Why Americans spend $500 million a year on pumpkin spice

STORY: “I just like the whole vibe and aesthetic of pumpkins. I think with Fall, a pumpkin is part of Fall.”

From Halloween decorations - to pumpkin spice lattes - pumpkins seem to hold a special place in the hearts of Americans.

So much so that they're spending half a billion dollars on pumpkin spice products every year - according to Nielsen data.

“It’s part of a tradition, it’s included in movies. Pumpkins also created a nice culture with pumpkin spice donuts, drinks, everything. Soaps, bars, everything, I appreciate it.”

Starbucks alone reportedly sells 20 million pumpkin spice lattes annually.

The coffee giant says it had its best sales week of all time when it reintroduced the drink on August 30th.

Hefty's has introduced pumpkin-scented trash bags - that have already sold out.

But what is it that drives this infatuation with pumpkins every Fall?

Cindy Ott, the author of 'Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon' has an idea.

“There’s no practical reason to put pumpkin in your cup of coffee, to put it on your front stoop, to sweeten it and put it in your pie. But those modern-day traditions actually date back to much older traditions of associating the pumpkin with a small family farm. The idyllic kind of small family farm in American life.”

Ott says she used sources like century-old songs, paintings and cookbooks to trace America's love for pumpkins - all the way back to the nation's early days.

“Toiling in the soil, working the earth has been a sign of moral virtue and creating good citizens and these kinds of old ideals...It’s those kinds of ideals that the pumpkin can carry.”