓜风味上取得了很大的成功,而且这一风味也不会因过于前卫而导致他们的父母不爱喝。德雷克指出,食品研究领域正在探寻情感在我们进食时起到的作用。这也促进了南瓜风味产品的流行,因为它们会给人以温暖的感觉。

Pumpkin spice’s popularity might not have anything to do with, well, pumpkin, argues HedyKulka, senior flavorist with International Flavors & Fragrances. “I don’t know if it’s so much the pumpkin part,” says Kulka, who admits to preferring a Starbucks eggnog latte to the PSL. “If you sold pumpkin people wouldn’t want it. It’s the background note.” What’s driving pumpkin spice’s appeal is the inclusion of cinnamon and nutmeg—two spices that coffee shops have been putting out on counters for customers to use for years, she notes. “They’re so familiar to Americans,” she says. “Nobody is putting cardamom out there for you to use.”
不过,国际香料香精公司(International Flavors & Fragrances)高级香料师赫蒂•库尔卡表示,南瓜风味的流行也许与南瓜没什么关系。库尔卡承认自己喜欢蛋酒拿铁更甚于南瓜拿铁,并表示:“我不觉得南瓜起了多大作用。如果你是在卖南瓜,人们不会想买的。这只是个背景信息。”让南瓜风味具有吸引力的是肉桂和肉豆蔻——咖啡店多年以来就把这两种香料放在柜台前供顾客取用。她说:“美国人对它们十分熟悉。但现在,没有人会把小豆蔻放在那里让你用。”

There are two possible futures for pumpkin spice: a world in which we max out on the flavor and the bubble pops. Or it might become even more ubiquitous to the point where we don’t even think about it. “I see this as something that is not necessarily a novelty anymore,” says Kulka. Soon, pumpkin may become so common that it’s just like plain old vanilla.


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