Trader Joe’s offers up a cornucopia of tasty fall treats in preparation for the coming season

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Jessie Warren

The fall-themed endcap that meets customers the second they enter Trader Joe’s.

Out of all the seasons, it is no secret that I harbor an unabashed, brazen adoration for autumn.

Similar to every other girl my age, there is something about the leaves changing each year that brings me inimitable joy. I will forever cherish the taste of cinnamon donuts and apple cider on my tongue and the way the air shifts from the fiery heat of August to the subtle chill of October. Yet, most of all, I value when my best friend and I gather together in search of fall candles and autumnal goodies, annually traversing the greater Grand Rapids area as a sort of inauguration to the coming season.

And, each time without fail, we find ourselves within the warm and welcoming aisles of Trader Joe’sWhether it be the ambiance, the people, or the actual groceries, this store fills me with a familiar sort of comfort matched by no other marketplace. Now more than ever is this true as the shelves fill up with tones of crimson, saffron, and tangerine, catching my eye as I shopped yesterday for the perfect pallet of pumpkin.

Pumpkin Hummus:

Autumnal Factor: 3 out of 10

Flavor: 1 out of 10

One of the main reasons I reached for this product was because, right off the bat, the name perplexed me. Fall flavors and hummus as individual bodies are two staples of my diet, and the combination of the two was a spectacle I knew I had to taste. Reading into the ingredients, the primary additive in this product is chickpeas, and that mixed with the texture are two of the only factors similar to the traditional Middle Eastern dish.

Otherwise, the essence of this dip is overwhelmingly sweet in an utterly disappointing way; I left my first bite wondering who on Earth thought that this product was a good idea. Reminiscent of baby food, the introduction of pumpkin flavoring to hummus stripped it of its savory integrity, ruining what is considered one of my favorite snacks.

Pumpkin Biscotti:

Autumnal Factor: 7 out of 10

Flavor: 3 out of 10

Growing up, my family and I would take regular trips to the East Coast, most often to visit family. On one of these expeditions to my Nana Ingrid’s home in Tuxedo, New York, we left with a tin of Italian cookies—the kind in a circular blue and white box with tiny photos of the included treats on top. After consuming a few biscotti on the ride home, I became incredibly car sick, likely due to an entirely unrelated issue. However, since then, I cannot eat one of these biscuits without feeling ill, a factor I tried to exclude from my rating of this product.

I would say that, besides that, these biscotti cookies were moderately okay. Their texture was delectable, and I imagine they would pair deliciously with a hot tea or coffee. They were also shockingly spicy, and while I had difficulty finding the pumpkin flavor, the cinnamon and nutmeg truly made the cookie enjoyable, despite how queasy they made me.

Pumpkin Spread:

Autumnal Factor: 4 out of 10

Flavor: 6.5 out of 10

One of the main reasons I picked up this product was due to the packaging. From the wood-textured lid to the charming logo, I found myself drawn to the cottagecore aesthetic—no matter how ridiculous that sounds in light of it being a preserve.

Going off of the advice to pair the spread with cheese or crackers, I thinly layered it over some fresh mozzarella, and the first bite sincerely shocked me. The sugary flavor was not what I expected, and this led to an off-the-cuff negative review. Yet, tasting it separate from the cheese, I rather enjoyed it. Quite similar to honey, I felt it might have melded better with brie or even crackers, a hypothesis I will definitely be experimenting with in the future.

Whether it be the ambiance, the people, or the actual groceries, this store fills me with a familiar sort of comfort matched by no other marketplace.”

Pumpkin Bagel:

Autumnal Factor: 5 out of 10

Flavor: 7 out of 10

Though it may come across as blasphemous, I am usually not the biggest fan of bagels. As a rule, I don’t fall back upon breakfast foods, and this applies especially to this doughy dish. I’ve never been able to find the right combination of toasting and toppings and thus have entirely avoided bagels up until quite recently.

Yet, I took a chance on this pumpkin variety, and it did not disappoint—at least, I don’t think it did. I would say that, while the actual consumption does not provide robust notes of autumn, one is afterward met with reasonably pleasant fall aromas. While I would never go out of my way to repurchase these bagels, I’ll definitely eat and enjoy the rest of the bag that is left sitting in my cupboard.

Pumpkin Oat Beverage:

Autumnal Factor: 9 out of 10

Flavor: 7 out of 10

As the fall season begun in full swing, one of my best friends, Natalie Mix, pioneered a groundbreaking beverage that our entire friend group has become obsessed with: a Starbucks iced chai with oat milk, pumpkin sauce, and pumpkin creme cold foam. This spin on the classic Trader Joe’s Oat Beverage reminded me subtly of “The Natalie,” even if simply based on the packaging and title.

The flavor was distinctly autumnal while remaining faint, allowing it to pair well with chai tea and work on its own. And while I do not see myself switching out my usual oat milk for this one, I can indeed perceive a future in which I occasionally sip on some Pumpkin Oat Beverage, even if that vision only extends until winter.

Pumpkin Bread/Muffins:

Autumnal Factor: 9 out of 10

Flavor: 7 out of 10

Recently, by some kismet deviation in behavior, I’ve begun falling in love with baking. Left with some time to kill and an empty kitchen, I find myself wanting to combine ingredients and create a delicacy, whether I end up actually enjoying said treat or not. This pumpkin bread mix that I used to make pumpkin muffins elicited in me the excitement of baking, which definitely made my day.

Yet, upon pulling my muffins out of the oven, I found the flavor slightly lacking. With strong tinges of piquancy, the taste did not lack the fall spice I search for. However, within that strength, there was very little solace. If only the mix had included walnuts or even cranberries, I feel as if I would have enjoyed it all the more.

Nevertheless, I would definitely recommend this mix.

Pumpkin Ice Cream:

Autumnal Factor: 8.5 out of 10

Flavor: 7.5 out of 10

Going into writing this review, I had already previously tried Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream, and I was both comforted and surprised to learn that my opinions of it had not changed. While I will always love the indirect nutmeg flavor that chimes in near the end of each bite, it is not enough to entirely make up for the lack of pumpkin flavor that appears throughout. On top of that, this ice cream is rather sweet and thus may not be for everyone.

While I’ve definitely had better pumpkin ice cream in the past, this gallon acts as an easily accessible and slightly parallel dupe—one that I’d purchase again in the future.

Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels:

Autumnal Factor: 6 out of 10

Flavor: 8 out of 10

As I was meandering my way to the check-out line with my cart of delights, my eyes fell upon these yogurt-covered pumpkin pretzels, and primarily due to the silly name, I knew I had to try them.

At the end of the day, these were similar to other products in their category, making their flavor relatively predictable. Yet, moving past this absence in variety, I did immensely enjoy them, reminding me of the ones I adored as a child with a zing of fall flavor to fit the person I’ve grown into.

Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s:

Autumnal Factor: 9 out of 10

Flavor: 10 out of 10

When crafting my ratings for this review, Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s quickly became my ideal. Though I usually don’t love these Trader Joe’s spin-off Oreos, I found myself reaching for another after tasting this perfectly spiced and pumpkin-flavored cookie for the first time. While products under the fall category can often be hit-or-miss, I’d recommend these to anyone in the market for a taste of autumn.