Trader Joe’s Fall Food Review: taking on pumpkin spice

Ava Bruce, Taryn Coulson, and Naiya Gates

As the days get colder, many find comfort in the warmth of fall flavors such as pumpkin spice or apple-cinnamon. The Lake Oswego Trader Joe’s did not disappoint in that department as their fall foods array was very full, with orange, pumpkin-food labels dominating every aisle. Trader Joe’s is actually known for having an amazing fall food selection, from pumpkin bagels to pumpkin curry to pumpkin pasta. We decided to put Trader Joe’s to the test to see if it really lives up to all the hype. We rated 10 of their items 1-10; with our very qualified culinary backgrounds, we were merciless with the critiques.

Gates, Coulson and Bruce pose for a quick picture after securing the goods at Trader Joe’s. They shopped for some fall items, mostly consisting of fall’s classic Pumpkin Spice flavor. Photo by Ava Bruce.

Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Slims:

Ava Bruce’s rating: 7 – more white chocolate flavor than pumpkin spice

Naiya Gates’s rating: 8 – the sweet and salty ratio was super good

Taryn Coulson’s rating: 7.5 – needs more pumpkin flavor

Pumpkin Biscotti:

Ava’s rating: 8 – tastes like pumpkin pie

Naiya’a rating: 7 – extra sweet pumpkin flavor

Taryn’s rating: 7 – right amount of crunch


Pumpkin Ice Cream:

Ava’s rating: 6.5 – too much of a resemblance to eggnog

Naiya’s rating: 8.5 – eggnog vibes

Taryn’s rating: 6 – not enough pumpkin

Mini Spicy Pumpkin Samosas:

Ava’s rating: 4.5 – wobbly and still softish

Naiya’s rating: 6 – like a soggy eggroll

Taryn’s rating: 5 – lacking pumpkin after spice

They arranged the fall food items to showcase their haul. This was minutes before they found their new fall favorites. Photo by Ava Bruce.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Ginger Brew:

Ava’s rating: 2 – tastes like barely fizzy tea

Naiya’s rating: 3 – overpowering ginger flavor

Taryn’s rating: 2 – something I would drink when I was sick

Pumpkin Spice Granola Bark:

Ava’s rating: 5  – tastes like a generic granola bar

Naiya’s rating: 3  – too much dark chocolate

Taryn’s rating: 6 – pumpkin to chocolate ratio was unbalanced

Pepita salsa w/ leaf shaped tortilla chips: 

Ava’s rating: 7 – very creamy salsa

Naiya’s rating: 8 – has a nice tanginess

Taryn’s rating: 8 – kick at the end!

Pumpkin Bagel (untoasted, plain):

Ava’s rating: 7 – pumpkin flavor is too subtle

Naiya’s rating: 3 – bland by itself

Taryn’s rating: 6 – pumpkin chunks inside are unappetizing

Pumpkin Butter:

Ava’s rating: 2 – tastes like straight pumpkin puree

Naiya’s rating: 5.5 – the consistency of jam

Taryn’s rating: 6 – tastes really sweet

Pumpkin Joe-Joes:

Ava’s rating: 8 – you can taste the pumpkin but it is not too overpowering

Naiya’s rating: 5 – a little bit too sweet

Taryn’s rating: 8 – tastes like graham cracker Goldfish

After tasting and rating all of the fall foods, we each had our own opinion on which was the best one. This was definitely a tough decision for all of us! Ava picked the pumpkin biscotti as her favorite.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of biscotti, so when I tried this, I wasn’t expecting much. After I tasted it, though, I realized it was one of my favorites. The pumpkin flavor was so good and it tasted just like pumpkin pie, which was amazing,” Bruce  said.

Along with Bruce, Gates also chose a sweet food item.

   “Even though I typically gravitate towards savory items, I could not stop thinking about the Pumpkin Ice Cream all night. It was so creamy and smooth and definitely reminded me of fall!” Gates said. 

Because all three of us ate almost the entire jar, I think it’s safe to say that the Pepita Salsa also deserves a high rating. Coulson decided this one was the best by far. 

“While I did enjoy most of the items we tried, my favorite would definitely be the Pepita Salsa. After hearing so much about it, I knew we had to try it, and I’m so glad we did. 10/10 recommend!” Coulson said. 

Clearly, we are very experienced in the world of food tasting and we did not go easy on Trader Joe’s. Most of the food we tried was so, so good, but we were harsh because we wanted to make sure that we were completely honest with our reviews. 

Trader Joe’s has a huge selection of fall-flavored treats, especially pumpkin. Some of the foods they carry wouldn’t traditionally be pumpkin flavored, but if you venture outside of your food comfort zone, you might be pleasantly surprised.