Starbucks adds pumpkin to Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Starbucks and Panera promote reformulate popular drinks to win fans

The pumpkin spice latte battle is heating up just in time for fall.

Starbucks and Panera are hyping reformulated versions of the popular drinks in a fight to win over fans of the beverage in coming weeks.

Starbucks Corp. said Monday its version of the concoction this year will be made with real pumpkin, and without caramel coloring. The change comes after blogger Vani Hari, known as the Food Babe, criticized Starbucks last year for the drink's ingredients and its lack of transparency around the issue.

Panera meanwhile, also said its pumpkin spice latte this year will be made "entirely without artificial colours, flavours, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup.''

The popularity of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks has made it common offering on menus at other chains during the fall.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has called the pumpkin spice latte the company's "most popular seasonal beverage ever.'' In late 2013, he said sales of the drink were as strong as ever "despite the proliferation of knockoffs and copycats.''

In Seattle, Melissa Lane, who says she loves Pumpkin Spice lattes but isn't a big Starbucks fan, said Monday that she would be more likely to buy one of the "That sounds awesome,'' Lane said. "I prefer less ingredients and more natural stuff.''

Not everybody was sold on the idea of pumpkin-flavoured caffeine drinks.

Beth Alley, who was enjoying iced tea with a friend outside a Seattle Starbucks, said she's never had a pumpkin spice latte.

When asked what she thought of the idea of pumpkin flavours in caffeine drinks, she said, "I probably wouldn't have one anyway.''

Panera plans to offer samples Tuesday in Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered. The sampling will be across the street from the first Starbucks location by Pike Place market, according to a Panera representative.

Panera Bread Co. says its version of the drink also has real pumpkin and will be sold in its stores starting Sept. 9. Starbucks has not yet said when its drink will be available. The company even has a Twitter account set up for the drink, which has more than 82,000 followers.

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