Seasonal Taste Test Time
It’s pumpkin spice season and the seasonal drinks and food are everywhere right now, as I’m sure you already know.
And what can I say? I’m a sucker for marketing (which is rather surprising seeing as I work in marketing so I really shouldn’t fall prey to these gimmicks), but honestly I only have so much willpower and as my Instagram and Facebook feeds showcase limited-edition, seasonal pumpkin spice everything day after day I finally caved and decided it was time to taste some of these products to see what the hype is all about. And to make sure my reviews were helpful, I decided to enlist a second taste-tester because two is better than one… and I didn’t really feel like binge eating sugary pumpkin crap by myself.
THE TASTE TESTERS
I am not a pumpkin fanatic by any means (PSLs are not my thang), but I can for sure get down with some pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread and pumpkin butter. I also love pumpkin spice because cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are kinda the dream team.
Our other judge, Kellen, claims he is “not a fan of pumpkin” and definitely showed up talking some heavy shit about pumpkin pie (who doesn’t like pumpkin pie?!).
So I think Kellen (the pumpkin hater) plus myself (the more pumpkin neutral person) should be able to offer well-balanced reviews and shed some light on which products are the real deal and which are underwhelming.
After staring at countless pumpkin flavored cookies, crackers, ice creams and more at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods I came home with 11 products to try: Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn, Pumpkin Spice Latte Pecans, Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider, Pumpkin Tortilla Chips, Candy Corn Popcorn, Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Pumpkin Butter, Pumpkin Spice RXBAR, Pumpkin Nonfat Greek Yogurt, Pumpkin Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Icing and Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies (and yes, the cashier at Trader Joe’s tooootally called me out for being “that” person who buys 7 pumpkin-flavored products - #sorrynotsorry).
And then we ate everything and went into a pumpkin food coma… but before that happened we ranked each product on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best), as well as offered a brief review. Without further ado…
Pumpkin Spice Latte Popcorn from Whole Foods
Sarah: This was weird. It tasted more like latte flavored popcorn than anything else. The coffee taste is strong and kind of an upsetting combo with the popcorn. 4.5/10
Kellen: “This tastes like evergreen trees and Christmas.” 1/10
Pumpkin Spice Latte Pecans from Whole Foods
Sarah: As a pecan I would give them a 9.5, but as a pumpkin spiced flavored pecan I would say a 2. They are delicious and I’m going to eat the whole bag, but they taste much more like a basic candied pecan than a pumpkin spice flavored one. I’m not a fan of false advertising… 2/10
Kellen: “I’m so happy they taste like pumpkin.” 8/10 (yes, our reviews are basically the exact opposite… someone’s taste buds are not right)
Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider from Whole Foods
Sarah: I didn’t not like it, but I also didn’t like it. If I didn’t know it was pumpkin spiced, I think I would’ve thought it was apple cider with a strange, kinda overly sweet aftertaste. Pro-tip: this would be good mixed with some alcohol… boozy spice? I’m game. 5/10
Kellen: “Tastes like when you’re kid and your mom leaves juice out and still makes you drink it.” (Someone had a rough childhood…) 4/10
Pumpkin Tortilla Chips from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: These are good tortilla chips, but I didn’t get a whole lot of pumpkin flavor. If I’m going to buy tortilla chips, I think I’d rather stick to regular ones. 5/10
Kellen: Upon first tasting these chips, Kellen gave them a measly 2/10 saying that they “taste like cardboard.” A few handfuls of chips later, he bumped that up to a 6/10 offering that they “taste just like regular tortilla chips with nutmeg” and that they were actually “pretty good.” Final verdict… 6/10
Candy Corn Popcorn from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: For a sweet treat, this is a win! The popcorn was super buttery and flavorful, but to be honest I wasn’t getting much candy corn taste. It reminds me much more of caramel corn or Cracker Jacks, which isn’t a bad thing but wasn’t what I expected. 9.5/10
Kellen: “Delicious, tastes like caramel corn.” 9/10
Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: These taste like sugary crack and I’m into ‘em. 10/10
Kellen: “I could eat the whole bag.” 8.5/10
Pumpkin Butter from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: Tastes exactly as you’d exact - pumpkin pie in a jar. I tried it on a pumpkin tortilla chip (and regretted that move, do not try at home). This could be good with toast, in oatmeal or perhaps in a dessert of some sort… it’s definitely very sweet. I wouldn’t buy it again, but it tasted good. 9.5/10
Kellen: “Tastes like pumpkin pie mixed with cotton candy.” 1/10 (at least we can agree it’s sweet)
Pumpkin Spice RXBAR
Sarah: She tastes like a hard, flavorless brick. Not a fan. 2/10
Kellen: “Tastes just like pumpkin pie.” 6/10 (he’s wrong…)
Pumpkin Nonfat Greek Yogurt from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: The bright orange color, was an immediate turnoff and the flavor wasn’t much better. I’ll pass. 3/10
Kellen: “… I cant decide if I like it or not. I think it would be better if it weren’t Greek yogurt.” 5/10
Pumpkin Rolls with Pumpkin Spice Icing from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: These rolls are a tease! They’re good, like I ate it and I ate another one the following morning, but I was left wanting something more. Like I thought these would be totally extra, and they weren’t. For pumpkin flavored rolls I thought the pumpkin notes were lacking, and for a cinnamon roll type of deal I just thought they’d be better. They tasted like a basic biscuit with mildly sweet icing. 6.5/10
Kellen: “Perfectly gooey and delicious.” 9.5/10
Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies from Trader Joe’s
Sarah: These were delightful, delicious and hands down my favorite out of everything we tried. They also had the best packaging (brownie points for that). I would say the shortbread description was misleading though. They taste much more like gingerbread. So good! I could (and probably will) eat the whole box. Try these, you won’t be disappointed. 10/10
Kellen: “You could take these cookies to a cookie exchange party and everybody would steal them.” If that’s not a solid endorsement, I don’t know what is. 10/10
What are your favorite pumpkin/seasonal flavored products? Let me know in the comments below.