It was officially the first day of fall which means it’s that time of year when we are inundated with pumpkin spice-flavored EVERYTHING. I’ve gotten over my childhood aversion to pumpkin pie and I even have a few recipes I really like, but I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s just TOO MUCH.
In fact, I hate the pumpkin spice obsession so much, I just had to make a blog challenge out of it. I spent all week eating this stuff so maybe you won’t have to, hoping to discover whether adding pumpkin spice to a product improves it or ruins it. Here are the results of my extensive study.
In case you’re in need of a one-stop pumpkin spice dealer, you probably can’t go wrong with either Target or Trader Joe’s. No shortage there. In fact, I think I exercised great restraint (mostly because none of it was tempting to me). These products were so good, I might even consider buying them again. I mean next year, though, because after this week, I need a year to cleanse my palate.
Archer Farms Pumpkin Pancake Mix (Target): Delicious with a little bit of syrup and a whole lot of whipped cream. I was introduced to this years ago and I still like it.
Thomas’ Pumpkin Spice Bagels: Nice, mellow pumpkin spice flavor. I like them toasted with plain cream cheese.
Keebler Fudge Stripe (Pumpkin Spice): These surprised me because not only did they not make me gag, but I found myself actually wanting more. My kids really liked them too, especially because of the white chocolate.
Pumpkin Crunch Cake: Not really a product, but this recipe was really good. I’m not sure about the walnut/pecan combination though – I’ll probably go all pecan next time. Served with whipped cream.
The next category includes food that didn’t make me gag but that I probably won’t buy again – stuff that left me wondering why.
UM, OKAY, I GUESS
Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Granola (Target): I mostly liked this because I wasn’t overwhelmed by pumpkinyness and I always like granola, but I can’t see myself craving more.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn: I always like a good caramel corn, and I liked the addition of pumpkin seeds, but the pumpkin spice was a little too strong for me.
Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal and Frosted Mini Wheats: I just couldn’t see the point. With the Mini Wheats, I couldn’t really tell much of a difference, and I just felt like they ruined a perfectly good batch of Cinnamon Life by adding pumpkin spice.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter: I feel like I’m the only one in my family not obsessed with cookie butter, so I can’t tell if I’d like it more or less if I had strong feelings about the original. I liked the pumpkin kind as much as I do the original (meh), but I’m tempted to add some vanilla ice cream and make a milkshake. That just might bump it up in my estimation.
The final category includes all my regrets from this week. It does not include all the things I flat out refused to try – recipes and products that triggered my childhood gag reflex associated with pumpkin puree texture, color, or smell. I stayed far away from foods I could tell might make me puke but there were still some unexpected surprises.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Soup: I usually like their soups and I’ve had some very delicious pumpkin soups, especially in Bali, but this was just not good. I think pumpkin works when it’s either sweet or savory. This soup was just confused.
Pumpkin Spice Oreos: I suspected I would not like these and I was right. The taste is okay, but they tried to make the color of the filling resemble pumpkin pie, and something about that color and texture combined gave me dark feelings.
Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies: I love Milanos, plain or mint, so I had high hopes for these. Maybe that’s why I felt so betrayed when I bit into these waxy things. It just felt so wrong. How did these make it past market research? Just because you can do something, that doesn’t mean you should, Pepperidge Farm.
Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles: So much work, so little payoff. These were a pain to make and they resulted in gigantic cookies I felt like all the milk in the world couldn’t wash down. I love snickerdoodles and my kids love snickerdoodles, but these sat mostly uneaten for several days before I finally threw them out.
Have you ever noticed that, for the most part, pumpkin spice recipes/products are really only good if you add enough cream cheese, whipped cream, or white chocolate? Maybe our obsession with pumpkin spice really just reflects society’s very basic, very real need for more cream cheese frosting. Or maybe we should ask ourselves: if we have to pile on sweet cream to mask the flavor of our food, should we really be eating that food in the first place? I think there is a time and a place for everything, including pumpkin pie. Let’s keep it in November where it belongs, the way the pilgrims intended!