Pumped up for pumpkin spice


Malcolm Taylor

From left to right: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Tortilla Chips, Pumpkin Brioche Twist, Pumpkin Spice Hummus, Non-Dairy Pumpkin Oat Beverage and Pumpkin Bagels. The Midway staff enjoyed the pumpkin bagels, but didn’t think the rest were worth buying.

Even before the leaves turn brown, the products turn pumpkin. And no store does seasonal, novelty foods better than Trader Joe’s. It does them so well, in fact, that its products can veer off into plain weird. In the spirit of the season, the Midway staff reviewed the best and the worst of Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice products, determining whether each item was worth buying, or just too out there.

Non-Dairy Pumpkin Oat Beverage ($2.49) Ranking: Weird

The pumpkin spice oat beverage may not look or even sound appetizing, but it incorporates the pumpkin flavor decently well. The bright orange appearance was disconcerting, but the taste wasn’t too bad. The cinnamon flavor in the beverage is strong but complemented the pumpkin well. The beverage has the same consistency as milk. The oat beverage would be best paired with foods such as cereal or mixed into other beverages like coffee, but on its own, it’s not worth buying. ­

—Peter Cox and Sahana Unni

Pumpkin Spice Hummus ($2.49) Ranking: Weird 

Pumpkin and spice do not pair well with hummus. While it was smooth and creamy, the pumpkin hummus was an unflattering brown color with off-putting gray undertones and dark speckles. It had a strong, sickly sweet pumpkin flavor, but it had very little spice and left a strange aftertaste, like rotted pumpkins. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Hummus is neither fall-flavored nor palatable.

—Amy Ren and Téa Tamburo

Pumpkin Spice Brioche Twist ($3.99) Ranking: Weird

While fluffy, the pumpkin spice brioche lacked a pumpkin flavor but was abundant with cinnamon. The brioche did not taste like pumpkins or any other typical fall flavor, as was hoped. The texture was light and airy, but it was dry and desperately needed a splash of milk on the side. It could even serve as the basis for French toast. The pumpkin brioche did fall short of pumpkin-favored expectations but made up for it in its golden-brown appearance and fluffy texture. Although it’s not a complete flop, it’s not something to reach for when looking for a fall-flavored pastry. 

— Audrey Park and Téa Tamburo

Pumpkin Spice Bagel ($2.49)  Ranking: Worth

While not overpowering, the taste of fall in the pumpkin spice bagels was certainly noticeable. The flavor of the pumpkin was distinct — perfect for pairing the bagel with toppings like cream cheese or enjoying with a warm drink. The bagel was brown with hints of orange, and its texture was comparable to a normal bagel: crisp and dense, but a bit too bready. The pumpkin spice bagels are a great choice for a simple yet subtly festive breakfast item. 

—Peter Cox, Audrey Park

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips ($3.99)  Weird

Although the pumpkin tortilla chips have hints of fall flavor, they have neither a strong pumpkin nor spice taste. They tasted like regular tortilla chips, with hints of cinnamon and a slight nutty flavor. They are barely distinguishable from other chips. The texture and appearance of the fall snack were appetizing, as it looked and felt like a slightly darker and saltier tortilla chip. Overall, there is nothing striking about the chips, making them not worth stocking up on this fall.

 —Amy Ren and Sahana Unni

These items are seasonal, availabilty in stores is limited.