October 1/New York/Nielsen -- Pumpkin is everywhere these days. From the neighborhood coffee house to the local grocery store, this palate-pleasing player has spread like wildfire throughout restaurants and stores this season, and seemingly earlier than last year. Last year, pumpkin-flavored offerings in the U.S. grew 18.8% in Nielsen-measured retail outlets, selling over $290 million during calendar year 2012.

Though many pumpkin offerings are available year-round, there’s no denying the seasonal popularity of this particular brand of squash right now. Last year, 70% of pumpkin-oriented grocery sales in the U.S. occurred between September and November. And sales were not limited to pie filling; pumpkin pops up across the kitchen landscape -- from breakfast foods to beverages to the ever-popular dessert items.

Pie filling, however, is a solid pumpkin performer. Last year, it accounted for 42.7% of all pumpkin sales, followed by coffee and cream (11.2% and 9.5%, respectively). The popularity of pumpkin in the grocery aisles has no doubt piggybacked on the rise of pumpkin outside of the grocery stores. Starbucks, for example, just celebrated the 10th anniversary of its Pumpkin Spice Latte. This specialty latte is Starbucks’ most popular seasonal beverage, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So what fueled the 18.8% pumpkin growth last year? Breakfast foods included seven out of 10 of the top growing categories when ranked on dollar growth. Baked bread flew to the top of dollar growth, up 177% from 2011. Coffee and cream followed suit as top growers, with frozen sweet breakfast goods coming in fourth. The frozen breakfast sweet goods segment was new in 2012, as it wasn’t a top grower in the previous year.

The pumpkin trend can be found outside of the grocery store as well, extending into coffee houses and restaurants that serve breakfast. Perhaps consumers enjoy pairing their pumpkin flavored coffee with pumpkin toast topped with pumpkin cream cheese. This orange gourd has even influenced the spice rack. Of all the pumpkin flavors (e.g., pumpkin, pumpkin spice, pumpkin apple), pumpkin spice is the second most popular,and units sold grew 60% in 2012 versus a year ago.