“They created a narrative story around the PSL that strongly associates it with autumn — that once pumpkin spice is out it means fall is here.” Roux notes that, ironically, for the past two years the drink has actually been launched in August.
To many, the PSL has also managed to embody much more than a mix of caffeine and pie spices. The drink stars in a myriad of social media memes, many of which play on a concept pop culture currently defines as “basic”: a suburbanite, yoga-pant-wearing woman who champions all things mainstream.
“It's interesting that the PSL fits into this new trend of being basic or norm-core, where nowadays being uncool is cool,” says Roux. “Pumpkin spice is almost uncool. It's too sugary, too sweet, too marketed, but everybody has to have it.”
Starbucks plays this up on social media. The PSL is an active presence online and has its own Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter accounts. With more than 114,000 followers, @TheRealPSL features a Ray-Ban-wearing latte that tweets on behalf of the company as if it were a celebrity.