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Starbucks Unleashes Pumpkin Spice Latte on Vietnam for the First Time

Frequently mocked as an essential item alongside Ugg boots, yoga pants, scented candles and gender reveal parties in a "basic" starter pack, the popular fall beverage has arrived in Vietnamese Starbucks for the first time.

In a straightforward Facebook post today, the global coffee giant announced the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, alongside Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew at Vietnamese locations. Described by critics as "an unctuous, pungent, saccharine brown liquid, equal parts dairy and diabetes, served in paper cups and guzzled down by the liter," and simply called PSL by fans, the divisive drink has long served as an icon of the current cultural zeitgeist.

Concocted to conjure an illusory sense of American autumn filled with falling leaves, high school football games, knit sweaters and apple picking, the pumpkin spice latte's recipe is a hodgepodge of ingredients including milk, pumpkin spice sauce, pumpkin puree and a laundry list of other organic and inorganic items.

Outside of the context of North American fall, pumpkin pies served on Thanksgiving, or harvesting pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, the drink seems woefully out of place in steamy Saigon, even though initial Vietnamese reactions to the anouncement have been generally positive. "This tastes like thập cẩm savory mooncakes," a comment by a local Facebook user, has to be our favorite of the bunch.

Video via Last Week Tonight.

Since its 2003 release, pumpkin spice lattes have helped usher in a wave of pumpkin-flavored items including dog biscuits, hummus, yogurt, energy bars, potato chips, and even Spam. Starbucks and the many other coffee chains that have begun offering their own versions have been releasing it earlier and earlier, leading many to decry it as "agricultural revisionism," because pumpkins are not actually in season until the middle of fall.

Similarly, pumpkin spice — a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and cloves — didn't actually contain pumpkins when it came out, though Starbucks has modified the recipe to include the orange gourd in recent years.

Despite these complaints, there is no denying pumpkin spice latte's popularity. Since the Starbucks product development team first "brought in kitschy fall decorations and pumpkin pies, and began to explore ideas for a pumpkin-inspired espresso beverage," the chain has sold more than 424 million cups of it around the world. Supporters are so fond of it as to warrant an official pumpkin spice latte Twitter account with over 100,000 followers. 

[Photo via Flickr user Push Doctor]

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