Starbucks, Panera tout improved pumpkin spice lattes

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NEW YORK— Starbucks is changing the recipe of its very popular Pumpkin Spice Latte and … get this … it’s adding real pumpkin.

The swap is in response, at least in part, to customer demand, the company said Monday in a blog post.

“We have been trying to keep a lid on some big news for the beloved Pumpkin Spice Latte, but with recipes and ingredients starting to ship to our stores, the buzz is building,” Starbucks executive Peter Dukes wrote in a blog post.

There’s still no word yet on when the latte will be available. The drink — referred to as the “PSL” by the company and fans — is a seasonal offering. Last year, it was available beginning September 2.

Starbucks is also removing caramel coloring and “artificial flavors.”

For color, the new drink will add fruit and vegetable juices and continue to include annatto, a food coloring derived from seeds.

The nutrition facts will stay largely the same. The new recipe will add one gram of sugar to a small — or “Tall” — beverage, but it will still have 300 calories.

The PSL has been around since 2003, and a pumpkin-flavored craze has followed. Pumpkin sales have risen 34 percent in recent years. “Starbucks created a huge craze based on their pumpkin spiced latte,” Danelle Kosmal, vice president of research for alcoholic beverages at Nielsen, told CNNMoney last October.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has called the pumpkin spice latte the company’s “most popular seasonal beverage ever.” In 2013, he said sales were as strong “despite the proliferation of knockoffs and copycats.”