Topic of the Week: Favorite Holiday Drink In The US

November 23, 2021

Fiorella Riccobono

With the US holiday season upon us again, the newest Premise Topic of the Week is coming in hot… and best enjoyed in a large mug next to a fire.

This week, we asked Premise Contributors to tell us your favorite holiday drink.

After nearly 17,000 responses from Contributors residing across the U.S., the findings are in.

Here are three takeaways we learned from asking Americans about their favorite (non-alcoholic) holiday beverage in 2021.

Pumpkin Spice Latte is America’s Favorite Holiday Beverage

According to 16,941 responses, two drinks in our list tied for the title of favorite holiday beverage at 16% of the vote apiece: Eggnog Latte and the famous, maybe infamous, Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Coming in second and third were Peppermint Hot Chocolate and Hot Apple Cider — two traditional entries that, frankly, I thought were each capable of running away with it. 

Which type of beverage do you crave most during the holidays?

  1. TIE – Pumpkin Spice Latte & Eggnog Latte (16% each)
  2. Peppermint Hot Chocolate (15%)
  3. Hot Apple Cider (14%)
  4. I don’t like holiday drinks (14%)
  5. Peppermint Mocha (11%)
  6. Other (9%)
  7. Pumpkin Cold Brew (2%)
  8. Maple Oat Latte (2%)

The result is a resounding victory for Pumpkin Spice Latte, a drink whose online notoriety has made it a cultural bedrock in some circles — an emblem of everything cozy about the onset of fall and winter — while earning it derision elsewhere. As with everything these days, being highly divisive has done no disservice to the popularity of #PSL, as our Topic of the Week proves.

Basic or not, Pumpkin Spice Latte has demonstrated it is here to stay.

Lattes reign supreme

Joining Pumpkin Spice in the top spot is a fellow latte — the dark horse candidate Eggnog Latte — and adding 2% of the vote is the final latte, Maple Oat.

All together, lattes captured 36% of the vote. It’s a strong showing for a type of coffee drink not usually associated with cold weather so much as with upscale, cosmopolitan cafes. Which brings us to:

Starbucks owns holiday beverages

Perhaps the most striking result from our survey was about where people choose to get their holiday beverages from: overwhelmingly, it is from Starbucks.

The Seattle-based coffee juggernaut was voted the go-to source for holiday beverages by over one-third of our Contributor community and almost 70% more than the runner-up, Dunkin’. Third place was local coffee shops.

The data suggests that Starbucks, probably buoyed by the viral fame of Pumpkin Spice Latte, has a near-lock on the holiday beverage market.

Holiday beverage consumers splurge for better taste

According to our data, consumers choose holiday beverages based on one quality above all others: taste.

Not cost, not convenience, not even caffeine content. Taste.

These results suggest that holiday beverages occupy a unique place in the world of coffee. They’re not utilitarian; they’re indulgences.

This explains why the 390-calorie Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte endures in popularity despite having 78 times more calories than standard dark roast coffee. PSL fans are not after anything but taste — warm, autumnal sweetness that makes your taste buds feel like they’re wearing knit sweaters.

Next week’s #TOTW

If fall tastes are your thing, check out our upcoming survey about America’s favorite holiday pies, dropping December 6.

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