Pumpkin Spice Latte sure has a lot of friends.
Fans have purchased over 200 million of the handcrafted beverages since Starbucks introduced PSL in 2003. The signature espresso and steamed milk latte features the unmistakable spices of fall – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove – and is finished with whipped cream and pumpkin spice topping.
The seasonal favorite has also gained over 56,000 Twitter followers through the new social media account @theRealPSL on Twitter.
An orange-sunglasses-wearing latte introduced itself on Twitter August 4, 2014:
I’m the real Pumpkin Spice Latte. These are my tweets.
Since then, PSL has been preparing to return from vacation:
Get ready to “fall” in love all over again. #seewhatididthere
PSL hinted there will be an opportunity to enjoy the beverage before its usual return in the first week of September.
Let’s say “hypothetically speaking” there’s a way to spot me on the menu early… #whatwouldyoudo
Hobbies include: knitting, reading, cooking, unveiling clues to the world about how to get #PSL before everyone else, and watching movies.
Wednesday (8/20), the official Twitter account for Pumpkin Spice Latte announced a “Spot the Spice” challenge to give the beverage’s biggest fans an opportunity to bring PSL to their stores early.
My #spotthespice game kicks off Aug. 21st. Play along & get #PSL on the menu early this year!
@TheRealPSL will tweet a daily clue beginning Thursday, August 21 through Monday, August 25. Followers are encouraged to work through the game challenges with the help of the PSL community.
A Tumblr game board will also keep track of the hints as they are solved. Late on the afternoon of August 25, after the final challenge has been completed, PSL fans will gain access to a special password. On Tuesday morning, August 26, customers who show the PSL password (or say it) to a barista in their local Starbucks store will “unlock” the beverage early, making the seasonal latte available to everyone who visits the store.
The first customer who unlocks a store will be acknowledged by having his or her name displayed on an in-store sign. Fans may unlock as many stores as they’d like.
This year’s “Spot the Spice” game marks the fourth year of involving Pumpkin Spice Latte enthusiasts in the early release of the beverage. Last year, in honor of PSL’s 10th birthday, loyal PSL fans were given a secret code to purchase the beverage a week early.
In 2011 and 2012, Starbucks digital marketing team launched a Facebook game inviting customers to earn points for their communities to determine which cities would earn PSL a week earlier than the rest of the nation. Chicago won in 2011 and Leavenworth, Washington – a town with only one Starbucks store – earned the honor two years ago.
“We absolutely love engaging with our PSL fans and offering them a unique experience this time of year,” said Wheeler, whose social media team tracks thousands of tweets per day once the beverage returns. “We hope our super fans have fun collaborating together on the Spot the Spice challenges and enjoy unlocking all of our stores early!”