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Dunkin’ Donuts Brings Out Its Fall Flavors Early

The pumpkin-spiced latte and other pumpkin-related seasonal additions have become standard fall menu fare at coffee chains including Dunkin’ Donuts (NASDAQ: DNKN) and Panera Bread.

One of the more popular promotions of the year, those pumpkin-spice-flavored drinks lure consumers into stores. That gives the chains a boost heading into the holiday season, which can spur gift card sales, and generally drive revenue as people loosen up their purse strings to sample these well-liked, limited-availability offerings.

Now, Dunkin’ Donuts has gotten a head start on its rivals by bringing back its fall menu, along with some new additions, before August ends.

What is Dunkin’ doing?

If a fall menu works in fall, why not bring it out during the summer?

The chain has already begun rolling out pumpkin-flavored coffees, doughnuts, Munchkins, and muffins in its New York stores, and it plans to have them in all its location nationwide by Aug. 29.

“Dunkin’ Donuts’ entire autumn array offers one of the largest varieties of pumpkin choices of any national restaurant chain, available all day long,” the company wrote in a press release. “Guests can savor the season with Dunkin’ Donuts’ delicious pumpkin flavored coffee and lattes, served hot or iced.”

The company also plans to offer a pumpkin macchiato, an espresso beverage made with steamed milk and pumpkin-spice flavored swirl, topped with a two shots of espresso. In addition, it also has a non-pumpkin seasonal offering on tap; it’s rolling out salted caramel flavored coffee, lattes, and macchiatos to all its stores.

Is this too much of a good thing?

People love pumpkin-spice-flavored beverages, which has been good for sales the chains the offer them. By launching its menu early, Dunkin’ Donuts may get an edge on its competition, but it may also be putting flavors out before consumers are looking for them.

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Pumpkin spice has traditionally been a fall flavor, and even in the Northeast, where the chain is headquartered, late August cannot be considered fall. It’s hard to know if this move will lead to more sales for Dunkin’ or if the arrival of these seasonal tastes will be largely ignored by consumers until the leaves start to turn and Thanksgiving planning begins.

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Daniel Kline has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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