The big annual autumn event always used to be the return of Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte — but now that trophy has been seized by Trader Joe's.
The California-based specialty grocer has unveiled a lengthy lineup of 2020 pumpkin-y foodstuffs, which have now arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth stores.
Meanwhile, poor PSL's twitter account hasn't even been updated since 2018.
Trader Joe's already has a dedicated following. Combine that with the intoxicating influence of cinnamon and nutmeg and you have a serious shopping event on your hands.
Pumpkin-flavored products may feel saturated but that's because the interest never flags: Consumption of pumpkin products has increased annually for at least five years.
"You may have wondered how we are able to produce so many high-quality, pro-pumpkin products—pumpkin cookies, pumpkin pie, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, pumpkin crackers, pumpkin curry," TJ's says in their flyer. They've even created "Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Product Machine," a cute video cartoon of their so-called pumpkin assembly line.
The company enjoyed success with previous classics like Pumpkin Bread Mix and Apple Cider Donuts and have increased their inventory of pumpkin and fall-themed items.
According to a Trader Joe's spokesperson, they've introduced about 100 fall products in total and about one fifth of those are new.
Here's some of the best new stuff landing in DFW stores right now:
Cinnamon Bun Cookies - soft-baked cinnamon & brown sugar cookies with cinnamon-bun flavored cream filling, said to be "extraordinarily evocative of freshly-baked cinnamon buns."
Maple Streusel Bread - like an amped-up cinnamon bread, with icing and crumbly streusel on top, that almost makes it seem more like cake than bread.
Maple Oat Beverage - maple is a popular theme in the 2020 lineup, and this new beverage is another exhibit. This nondairy drink has the thick creamy texture you get from oat milk, but with an authentic maple flavor, thanks to the addition of U.S. harvested maple syrup. It's almost rich enough to be desserty.
Pumpkin Spice Batons - delicate rolled wafers, usually filled with chocolate, but these are filled with a pumpkin-spiced cream. At nearly seven inches long, they're hefty, too.
Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Slims - extra-thin pretzels covered in a pumpkin spice-infused yogurt coating, dotted with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds and real bits of lemon peel. Salty, sweet, crunchy, pumpkin-y.
Pumpkin Empanadas - flaky crescent-shaped pastry filled with generously spiced pumpkin puree. These are frozen; you heat in an oven for 15 minutes and serve. They're 5 inches wide and 160 calories each, and come four to a package.
Pumpkin Samosas - Indian-inspired appetizer is a small a golden, flaky, triangular pastry filled with pumpkin and myriad spices – including garam masala, cumin, coriander, chile powder, and fennel seeds – plus paneer cheese and chunks of pumpkin.
Ginger-Turmeric Granola - clusters of rolled oats, oat flakes, and little brown rice crisps, bound together with brown rice syrup and sweetened with cane sugar. Even if you don't like granola, this is dangerous, because of the unusual flavor profile: spicy and not too sweet, thanks to the incorporation of turmeric, often used in Indian food, but with little darts of heat from the bits of candied ginger.
They have a quartet of spreads, all returning from last year, and all worth consideration:
Apple Cider Fruit Spread - This is an update of a prior product which truthfully might have been better, last year's Apple Cider Jam. This year they went with a spread, made with apple cider and a more diverse array of spices that include cinnamon, clove, ginger, and cardamom. The texture is more runny and less jammy, but it does still have the key item that made last year's so good: tender chunks of sweet apples.
Cinnamon Bun Spread - WARNING: Proceed with caution if you're vulnerable to cinnamon, cinnamon buns, butter, or cream. It has honey, butter, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. All the flavors of a cinnamon bun in a sauce.
Pumpkin Butter - pumpkin butter is a commonly found item at farmers markets. It does not actually contain butter. It's like a concentrated fruit spread, but not too sweet. TJ's contains honey so it's not vegan.
Maple Spread - This is Vermont organic maple syrup, whipped until it becomes a creamy, slightly sticky spread. When you spread it on something warm like toast, it kind of melts, and the maple flavor is incredible.
Big winners from prior years include:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Mix - you add butter and egg for a chewy oatmeal cookie that's tinted orange from pumpkin, and spiced with nutmeg, allspice, and clove
Pumpkin Joe-Joe's - pumpkin version of TJ's Oreo-like sandwich cookie, with two chocolate wafers enclosing a creamy pumpkin filling
Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps - crispy little crackers with a savory pumpkin flavor offset by sweet bits of cranberry
Pumpkin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds - hulled pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas, very high in protein, btw) roasted with butter-sugar, toffee glaze, and seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Cruchy, sweet, savory, addictive
Pumpkin Ale - pumpkin flavored beer, remember when that used to be a big deal?
Autumnal Harvest Pasta Sauce - bottled pasta sauce made with pumpkin and butternut squash, it's like a tawny, tasty version of a tomato sauce.
Honeycrisp apple candle - a 5.7-ounce candle in a lidded tin, scented with the aroma of fresh Honeycrisp apples, along with a hint of pear blossom, for $3.99, which is a steal.
Plus pumpkin waffles, plus pumpkin cheerios, plus pumpkin-spiced coffee, plus pumpkin ice cream ...