Starbucks gets PSL competition as Panera, Dunkin’ unveil new fall flavors

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May the best pumpkin spice lattes win.

Autumn is right around the corner and you know what that means: It’s PSL season.

But Starbucks has stiff competition this year as Dunkin’ and Panera are also releasing pumpkin-flavored treats and drinks.

Starbucks will launch its classic PSL as well as the returning pumpkin cream cold brew, pumpkin cream cheese muffin and pumpkin scone on Tuesday. The Seattle-based coffee chain first debuted its autumn coffee staple in 2003 and has set off a pumpkin frenzy ever since.

In a surprising twist, the icy pumpkin cream cold brew outsold its hot cousin, the PSL, in 2020. About 75% of Starbies’ third-quarter sales this year were from cold drinks alone, CNN reported. Last year’s pumpkin drink sales were also a “catalyst” in the company’s fourth-quarter results, as they wrestled with COVID-19 restrictions that harshly changed in-store dining.

While fall doesn’t technically start until Sept. 22, fast-food chains are rolling out their drinks early. Dunkin’ tried to get a leg up on S-Bux and announced its pumpkin cream cold brew and pumpkin spice signature latte drinks on Aug. 11. The company even added pumpkin and apple cider doughnuts and “Munchkin” holes to their eclectic and spicy mix.

Panera’s new cinnamon crunch latte hits the menu on Sept. 1.
Panera

Panera is joining the fall drink game this year with its new, seasonal cinnamon crunch latte, which will hit the menu on Sept. 1 for a limited time. “It’s time to upgrade your ‘basic’ tendencies and explore a new fall latte,” Panera said in a statement. “Because, let’s face it, cinnamon crunch trumps pumpkin.”

Dairy Queen is also coming in hot with its own take on the pumpkin spice craze. The ice cream giant will be re-introducing its pumpkin pie blizzard and pumpkin cookie butter shake on Aug. 30 for fans who want something cold and sweet to taste.

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