Perhaps this pumpkin craze requires some explanation. We understand that we have access to pumpkin pie spice all year long. But we don’t want it year-round. We want to avoid it entirely for nine months, and then eat nothing but pumpkin spice everything for three months. You see, it’s more than just the delicious blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Pumpkin spice products taste like football season. They remind us of trick-or-treating as children. They make us want to go to Six Flags Freight Fest and wait in line for five hours to go on a five minute haunted hayride. People, pumpkin spice is everything we love about fall.
We’ve dedicated far too much time, energy, and resources into eating every single pumpkin spice product we could possibly obtain in 2015. Because your time is a lot more valuable than ours, we’ve compiled our Top 10 recommendations to help inform your pumpkin purchases.
1) Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter: This product is a dream come true for pumpkin spice junkies. It takes Trader Joe’s near-perfect Speculoos cookie butter recipe and adds both real pumpkin and the full pumpkin pie spice blend: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, & allspice. Imagine eating a gingerbread man that was enveloped by an entire pumpkin pie. Now imagine being able to spread that on anything you want – pancakes, waffles, cookies, your tongue, etc. It’s pumpkin perfection in our eyes, and in our mouths. We’re going to give Trader Joe an enormous pumpkin-spiced hug the next time we see him for introducing this cookie butter.
2) Ben & Jerry’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream: This ice cream is mixed up with both real pumpkin puree and cream cheese. After the tidal wave of pumpkin spices, the flavor transitions to cheesecake. This isn’t just pumpkin ice cream – it’s pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. The ice cream features a graham cracker swirl that made us want to pay Ben & Jerry full asking price to produce it exclusively for us for the rest of our lives. It doesn’t require a ton of mix-ins because it’s decadent as is. Stock up on this Limited Batch flavor if you’re lucky to find it.
3) Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes: The spiced cupcake base is one of the better pumpkin spice cakes we’ve had this year. These cupcakes are fresh, moist, and loaded with ginger, nutmeg, and familiar pumpkin spices. The icing delivers the perfect amount of sugar and mimics a tangy cream cheese frosting. If that weren’t enough, these cupcakes are overflowing with your favorite vanilla Twinkie cream. The decorative autumn leaves are pretty adorable as well, making this one of the most fun fall treats on our list. We recommend serving these at children’s parties if you can restrain yourself from eating all of them alone.
4) Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Macarons: The textures and flavors in these macarons are very nearly flawless. They are light, they are chewy, they are sweetly spiced, and they depart an amazing pumpkin aftertaste. The macarons melt away in your mouth with an effervescence that will leave you reaching for the next one almost automatically. Best of all, you can eat these directly from your freezer instead of flying to France where you would expect to find such a technically sound macaron. These pair great with morning coffee, sweatpants, and Netflix.
5) Fiber One 90 Calorie Soft-Baked Pumpkin Bars: This is the only pumpkin product we’ve had that was specifically designed to help us poop with regularity. It also happens to be one of the best. These bars are soft, chewy, and gooey. They make it acceptable to use the word “moist” without cringing. The savory fall spices are prominent and the blend isn’t overly sweetened. The bars also contain cream-cheesed flavored chips that deliver a pleasant textural contest. Best of all, they will probably be the healthiest pumpkin product we eat all year. Dip these into your pumpkin coffees, crumble these into your pumpkin yogurts, or eat them alone and let them warm your little pumpkin-spiced hearts.
6) Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels: These caramels feature big fat Red Hawaiian sea salt crystals that will have salted caramel lovers drooling. The filling is richer and fuller than the traditional caramel, and it tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. The pumpkin caramel filling is balanced beautifully with the dark chocolate. If you can wade through the veritable ocean of pumpkin-spiced foods at your local Trader Joe’s without having a pumpkin-spiced anxiety attack, make sure you pick up these caramels for those moments when you need an indulgent treat.
7) Chobani Flip Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Greek Yogurt: This pumpkin low-fat yogurt adds pie crust pieces, pecans, and glazed pumpkin seeds for incredible texture. The yogurt uses real pumpkin puree, which may contribute to its exceptional creaminess. It favors cinnamon and nutmeg over excessive sugar and strikes the ideal balance of spice and sweet. The pie crust pieces add a buttery flavor to the overall experience, while the pecans fit snugly into the fall flavor profile. The real star may be the glazed pumpkin seeds. These seeds wear their glaze like a knight wears its armor – proud and plentiful. We would buy an entire garbage bag full of these glazed pumpkin seeds if sold separately.
8) Pillsbury Pumpkin Pie Toaster Strudel: Even though they make us apply our own icing like we are Chef Gordon Ramsey, Pillsbury hit a home run with this limited edition flavor. The dough is light, soft, and flaky with a buttery flavor that reminds us of funnel cake or Italian zeppole. Cinnamon and nutmeg are lead flavors in the pumpkin pie flavored filling that oozes out when you get to the center. The vanilla icing is quite literally the icing on the cake… err, pastry. As long as you have enough time to heat these in your Toaster oven without missing the school bus, we prefer these pastries over Kellogg’s Pumpkin Pie Pop Tarts.
9) Nabisco Pumpkin Spice Oreos: If you can locate these in the face of 40,000 other limited edition Oreo varieties, you won’t be disappointed. The orange cream is predominantly cinnamon and nutmeg flavored, and is a little less sweet than standard Oreo crème. Though it’s not the most pumpkin spicy product you’ll eat in 2015, the golden vanilla wafer provides a perfect sugary backdrop for the pumpkin spice cream to pop. Rather than tasting like pumpkin pie, this tastes like a golden Oreo with a well-balanced pumpkin flare. We appreciate this nuance. We’re hoping Nabisco will utilize the graham cracker wafer that they used in the S’mores and Key Lime Pie Oreos next year, but we will gladly rent out real estate to ten packages of these in our shame closet.
10) Starbucks New Pumpkin Spice Latte with Real Pumpkin: In the face of public outcry over the lack of any real pumpkin in their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL), Starbucks reformulated the recipe this year to include actual pumpkin puree. We’re glad they did. The PSL is a delightfully creamy treat, and we want to attribute some of that creaminess to the pumpkin puree. The pumpkin pie flavors are the deeper and bolder ones such as nutmeg and clove. Though it’s loaded with sugar, we didn’t find the new PSL to be cloying at all. The familiar bold roasted coffee flavor still powers through the pumpkin and vanilla flavored syrups. Just make sure your barista remembers to add pumpkin pie spices on top of your whipped cream. It’s not truly fall until you drink your first pumpkin spice latte.
For more pumpkin recommendations, check out our full Pumpkin Power Rankings at Junk Banter!
Junk Banter is the lovechild of two junk food enthusiasts (Chris B and Jaclyn M) who share a similar passion for craft beer. These two psychopaths have made it their mission to try every new junk food and every new craft beer ever released in the entire universe. Their blog captures their journey towards inevitable failure, delivering junk food and beer reviews, industry news, and other related nonsense along the way. Their blog is written with an emphasis on comedy, but it’s probably not that funny.