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This Fall, Chains Are Trying to Make Apple Stuff Happen

Starbucks and Dunkin’ are introducing apple drinks alongside the usual glut of pumpkin spice everything

A plastic cup with a white and brown layered starbucks drink in the background. In the foreground, a manicured hand holding a spatula with a slice of crisp
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

The pumpkin spice flavor wars have been raging for almost 20 years now. Does it suck? If you think it sucks, are you an elitist snob? Is it an identity? Does it have any business in things like salsa or deodorant? In 2019, Eater decided to accept the reality of pumpkin spice. There was no use having an opinion on something so omnipresent. It’s like having hard thoughts on whether or not socks should exist. But now, trying to create new trends, coffee chains want to make apple happen.

“Many feel that pumpkin spice ‘jumped the shark’ so to speak because there is a saturation of pumpkin spice everything,” Kim McLynn of the NPD Group, a market research company, told Insider. So this year Dunkin’ and Starbucks are introducing apple-flavored drinks. Starting today, Starbucks will be serving an apple crisp macchiato, “made with apple and brown sugar flavors and topped with a caramelized apple drizzle, made with apple puree.” The drink can be had either hot or iced. According to one Eater staffer who tried the hot version, it’s like “drinking a candied apple,” and the “apple juice concentrate is very prominent.”

Dunkin’, meanwhile, will make an apple cranberry refresher and an apple cranberry coconut refresher, the latter of which is too many things. They’ll also bring back the apple cider donut, but just so we’re on the same page, the new drinks are essentially apple juice, right? You’re drinking apple juice, which is fine, but you should just know that! Also, one of them is purple for some reason, despite neither apple, cranberry, nor coconut being in the slightest bit purple.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ have both experimented with other “fall” flavors before, like maple pecan, brown sugar, and vanilla spice, to make sure they have something for those who can’t stand pumpkin spice. But let’s be real — pumpkin spice is here to stay. Every year someone says pumpkin spice has “jumped the shark” and every year it returns earlier and earlier to much fanfare and obsession. Apple is nice too, but if you think this means the end of pumpkin spice, sorry! At least it’s not the worst thing to accept about reality now.