For me, as a ballet dancer, one thing above all signals that the holidays are here: not Black Friday, not the return of the red cups at Starbucks (but check out my previous blog about the pumpkin spice effect), not decorations or window displays, or even ugly sweaters, but rather the arrival of Nutcracker season.


But what business does The Nutcracker have on an economics blog? After all,  The Nutcracker is a story ballet based on E.T.A. Hoffman’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King and set to Tchaikovsky’s score. The ballet is a holiday tradition performed by ballet companies large and small around the United States.


Clara dances with her nutcracker  Photo credit: Rebecca Stansfield

Clara dances with her nutcracker
Photo credit: Rebecca Stansfield


And this is where the economics comes in. Ballet companies (and, increasingly, a wider range of dance companies as well) supply The Nutcracker productions. Audience members create demand through ticket purchases for these generally well-received productions. In fact, dance companies typically take in enough revenue from The Nutcracker to sustain them for the rest of the year, when smaller productions or more experimental works are presented.


But it is not just ticket sales that contribute to The Nutcracker’s economic impact for dance companies and the community. Numerous events, such as Nutcracker teas, are also popular and well-attended. Nutcracker-themed gift shops are also common fundraisers for companies. And as this Washington Post article shows, Nutcracker-related partnerships between the Washington Ballet and DC businesses bring in approximately $200,000 for the company, excluding ticket sales.


However, not all of the economics is strictly related to company operations. The littlest cast members—the party girls and baby mice—can have a big impact as well. Friends and family often attend multiple shows to see the youngest dancers perform. When these outings are combined with dinner out, flowers for the budding ballerina, parking at the theater, et cetera, a significant amount of dollars is injected into the local economy.


The Mouse King and the Nutcracker battle in a production of the Nutcracker  Photo credit: Rebecca Stansfield

The Mouse King and the Nutcracker battle in a production of The Nutcracker
Photo credit: Rebecca Stansfield


Let’s not forget about the older dancers.


Of course, professional dancers receive paychecks for their work in The Nutcracker. But these dancers have a more interesting way of impacting the economy. One of the most coveted rites of passage in the ballet world is the pointe shoe, the torturously beautiful specialized satin and paste slippers that allow ballerinas (and in rare cases, danseurs) to ethereally rise up on their toes. Professionals and advanced students have to purchase these shoes (or have them purchased for them, depending on the company arrangement). And pointe shoes are expensive (not to mention accessories, like ribbons, elastics, toe pads, lamb’s wool, or Band-Aids). A single pair can cost between $50 and $120 depending on the brand, and professionals can go through multiple pairs in a single show. Multiply this by the number of dancers en pointe in the cast, and that’s a lot of shoes…and a lot of money. In fact, the New York City Ballet has an annual shoe budget of $650,000.




The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition whose influence transcends the boundaries of the stage. And much like the Sugar Plum Fairy’s magical dance, its economic impact, particularly to local economies, is reason for applause as well.



As a new member of the RESI team, I had my first experience at the annual Economic Outlook Conference on Monday, November 17, held on-campus in the West Village Commons. In addition to the economic outlook presentation and forecast, the theme of this year’s conference was the impact of craft brewing in Maryland.


After registration and a networking breakfast, the day officially began with Daraius Irani’s presentation “The Economic Recovery: Late to its Own Party.” As the title suggests, the presentation focused on how, even though the U.S. and Maryland economies are no longer in recessions, economic conditions are still subpar due to a lackluster recovery. For example, though Maryland has regained all of the jobs that were lost during the recession, these jobs are skewed towards low-wage, often part-time opportunities. Understandably, the RESI economic forecast was not exactly brewing with good optimistic news (excuse the puns, they are just inevitable).


Set up for the Economic Outlook Conference


This year’s forecast predicts that employment growth will not exceed 0.5% annually from 2014 to 2017, which is not exactly great news for the state. One of the questions we get asked frequently is how accurate our forecast can be. When RESI reexamined our forecast from last year’s conference to compare it to the actual data from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) RESI’s forecast was under by only 152 jobs. Yes, RESI predicted that last year would end with 2,921,819 Maryland residents employed on average in 2013, and DLLR’s actual tabulations from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program were 2,921,970 residents employed on average in 2013. I don’t know about you, but I consider that to be pretty accurate.


The morning keynote by Lester Jones, chief economist with the National Beer Wholesalers Association (can we say dream job) provides an overview of the beer industry in the United States and explained how various economic conditions—for example, changes in consumer preferences for high quality beer—and political factors—changes in federal law and tax credits for craft brewers, for instance—have shaped how people make and drink beer over time.


It was then time for the day’s panel discussion, titled “Craft Beer: Passing Fad or Resilient Economic Development Tool?” Panelists included Jake Day, President of the Salisbury City Council, Maureen O’Prey, historian and author of Brewing in Baltimore and contributor to the documentary Brewmore Baltimore, JT Smith, Executive Director of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland, and Kasey Turner, founder and COO of Jailbreak Brewing Company in Laurel, Maryland. The panelists discussed how craft brewing has impacted their respective fields of expertise or professions, and came to the conclusion that, while craft brewing has had a large positive impact in Maryland thus far, there are ample opportunities for growth.


Fred Crudder of Heavy Seas, RESI Chief Economist Daraius Irani, Baltimore historian Maureen O'Prey, Jailbreak Brewing Founder and COO Kasey Turner, Salisbury City Council President Jake Day, and JT Smith of the Brewer's Association of Maryland

Fred Crudder of Heavy Seas, RESI Chief Economist Daraius Irani, Baltimore historian Maureen O’Prey, Jailbreak Brewing Founder and COO Kasey Turner, Salisbury City Council President Jake Day, and JT Smith of the Brewer’s Association of Maryland


Fred Crudder, director of marketing and hospitality at Baltimore’s Heavy Seas Beer, delivered the afternoon’s keynote address, “My Worst Day is Better than Your Best Day.” Crudder’s talk began with the story of how he found himself working in the beer industry and then at Heavy Seas in particular. He then extoled Maryland’s craft brewing industry, both in terms of the role it plays in the state and in terms of the high-quality beer that is produced. Crudder’s talk included a beer tasting of Heavy Seas Gold Ale.


This year’s Economic Outlook Conference was an engaging experience. Though the economic forecast may have matched the dreary weather outside, the energy in the room more than compensated for the somber economic outlook…and the craft beer samples didn’t hurt either. Cheers to another great conference!



The past few weeks have been a busy yet exciting time for the TU Incubator and Entrepreneurship team. We had the pleasure of attending JA Jams, an upscale concert event organized to increase awareness and fundraising support of Junior Achievement of Central Maryland. VIPs gathered at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall to also honor Frank Bonsal III, a Maryland venture capitalist and Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University. Frank’s list of contributions to furthering entrepreneurship in the region is nearly endless; Frank has served on numerous nonprofit boards, provided early stage investments to education technology (EdTech) and service companies, and advised innovative entrepreneurs, most recently in his role at TU.


JA_group photo

Stephanie Chin, Chad Nazworth, Frank Bonsal III, and Zach Jones – Towson University’s Entrepreneurship Team


Earlier this year, Frank’s father, venture capitalist Frank A. Bonsal, Jr., was also recognized for his contributions to entrepreneurship and the success of Maryland incubators and awarded the Robert A. Spar Hall of Fame Award. Perhaps most excitingly, to cap off the night, attendees reveled in the opportunity to enjoy the live musical talent of Kenny Loggins, and the TU Entrepreneurship team surely did cut loose, footloose.


Kenny Loggins at the Junior Achievement Awards

Kenny Loggins at the Junior Achievement Awards


On November 12, we then had the opportunity to attend one of the biggest entrepreneurial events in Maryland, TEDCO’s annual Entrepreneur Expo. The Expo was a full day crammed with breakout sessions, fireside chats, pitch sessions, show & tell, and two keynote speakers- David Rose and Paul Reed. Governor-Elect Larry Hogan was present to check out the lively tech community. The big names were present, such as Under Armour, as well as individual entrepreneurs with a desire to learn more, network, and perhaps even find an investor or mentor along the way. TU Incubator and other Maryland incubators in MBIA were present, and the 2014 Expo even included a session on incubators, accelerators, and coworking spaces. This year’s event was particularly interesting for me, for I was not only gleaning information to bring back to TU Incubator but also for Student Launch Pad and all the student entrepreneurs we have interacted with over the Fall semester.





There are two root ways in which K-12 education can be wholly brought into the 21st Century: 1) Change the System or 2) Change the Effectiveness of the People in the System. Technology and web services will likely be a necessary tool in either case.


1-AMDZcqOO9IgMsk5l1rv5VAI first met Nicole Tucker-Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Lessoncast Learning, at a Baltimore edtech meetup celebrating the early edtech ecosystem work we had begun in Maryland, what was a precursor to EdTech Maryland’s evolution. Prior to that, I had met another Lessoncast co-founder and Nicole’s husband, Khalid Rudo Smith, at an ETC Baltimore mentor meeting. Stating Nicole and Khalid as a dynamic duo does not do them justice. Below is a conversation I had with Nicole about Lessoncast, and how her approach to teacher professional development, moreover education is both different and lasting.


Frank: Nicole, what drove you to leave a profession in which you were seemingly successful and found harmony?



I’ve left the traditional path for educators, but I don’t think that I will ever leave education. Whether I’m a teacher, a principal, a district leader, or founder of an edtech company, I’m still serving the education profession. I left my position with the school district because I believed that there were innovative ways to improve teaching and learning, and making those innovations a reality required going outside the bounds of traditional schooling. In leading professional learning for a turnaround middle school, I realized the painful inadequacies of typical professional development (PD). If we truly want to improve how students learn, then we need to provide better options to help teachers learn new practices, share their expertise, and grow professionally. In developing the Lessoncast process, I saw the impact and potential for improving professional learning opportunities for educators. I felt that the best way to scale that impact was to found a startup.


Frank: Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?


It’s no coincidence that my husband, Khalid, was the founding director of StartupWeekend Education. I saw the work that he was doing with other entrepreneurial-minded educators, and he encouraged me to recognize the potential of my ideas. I was tired of being bound by the institutional phrase “this is the way that we’ve always done things.” Together, we’ve turned a classroom-tested improvement process into scalable software as a service. Building the opportunity to share this service with other schools is exciting, invigorating, and scary all at the same time. But as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Done.


Frank: So, you founded Lessoncast to make a difference, to solve some problems in education. What are some impediments to teacher effectiveness at scale and how does Lessoncast address these?



One of the major impediments to teacher effectiveness is a 20th century mindset to professional learning for educators. When we use the term “PD,” many of us still envision a two-hour workshop where all of the teachers sit in a cafeteria and hear from an outside speaker. Rarely does this lead to changes in practice much less “effectiveness.” In the same way that we recognize diverse learning needs among students, we need to realize that teachers vary in their learning needs as well. Lessoncast employs technology to rethink professional learning opportunities for educators. We provide differentiated teacher learning experiences that are tailored for specific teacher learning communities (schools, districts, teacher preparation programs). Through our platform, interactive modules are available on-demand when they are most relevant, and as teachers engage in the learning process they actually create resources for other educators. We need teacher supports that are relevant to today’s classrooms and that capitalize on the power of digital technology.


Frank: What makes the Lessoncast solution unique and scalable?



We recognize that teacher education is a continuum. It starts in pre-service teacher preparation programs and spans induction and ongoing professional growth, not just for teachers but administrators as well. Lessoncast partners with programs and schools across this entire continuum, and we’re able to bring together the best of both worlds. Our Lessoncast tools enable us to build on the research-based methods used in teacher preparation programs to provide K12 educators with professional learning modules that are relevant, impactful, performance-based, and results-oriented. And, in the process, teachers create resources that showcase their professional voice and expertise.


Frank: Your co-founder is also your husband. You have two children. How do you balance the home and professional sides of life?



While leading a startup is a 24–7 commitment, I find it much easier to achieve work-life balance in this role than I did as an assistant principal. Being a school-based leader is not only around the clock, but it allows for very little flexibility in terms of scheduling and managing your time. Khalid and I joke that Lessoncast is our third child. We give lots of time and love to this third child, but not at the expense of our first two. If we did, then all would be for nothing. Keeping that in perspective and recognizing that we choose how we spend our time helps us to maintain that balance.


Frank: What excites you the most about what you do? What the least?



I’m excited about the real potential for major breakthroughs and making a difference for teachers and students. I enjoy meeting new people from national organizations, other companies, and educational institutions and learning from their experiences and challenges.


What excites me the least is the day-to-day accounting and invoicing, the financial realities of running a company. At the end of the day, we have to go beyond having a great idea to having a sustainable business. It’s a bold leap; now we just need to stick the landing.

N.B. Lessoncast is a Towson University Incubator resident member, and I am Director of Entrepreneurship at Towson University and Director of TU Incubator. Lessoncast is a recipient of 2014 Maryland TEDCO TCF award and a 2014 DILA Honorable mention.



What a rich journey I have had!  It really pays to be an economic developer, and to know others in this field because economic developers are a remarkable resource, one that has perspective on the whole of an economy and the unique character of a region. Further, they can personally connect you to the best resources available given your specific interests. This is how the second half of my time in Australia went.


Arriving in Townsville, my economic development host, Simon Millcock, who had visited Towson University previously and is active with the International Economic Development Council, had arranged several ‘behind the scenes’ meetings for me, targeting my interest in Edu-Tourism/Economic Development and sustainability as it relates to Towson’s partnership with the town of Port Deposit and our research of the Northern Map Turtle.


Billabong Sanctuary
My adventure began with a stop at the Billabong Sanctuary, where I was hosted by director Bob Flemming. This sanctuary and educational place hosts nearly 600 school groups a year to learn about Australia’s natural habitat and the life of some of the very special species of Australia to include, birds, kangaroo, koala, wombats, dingos, and yes, some crocodiles. Importantly, The Billabong is home to many turtles who coexist in this sustainable environment.  The sanctuary has a wonderful function room where discussions and presentations can take place, and exceptional staff work with the student groups to give them a close up wildlife educational experience.


Bob, Simon, and I at the Billabong.  If you look closely on the ground there is a rope in an oblong circle that designates the track for their daily turtle races.

Bob, Simon, and I at the Billabong. If you look closely on the ground there is a rope in an oblong circle that designates the track for their daily turtle races.

Reef HQ, Great Barrier Reef Aquarium
This phenomenal facility is first an education and research facility, and also a tourist and community attraction.  Fred Nucifora, whose enthusiasm is infectious, was my host at Reef HQ.  As it turns out Reef HQ is working with faculty from around the globe, supporting customized curriculum for student exchange and research in marine life.  Their educational tools and technology are cutting edge and have given me many ideas to support the education/research/information center development planned for Port Deposit. Additionally, Reef HQ has a focus on turtles, has a turtle hospital, and supports sustainability research in the maintenance of habitat. Our interests are clearly aligned.

The Reef HQ is an incredible facility for education.

The Reef HQ is an incredible facility for education.

The Reef HQ has a unique focus on turtles.

The Reef HQ has a unique focus on turtles.


Museum of Tropical Queensland
The Museum displays the story of the HMS Pandora and hosts other exhibits both traveling and permanent.  Importantly, their outreach efforts into the community are excellent, giving the museum an educational and local appeal through its changing exhibits that reflect the community’s culture and character.  Tye was my host, and by the time we finished the tour, I was thinking anthropology could be a second career.


My last day in Australia ended with an evening in Brisbane which was celebrating the many cultures of the G20, as Brisbane is host to the G20 Summit that will begin there in the coming week. Using the theme, Colour Me Brisbane, the city was alive with colors, music, art and entertainment of all kinds.  What an auspicious time to be there, and a rich way to top my journey to the Down Under.


Brisbane Cityscape at Night

Brisbane Cityscape at Night

Today with a new smile, I turn my attention toward arriving at BWI; and in the American tradition, wish all my new friends who helped me learn and discover Australia, Happy Trails



We are once again busy preparing for this year’s Economic Outlook Conference. In past blog posts, I’ve written about all the work it takes to put together the outlook presentation and the extremely important part that students play in helping us put the event together. This year marks the ninth conference that I have been a part of. However, this year’s conference has the special distinction of being my very favorite one yet. I feel as though I have to preface that statement by saying that it has nothing to do with the conference-sponsored happy hour we hosted two weeks ago. In fact, this year’s theme, “The Economic Impact of Craft Brewing in Maryland,” is proving to be even more interesting than I expected.


In preparation for the event, we have been learning a little more about the craft brewing industry. For example, there’s a big decision to make when deciding whether or not to can or bottle the brew. There’s also a difficult trademark process, and cease and desist letters are commonplace. These are just a few of the topics that the panel will be covering. I’ve also learned that there are jobs such as Chief Economist at the National Beer Wholesalers Association (Where did I go wrong in my career?).


This year’s speakers are a diverse group of individuals with varied knowledge in the industry. We have a historian who specializes in the brewing industry in Maryland (She even has a book!) and the marketing director of local brewery Heavy Seas, just to name a few. In case that wasn’t enough, we’ll kick off the day with our own Chief Economist Dr. Daraius Irani providing us with the economic outlook for the year. Every year, attendees look forward to the insightful findings (and lighthearted jokes) that his presentation has become known for. During an election year, the economy plays a significant part in the outcome of elections. Dr. Irani will help to frame the current climate and outline what his expectations are for the economy in the coming year. Fortunately, the theme will play into whatever outcome is expected—here’s hoping we will be cheering for a positive outlook. Registration is still open, and we can’t wait to see you all there!




It seems I have lived half a lifetime in the first part of my adventure to Oz. Started my journey with some short exploring in Sydney and a trip to Bondi Beach, which was beautiful. Next I headed to Darwin and began my encounters with the Economic Development Australia Organization.  An early lesson learned in my economic development career is that a good way to get a quick update about the local state of affairs is to ask the cab driver his views on the economy.  Lucky for me, the cab driver was quite articulate and did give me an earful.  Seems the boom economy has altered the landscape a bit in Darwin both for the good and for the not so good. More to learn here.


The EDA experience so far

We started our EDA experience with the chair of the EDA, Steve Chappel, going swimming with a very   big and ferocious saltwater crocodile. Although he was enclosed in a glass case, it was still a pretty awesome thing to watch. I figured he either pulled the short straw, or the long one depending on your sense of adventure.

EDA Chair Steve Chappel swimming with a saltwater crocodile

EDA Chair Steve Chappel swimming with a saltwater crocodile


The EDA conference was very interesting and by all accounts a success. The days have been jam packed, with some of my highlights including:

  • Serving on an international panel discussion along with representatives from New Zealand and Australia.
  • Giving a presentation about University partnerships and workforce in the U.S.A. and also speaking about the IEDC, International Economic Development Council.
  • Helping to present the EDA awards for best practices.

The next morning after the awards ceremony I received more country indoctrination with my introduction to Australian Vegemite. Those at my breakfast table just delighted in my reaction to the stuff. It is definitely an acquired taste, and not to be eaten by the spoonful!


Developing new relationships between Universities and Economic Development Organizations

Teaching an energized group during the Master Class

Teaching an energized group during the Master Class

Friday was our trip to Darwin University, where we taught a Master Class on University and Economic Development Organization relationships. There were presentations from several other universities including James Cook University and Edith Cowan University. We had a strong turnout for the class, with approximately 35 participants. Great enthusiasm and participation came from the group, which seems to be the Australian way. It is clear new university and economic development relationships were made. Now feeling even more like a local in Oz.


Just a great first half, now breathing easier for the remainder of the trip, leaving any crocs, real or imagined, behind.

“Ga’ Day Mate”]

“Ga’ Day Mate”



In my past blog posts, I’ve written about community engagement at TU, the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement application process, and the measurement and evaluation of community engagement and outreach. Since those blog posts, there have been exciting developments in the world of university-community partnerships.


Recently, Dr. Loeschke expressed a desire for a more streamlined partnership process at Towson. She wanted a better way to track, measure, and support them in order to know what we are doing, where we are working, and who we are working with.


Several steps have been taken to reach Dr. Loeschke’s goal. In addition to the work that has been done to develop new reporting and feedback tools for partnerships, a new Partnership Support Plan has been developed. This purpose of this plan is to group partnerships together to better support them, to raise awareness of partnerships happening across campus, and to better evaluate these partnerships. Partnerships will be grouped based on key characteristics, the level of institutional involvement, sustainability, and partnership purpose and goals.


The key characteristics that will be used to group partnerships include:

  • Number of partners including individuals, units, departments, colleges, divisions, and external organizations
  • Singular or multiple areas of focus
  • Student involvement
  • Timeframe: short- or long-term
  • Overall complexity of partnership

A Partnerships Working Group has also been brought together to identify which partnerships should be managed on a university level, to review partnerships to identify opportunities for collaboration or expansion, and to ensure that progress is being made on partnerships. This group will meet quarterly and includes the following members:


The hopeful result of this whole process will be a better grasp of the partnerships happening at Towson University, increased awareness of those partnerships across campus, and on-going measurement of them in order to see how we’re doing year over year. I’ll continue to provide updates as we progress with this new system, so be sure to check back!



Exciting things have been happening for entrepreneurship at Towson University. Last week, Acting President Timothy Chandler cut the ribbon to the Launch Pad Loft, officially opening the doors to our brand new space. Student’s from all disciplines are invited to the Loft—located on the fourth floor of Cook Library—to meet with a Launch Pad Specialist and expound on all their innovative ideas and creative musings. It is our hope that this space will become a crucial workspace for student entrepreneurs and serve as a hub for enterprise creation and development.


During Thursday’s Kick Off event, the Student Launch Pad Team was joined by members of Towson University’s faculty, staff, and administration–many of which have been integral in the creation of the Student Launch Pad through committee work. These committees showed their dedication to student entrepreneurship by securing our space in the library, gathering funding from across the university, and outlining workshops and programs for students. We are very thankful to our committee members for their support and commitment to student success in entrepreneurship.

Launchpad Opening0003

Towson University Student Launch Pad Ribbon Cutting (From left to right: Enactus Student Members; Towson University’s Acting President, Timothy Chandler; Frank Bonsal III, Director of Entrepreneurship; Dyan Brasington, VP, Division of Innovation and Applied Research) – Photo credit: DeCarlo Brown


The Launch Pad Loft is accessible to all students via open office hours, listed on our Facebook, and by appointment. Students that come into the space can meet with a Student Launch Pad specialist and work through their idea using the Business Model Canvas. This open source tool is helpful to people at all stages of their entrepreneur career as it allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot your business model. We use this tool in conjunction with the Lean Start-Up Methodology to present entrepreneurship to students in a way that is accessible and approachable–rather than as a project that is quickly stalled by complicated business plans and theory. Our method encourages students to start now and get out of the building with their idea (a phrase heard often in the Lean Start-Up world). It is our hope that by opening the doors to the Loft, we will be opening a new door to student success through entrepreneurship.



As the days get shorter and the temperature cools, as flannel, scarves, and boots reenter wardrobes and flip flops are buried in the bottoms of closets, it is abundantly clear: fall is upon us. And this change can mean only one thing: the much-anticipated return of pumpkin spice season. What began when Starbucks introduced its pumpkin spice latte in 2003 has blossomed into $308 million of pumpkin-themed sales annually. And what better way to analyze this phenomenon than with the economist’s toolbox?



Image credit: Wikimedia


The central theme of economics is scarcity: limited resources despite unlimited desires. And pumpkin spice lattes are a prime example of a scarce resource. While it is possible to buy pumpkin year-round thanks to the modern market, and pumpkin spice lattes are just a combination of coffee, milk, and syrup (that you can easily make at home regardless of the time of year), the return of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks is a national news event. This restriction on the supply of pumpkin spice lattes, self-imposed though it may be, results in over $80 million in sales for Starbucks in a single season. Which means, with that decision, they are single-handedly making pumpkin-flavored goods seasonal and scarce.


Also paramount to the field of economics are the laws of supply and demand, and the pumpkin spice craze lends itself nicely to these concepts. The law of supply states that a good’s price and the quantity supplied are directly related—that is, producers are willing to make more of a good when it is more expensive. Put another way, as a good becomes more expensive, more producers are willing to enter the market and supply the good. And think about what has happened with pumpkin-themed goods: over a decade ago, Starbucks alone introduced the pumpkin spice latte. And now, there is pumpkin-spiced everything on the market: pumpkin beer, pumpkin candles, pumpkin dog treats, pumpkin spice beef jerky, and even pumpkin spice deodorant.


Image credit: Starbucks

Pumpkin Spice Latte – Image credit: Starbucks


The law of demand states that a good’s price and the quantity demanded are inversely related—that is, as a good becomes cheaper, the quantity demanded of the good increases. One of the determinants of demand—the factors that change the amount of a good that consumers are willing to buy at a constant price—is the tastes and preferences of consumers. In other words, they are willing to pay relatively more for things that they like and less for things that they dislike. Given the resounding popularity of all things pumpkin spice-themed, they can be grouped into the former category. There is even empirical evidence to support this theoretical argument: the United States Department of Agriculture’s analysis shows that seasonal demand increases retail prices for pumpkins.


The pumpkin spice craze has a huge impact upon the U.S., both economically and more generally. As the Buzzfeed lists, Twitter handle, and Tumblr hashtag show, consumers are excited by and respond well to pumpkin-themed goods. And luckily for everyone, the trend shows no signs of slowing down or decomposing like a Jack-o-lantern in November.