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Welcome to A Pumpkin A Day, our new series highlighting the finest in fake pumpkin flavors! Beginning mid-September and running through whenever grocery stores and cafes stop selling pumpkin flavored seasonal treats, we’ll highlight one pointlessly pumpkin product per day.

‘Tis the season for the ubiquitous return of all things pumpkin spice for the next couple of months until everything magically turns peppermint overnight. As is my right and duty as a young American woman, I am going to taste test and arbitrarily rate every pumpkin spice product I can get my hands on.

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Up first is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn feat. pumpkin seeds and walnuts (allegedly). They make some heavy claims on the bag and really try to play up the aesthetics of fall. But I know better than to simply trust what is written on a shiny orange bag. I’m gonna let the taste do the talking.img_6479-jpg

Expectations

  • I expect this to be overly sweet like a 5 on the diabetes scale (lose one foot).
  • It’ll probably taste like someone dumped a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon on regular caramel corn.

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I opened the bag for a sniff and it smelled like a weaker version of Panera’s pumpkin muffin, which is neither good nor bad.

Taste Test

  • No strong flavor, mostly just tastes crunchy
  • On my second bite it tastes a bit like fall, I guess pumpkin spice is really ingrained in me as the feel of fall.
  • Not as sickly sweet. I was expecting to lose a foot to diabetes, but this just makes me think I’ll wear a compression sock if I eat this all fall. But fortunately I don’t want to eat this all fall.
  • My main qualm is with the claim that there is a “generous” portion of walnuts in the bag but I found zero walnuts. That’s pretty fucking selfish, Trader Joe’s.
  • It doesn’t live up to the claim that it takes me back to homecoming games, but that may be because my high school didn’t have homecoming games so I’ve never been. That said, the popcorn doesn’t really transport me.

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Ratings

Pumpkin Essence: 2. Basically no pumpkin, just spice. And very little of that.

Mouthfeel: 8. Feels how I want caramel corn to feel in my mouth. Solid crunch factor.

Right to exist: 3. Really doesn’t need to.

Feel of fall: 4. There is something inherently fall-ish in spicy, sugary snacks.

Maybe it’s not fair for me to be judging this as I’m kind of a popcorn obsessive so I have high standards. This does not meet the standards. It’s fine. I’m fine with the fact that I ate 25 kernels, but I wish it was one of those massive tubs of 3 flavors that everyone’s aunt sends them. No need to stray from classic caramel, butter and cheese corn. No need. Also the pumpkin seeds are totally lost in all the general crunchiness, and they have no flavor at all anyway so they were basically useless.

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