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How pumpkin spice flavor was created in a lab

Madeline Muzzi

Madeline Muzzi

Pumpkin spice is misunderstood; it was never supposed to taste like pumpkins. Instead, this flavor mimics the spices that are used in pumpkin pie.

Madeline Muzzi

Pumpkin spice flavor is a combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and sometimes ginger. The flavoring used in pumpkin spice products isn't just a blend of those spices.

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Making this flavor isn't as simple as sprinkling nutmeg on a coffee. Dried spices are raw and aren't very water soluble. They're also not as powerful as flavoring agents.

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True pumpkin spice flavor is designed by flavor chemists, trained scientists who work with a range of extracts to create each flavor.

Madeline Muzzi

Flavors have a range. Cinnamon can be spicy and intense like a stick of Big Red gum, or soft and sweet like an apple pie. Flavor chemists can have dozens of versions of each spice. Creating a blended flavor takes lots of calibration.

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Flavorists work with oils, extracts, and oleo-resin extracts to get the just the right note.

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Of course, flavor isn't all about taste. When you inhale a scent, you’re stimulating your olfactory bulb. This tiny neural structure on the bottom front of your brain connects with the limbic lobe of the cerebral cortex.

Madeline Muzzi

If you’ve heard that scent is one of the strongest senses tied to memory, this is why. The limbic lobe is involved with emotion and memory.

Madeline Muzzi

These memories play a role in flavor perception and preference. If you grew up eating pumpkin pie, you're more likely to enjoy pumpkin spice flavors.

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