Pumpkin Spiced Out?

Twinkies, dog shampoo, Spam, Pringles and hummus. What do all of these things have in common? They come in pumpkin spiced flavoring. Pumpkin spice doesn’t start and end with Starbucks’s famous latte. The science of psychology and the business statistics back up why we are on such a pumpkin spice pursuit. There may be no limit to what may be the next pumpkin spiced product, and our newspaper class collectively tried and ranked several of these food products currently on Aldi’s shelves (and a Walmart pie).

Image result for pumpkin spice meme

Pumpkin psychology

It seems that nowadays we are seeing more pumpkin spiced flavored items enter grocery store shelves the further we get into the fall season. The pumpkin spice obsession started back when Starbucks released the pumpkin spice latte, or the #PSL, back in 2014. Since it debuted, Starbucks has sold more than 200 million of the drinks, and with the profits came business potential. Pumpkin spice deodorant, anyone?   

The reason people are obsessed with pumpkin spice around the fall season is not because of the taste, but could be because of the smell. Dr. John McGann, a sensory neuroscientist at Rutgers department of psychology, talks about how it is all due to our olfactory system that makes people hooked on the pumpkin spice craze. 

Image result for pumpkin spice meme

While we smell the drink, our brain connects it with our past experiences and memories. Most senses pass through the thalamus first but smell goes straight to the olfactory bulb. 

“About 70 percent of our [perception] of taste is retronasal smell and then maybe 25 percent of it is true taste: salty, bitter, sweet. But there also additional components: the feeling of creaminess, which really contributes to a perception of flavor [and entails] your sense of touch. Then there’s an additional sense of pungency, [as in] the burning feeling of pepper from hot wings. That’s your trigeminal system. So, your brain is putting all of these things together.” Dr. John McGann said.  

Many brands try to pump out pumpkin spice flavored products. These products sell more because of the past memories the things tie into the lives of the people that buy them and that’s why the obsession keeps growing. 

Pumpkin business is booming

This chart indicates profits for pumpkin products. [Photo Credit: Forbes]

According to Forbes.com, the pumpkin spice industry in 2018 was worth more than $600 million in the market. Items such as pumpkin spiced ice cream, pumpkin pie filling, and obviously Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte contribute the most to this growing industry. Wedbush restaurant analyst Nick Setyan stated that, “the introduction of a pumpkin spice product can certainly provide a one-time incremental sales lift.” 

Our product tests ranked worst to best

We only sampled a few of what Aldi currently offers in pumpkin spice flavoring. Similar product types can be found at almost any grocery store.

15. Pumpkin Spice Cream CheeseWorst

Something happened to this recipe since Aldi produced it as a whipped version–which tasted like pumpkin pie on a bagel. This was something nightmarish.

  • Jannet: Cream Cheese has always been something I’ve enjoyed on a bagel or even a spoon. But trying a pumpkin spice cream cheese has ruined cream cheese for me entirely. Never have I ever tasted something so monstrous in my mouth.The taste of moldy cheese and the aftertaste left me gagging with building bile in my mouth. At first taste, the cream cheese, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, but then as you it melts into your mouth the disgusting flavor of pumpkin ruins it as if rotting pumpkin stench invades your senses.  
  • Hali Uh no. Today I died inside. R.I.P. Hali Ann Coombs, Oct. 9, 2002 – Oct. 7, 2019 
  • Ms. Teasley: This cream cheese has changed dramatically from last year. It seems like it, too, is changing away from just being another form of pumpkin pie to something more unique. However, it tastes like eating straight up butter with a horrible aftertaste of anything but cream cheese—almost a soured savory flavor that should not belong on a bagel or anything else. Do not make your cheesecake with this, folks.

14. Greek Yogurt— Next worse

Short answer: no one who tried it liked it.

Aldi’s Greek pumpkin yogurt. They also feature other fall flavors.
  • Ms. Teasley: I like Greek yogurt. All Greek yogurt has a sour taste, but this yogurt is especially sour. This may differ by brand. I had this same yogurt last year, but this year it seems they cut down on their sugar drastically, and I don’t care for it. Last year, it tasted like pumpkin pie filling.
  • Kayla: I have never liked Greek yogurt, and this one did not change my opinion.

13. Pumpkin Cheerios– Slowly getting better

  • Hali BORING! This is the plain Jane of the Pumpkin Spice family. It’s like the Addams Family–except one of them was a VSCO Girl. Instead of snapping she would just SHAKE HER HYDROFLASK. 
  • Nyasia: The cheerios? they don’t really have any taste, I felt like I ate a bubble in a bubble. Completely no taste.  
  • Dominic: It’s no different than normal cheerios, it still tastes like chewing on crunchy cardboard.

11 & 12. Chipotle Pumpkin & Pumpkin Butternut Pasta Sauces (tie)

Aldi and other stores offer a number of pumpkin sauces from BBQ, to pasta sauces, and salsas.

Pumpkin Butternut

  • Ms. Teasley: This sauce has a sweet, Chef Boyardee flavor that has been drenched in garlic. The pumpkin flavor is overwhelmed in other flavors. The only thing pumpkin it retains is color and sweetness.
  • Layla: This sauce went super good with the ravioli. I don’t like squash at all, but it was pretty good with the ravioli. It went well together.

Pumpkin Chipotle

  • Layla: I liked the other one better for sure. I do not think it went with the ravioli. 
  • Teasley: This sauce is a nightmare of inconsistencies. It’s spicy, sour, and sweet all at the same time. The chipotle is strong. 
  • Parker: This was disgusting, tasted like a warm nasty salsa.

10: Pumpkin Ravioli

Short answer: pumpkin pie filling in a ravioli pocket.

  • Nyasia: The Ravioli? UGH. I felt like I was going to throw up like a volcano exploding with lava and fire. Rating this with a fat -1 
  • Layla: It is not as bad as I thought it would be, I thought it would be disgusting but it was pretty good to me. It tasted like a regular ravioli. I’d give it a 9/10.

9.  Pumpkin spreadable cheese

This type of product is ideal for crackers.
  • Alek: The cheese was actually really good. I feel like if we had eaten it with crackers instead of just straight cheese it would have been better. If it was sitting out at a party, I would most likely eat it but I would never go out and buy it myself. 7/10 
  • Parker: The cheese was so nasty; it was warm and whipped and reminded me of peanut butter but way worse.  
  • Kayla: I really don’t know how I feel about the cheese. It truly did not even taste like cheese at all.
  • Hali I haven’t even tried this stuff yet and I’m scared. Seeing the disgust on the faces of my peers terrifies me. OH BOY. I DIED A SECOND TIME. R.I.P ME AGAIN. I’M CHUGGING WATER FROM MY PASTEL PINK WATER BOTTLE. LORD SAVE ME FROM THIS SIN 

8. Pumpkin Caramel Popcorn

Alek: It tasted nothing of pumpkin spice. It tasted like normal caramel corn and it was actually pretty good. Would eat again

7. Pumpkin Shaped Belgian Chocolates (turned out not to be PS flavor)

  • Hali It tastes like a crunch bar. I really expected more. Like this is supposed to be Pumpkin spice chocolate! So, either I’m taste blind or it’s not pumpkin spice enough! Where’s the fall spin? IT’S NON-EXISTANCE. 5/10 not pumpkin tasting. BUT if you want cute little pumpkin chocolate decorations for your fall feast, 10/10 IT’S TOO CUTE!!!! 
  • Layla: It wasn’t my type of chocolate. Personally, I did not like it AT ALL. It had too much of a pumpkin taste to me, and the chocolate and pumpkin did not mix well at all in my stomach. It tasted like the cheap chocolate you can get on Easter

6. Straight up pumpkin pie

The only Walmart product purchased.
  • Yuliani: The pumpkin pie was eh alright. The only good thing out of it was the crustt. When I took of bite of it, it kind of tasted like corn and a mix of tortilla. That’s what it tastes like in my opinion. 
  • Nyasia: I am honestly in heaven with this pie, why can’t I me marry it? 
  • Alek: The pumpkin pie was not good. I usually love pumpkin pie, but this one was below average. If it was fresh, maybe I would not have thrown it in the trash.
  • Kayla: This was probably one of the worst pumpkin pies that I have ever had. I don’t know if it was because it was cold or something else, but I didn’t like it. I am disappointed in this pumpkin pie. I recommend the one from Sam’s Club.
  • Ms. Teasley: What is wrong with everyone..it’s awesome! Try making it yourself…it’s hard.

5. Pumpkin Soup (like a chili)

This was one of the best-liked products, though it appeared unappealing.
  • Pro Soup: Kelsey: The soup was actually really good, I could most definitely eat this for dinner.
  • Con Soup: Nyasia: Don’t even ask about the soup, I felt like SpongeBob dancing when he said “Who put you on the planet? UGH!!!”  rated as a fat –1 

4. Thin Style Pumpkin Cookies (Stringfellow’s Pick)

  • Hali WOw, this is a lot better than I expected! I can sit in the classroom and close my eyes and suddenly I’m in a fall forest and not in a classroom of kids screaming about pumpkin spice soup. A refreshing spin on pumpkin spice
  • Dominic: The aftertaste was too strong. it was too much pumpkin spice and left my mouth tasting gross 
  • Ms. Teasley: I love these cookies. They are light, airy, and not too overwhelming in flavor. I feel the ginger and pumpkin are working well together like a little cookie dance.  
  • Kayla: These cookies were really good. They were probably my favorite.

3. Pumpkin pretzels

  • Dominic: Nice blend of sweet and salty, the pretzels are a 10/10 
  • Jannet: The pretzels were amazing with the perfect amount of pumpkin and saltiness in there.
  • Parker: these were amazing, they had a perfect amount of everything in them.  
  • Hali I can’t tell if I like it or not. Like it’s good, but it’s not? This is the most confusing experience I’ve had in my 16 (almost 17!!) years of living on this planet Earth. It’s like that one meme of that girl who looked shocked at first and then realized she liked it. That’s me. I don’t know if I want to continue eating them or not. 5/10??? I think?  

2. Pumpkin cupcakes (the almost-favorite)

  • Layla: The cupcake tasted amazing; I knew I was going to like it before I even tried it. It was my favorite out of all the things I tried today. If I saw these in a store, I would definitely want to get them. 
  • Dominic: Only the frosting tasted good, the actual cupcake had too strong of a taste. 
  • Alek: The cupcake was average. The frosting was probably the best thing about the whole thing. It had a weird strip of pumpkin spice flavored gelatin (?) on top that was disgusting. Overall, it is probably a 7/10. 
  • Nyasia: The cupcake had an amazing look to it and made me float like a ghost to it and munch it in my face. But it doesn’t beet the pie under any circumstances.  
  • Kayla: The cupcake tasted good, but I think that the frosting was too strong and overpowered the cupcake itself.

#1: The best product we tried: Pumpkin spice ready-to-drink latte

Pros:

  • Nyasia: Not ever having any latte before and feeling disgusted by a pumpkin spice flavor it tasted amazingly good to me. I feel at peace with it 
  • Yuliani- The latte omg tastes so good, it has a remarkable taste, I really loved the taste at first when I saw the bottle I thought I was going to be disgusting but its actually really good, I’m in love.     
  • Alek: The latte was amazing, I don’t care what anyone else says. I would spend good money on that coffee and I will be seeking this out. The pumpkin spice flavor was not bitter nor overpowering. It tasted like if I had went back in time to when I used to rake up leaves to jump in them in the crisp autumn air.
  • Jannet: the latte was amazing, the bitter taste of the espresso and the sweet flavor of the pumpkin was the perfect combination. 
  • Kayla: the latte was amazing. I still think that the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is a lot better.

Cons:

  •  Kelsey: This latte is like a bitter sweet melted ice cream. This is the most disgusting type of coffee. It’s nasty as fork rate: 1/10. 
  • Layla: The latte was VERY bitter, and did not taste sweet at all, and it was kind of disgusting. Other people might like it, but I like my coffee super sweet, so it was not my type. The Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Latte is better for sure, and I would rather drink that than this. It tasted like coffee that had been sitting out for days.

Are we going too far?

Pumpkin Spice has definitely gone too far. A line needs to be drawn by all these pumpkin spice flavored things. There are many, many different things with the pumpkin spice flavor such as chocolate, baked goods, hot drinks, cold drinks, cream cheese, pretzels, cereal and even chicken wings.

 Pumpkin spice chicken wings are a big no. That is just way too far. Cereal is okay, but chicken wings?? NO. In this article, they compare the pumpkin spice to other condiments saying it is not a condiment like ketchup or BBQ sauce. It almost seems like we are pushing the border of what can be and what can’t be pumpkin spice flavored.  

The opinions of a lover of all fall things:

Parker Modica loves the fall, but what about all of the pumpkin craze?

Does pumpkin spice get you kick started for the season? Pumpkin spice latte season is here, but you don’t need to grab a coffee for the full experience. There are plenty of other tasty treats such as pumpkin soup for a cold fall day or for a good snack on the couch while watching a movie grab a bag of pumpkin spice flavored yogurt covered pretzels. I am super fall obsessed so when I see these items on the shelf I think “WOW fall is here!” Seeing pumpkin spice items on the shelf in grocery stores gets me so ready for it to feel like fall.  

Tell us what your opinions are on these products or the craziest pumpkin-flavored product you’ve tried!

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