When people hear that the return of the “PSL” is coming, they probably envision the drink in the hands of someone wearing a North Face jacket and leggings with Uggs, tweeting about their favorite drink.
There are countless memes, articles and jokes that mock the “basic-ness” of the pumpkin spice latte lover. Just last week, Martha Stewart, queen of everything related to food or home, confirmed on “Watch What Happens Live” that PSLs are only for basic bitches.
But when did loving Starbucks, and PSLs specifically, mean you were “basic?”
Starbucks introduced the PSL in 2003 and it was an instant hit, according to Business Insider. But the first time that basic-ness became synonymous with Starbs and white girl stereotypes seems to start around 2012.
Around the 10-year anniversary of PSLs in 2013, it appears the connection became even more apparent on the internet:
The association continued to pick up steam from there and seems to have permeated the collective consciousness by 2014:
From Bustle, Sept. 11, 2014:
From MTV, Sept. 14, 2014:
From Bustle, Sept. 15, 2014:
From HuffPost, Oct. 11, 2014:
“THIS is the drink of the most basic of basic bitches,” Total Sorority Girl declared in Oct. 2014. “Devout PSL drinkers are getting their orders from some kind of hive-mind.”
“The spice made popular by Seattle-based coffee chain Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte — or as it is called on the street, ‘PSL’ — has become a staple of fall, and of basic white women across the U.S., privileged areas of the U.K., and other westernized yacht ports of Europe,” a comedy piece from HuffPost declared in Oct. 2014 as well.
“Now that everyone has deemed the pumpkin spice latte ‘basic,’ Starbucks decided to come up with a holiday drink that’s a little more ~*uNiQuE*~ for the world to enjoy this winter,” Cosmo wrote in Oct. 2014. “Enter: the chestnut praline latte, which officially hits Starbucks stores November 12.”
Of course, people also began defending their basic bitch-ness and love of PSLs:
But by Sept. 2016, being labeled as “basic” became a problem that Starbucks wanted to fix.
But how did Starbucks’ PSL go from beloved to basic to bad?
It could have a lot to do with PSLs becoming oversaturated on social media. As more people started using Snapchat and Instagram during 2012 and 2013, PSLs were suddenly everywhere online, on your phone and in your face.
An article from Delish also offers up another theory:
“The Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte has, with countdowns to its release, an official Twitter account and a 10-year anniversary campaign in 2013 that played into what may be Starbucks’ greatest skill: Using its ‘third place’ concept, where a coffee shop isn’t just where you grab a quick caffeine boost but a hangout between work and home, so grabbing a PSL became tied to hanging out with friends, enjoying the season — and reaching a point of ubiquity that it became skewered as the signature drink of choice for a ‘Basic B*tch,’ AKA a girl who likes all of the most universally likable things.
Who knows, maybe in 2018 PSLs will reach the point of post-basic-ness we’ve all been waiting for.