It’s that time of year: Pumpkin mania is back and sweeping the C-store scene.

Summer isn’t officially over until later this month, but evidence of autumn is everywhere. The days are getting shorter. There’s a crispness in the air. Kids are back in school. A certain writer at SSCS is handing out colorful mini-gourds to anyone that will have them. (In fact, I think one of our programmers cherishes them so much he still has his from last year. Gourds, it seems, have a long shelf life.)

Anyway, all those seasonal signs pale in significance to one other: the fact that pumpkin mania has begun to sweep the food and beverage industry. It’s one of our favorite things about autumn and, of course, C-stores are right in the thick of it.

From what we can see, pumpkin season starts immediately after Labor Day and doesn’t let up until after Thanksgiving. If you follow a robust variety of C-stores and C-store-related businesses on your Twitter feed like we do, you’ll be amazed by the dazzling variety of pumpkin-related products our industry makes available to the consumer. These offerings are practical, too: they’re promotions that create visibility in hotly contested markets, especially when they are presented in an attractive, professional (and dare we say, mouth-watering) manner. Here are some noteworthy ones:

  • Wawa offers an amazing variety of pumpkin-flavored beverages, including lattes and smoothies. We have to admit, they look quite tempting.
  • Sheetz stores embraces the season with its own unique celebration called Pumpkinpalooza. The pumpkin treats they offer are impressive in their variety.
  • Stewarts Shops is famous for their ice cream, but this is the time of year they break out their limited edition pumpkin pie ice cream, complete with graham cracker crust. If it were practical to ship ice cream, you can bet we’d be ordering up right now.
  • And though purists may scoff, the number of pumpkin-flavored ales, many of which are available at your neighborhood C-store, has flourished and shows no sign of waning.
  • If none of those products strike your fancy, well, you can satiate your craving for a pumpkin pie Pop Tart!

Yes, autumn is just beginning, and we suspect this will be far from our last seasonal post, but in the meantime, light a fire, curl up on the couch, take a sip of your favorite pumpkin-flavored beverage and chow down on your favorite pumpkin-flavored food. We won’t tell anyone if you happen to favor pumpkin-flavored potato crisps. For a limited time only, of course.