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A chat with @TheRealPSL, Twitter’s dark genius of pumpkin spice
Your favorite seasonal Starbucks beverage is killing it on Twitter.
It’s not every day you get to sit down with your idol.
Journalists and coffee are like, well, journalists and coffee. There’s no better analogy of a love that borders on addiction. After all, that’s why journalists consume more coffee than any other profession.
When I found out the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte was on Twitter and Tumblr, I knew it wasn’t enough to simply report on the seasonal sensation. I had to go to the source. And that’s how I ended up talking to a pumpkin spice latte. Or PSL, to friends.
“I answer to both, but really, whatever’s easiest for you,” Pumpkin Spice Latte told the Daily Dot. “PSL is easier to write. And hashtag.”
I need my morning coffee. Sike! I AM my morning coffee. 🍂☕🍂
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) August 12, 2014
Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, or @TheRealPSL, is just about the funniest thing to happen to coffee since Starbucks tried to make a beer-flavored drink that wasn’t beer. The “official Twitter account for fall’s official beverage” has been stirring things up on social media for the past couple of months. The coffee cup shares selfies and store discounts for its thousands of followers. And if you send it a tweet, there’s a good chance PSL will tweet you back.
“It boils [or steams] down to this, it makes my day to be able to make so many people happy, both in person and on Twitter,” Pumpkin Spice Latte said. “And I love that my publicists encourage me to connect with my fans between visits.”
You read that right. A cup of pumpkin spice latte has a publicist.
PSL joined Twitter around August to start an online challenge called #spotthespice, where fans could win a chance to order a pumpkin spice latte before it was officially brought back to stores. Since then, the self-described part-time employee has been on fire: starting feuds with the salted caramel mocha, sporting a homecoming tuxedo, and enjoying a tasty cup of, well, itself. I asked PSL if that counts as cannibalism.
“Let’s not overthink it,” PSL replied. “It’s delicious.”
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) October 11, 2014
Pumpkin Spice Latte also has a pumpkin cat, named Ginger. It takes adorable selfies.
“She gets into mischief with yarn and leaves, and all my favorite fall accessories, and it’s just the cutest!” PSL said. “She’s just a kitten, but she’s also decorative and made of plastic, so she could theoretically be with me for a few centuries.”
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) October 6, 2014
It’s no surprise that PSL has become a social media enigma, considering the pumpkin spice latte is now a seasonal staple. The beverage, which was originally going to be called “Fall Harvest Latte,” has exploded since it was first developed in 2003. According to Starbucks, more than 200 million have been sold in the past decade.
“Pumpkin Spice Latte has become more than just a beverage,” Peter Dukes, who was the PSL project manager, said in a news release. “It has become a harbinger of the season.”
Every time you drink a #PSL, a pumpkin gets one of those cool curly stems.
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) September 4, 2014
The hashtag #PSL has also become part of the experience. According to Starbucks, it’s shared more than 3,000 times per day. Many of those are tweeted by none other than @TheRealPSL itself. PSL told the Daily Dot that it will stay active on Twitter for a couple more months, then probably take a break, adding that “even a latte needs a vacay.”
However, PSL said it will definitely return next fall.
— Pumpkin Spice Latte (@TheRealPSL) October 15, 2014
Photo via Denise Mattox/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Beth Elderkin is a geek culture reporter and the former co-host/producer of Channel Awesome’s ‘Shark Jumping.’In July 2016, Elderkin joined Gizmodo Media Group as a weekend editor and staff writer for io9.