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CCSS: 6.SP.B.5, 7.SP.A.2, MP1, MP3, MP5

TEKS: 6.12C, 6.12D, 7.6G, 7.12B

It’s Pumpkin Spice Season!

Love it or hate it, pumpkin spice-flavored products start flooding store shelves every fall. The iconic Starbucks latte was invented in 2003 and makes more than $500 million every year—but it doesn’t end there. Pumpkin spice is everywhere: in cookies, candles, household cleansers, and more. There’s even pumpkin-spiced SPAM! The number of pumpkin spice-flavored products has grown by more than 80 percent since 2011. But what makes the combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves so popular?

“When you eat or drink something, your mind takes you back to the last time you had that flavor,” says food scientist Kantha Shelke. If you’ve had pumpkin pie at a happy time with your family, every time you taste pumpkin spice, you’ll be reminded of that time. “It’s really our brain, not our tongue or our nose, that tells us what a flavor is,” she adds.

But the spices play an important role too! “Something about the way cinnamon, ginger, and cloves combine creates a sense of satisfaction that is unique,” Shelke says. Some cultures in the Middle East and India use variations of the spice mix in their cooking too—they just don’t call it pumpkin spice!

People have been using “pumpkin spice” since ancient times, explains Shelke. “Residues of the spice mix have been found on ceramic pottery shards estimated to be 3,500 years old in one of the Banda Islands in Indonesia.”

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Jim McMahon/Mapman ® (Map); Nancy DeGennaro/DNJ, Murfreesboro Daily News Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC (Starbucks); (All Other Images)

Answer the following questions using the information in the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

What percent of pumpkin pie spice is made of ginger?

A. 9%

B. 13%

C. 18%

D. 56%

Which pumpkin pie spice accounts for $128 million in holiday spice sales?

A. ginger

B. cinnamon

C. nutmeg

D. allspice

What is the lowest-selling type of pumpkin pie spice?

A. ginger

B. cinnamon

C. nutmeg

D. allspice

In what year did the search term “Pumpkin Spice Latte” first exceed a ranking of 50?

A. 2012

B. 2013

C. 2014

D. 2015

Which country produces approximately the same amount of cinnamon as China?

A. India

B. Vietnam

C. Guatemala

D. Indonesia

What percent of pumpkin pie spices from Indonesia are cloves?

A. 10%

B. 34%

C. 51%

D. 63%

Describe the trend in search term popularity of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte since 2009.

A pumpkin pie recipe requires 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. How much of each spice is used in the recipe?

What other type of graph could you use to display the information in the infographic “Pumpkin Spice Production”?

Poll your class on whether they like pumpkin spice-flavored products. (Visit for a poll template.) Then make a circle graph of the results.

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