Regardless of your thoughts on Pumpkin Spice Lattes—and we know you have plenty of them—you have to begrudgingly resent their staying power. And that’s because the nebulous flavor we know as “Pumpkin Spice,” with its notes of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, is innately comforting. (So long as you can taste those spices underneath all the added sugar.)
Many gimmicky products have been released to capitalize on fall’s favorite flavor, everything from pumpkin spice turkey to pumpkin spice Nissin Cup Noodles. The biggest surprise, though, is that some of these products actually turn out to be a slam dunk. Here, today, we praise some unlikely champions in the pumpkin spice space.
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are definitively the greatest of all known Cheerios in our Cheerio-shaped universe. Normally when I eat cereal, I follow a well-choreographed system I developed that ensures I never have to deal with single soggy cereal bit (which are crimes against breakfast), but Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are an exception to my rigid set of rules. Here’s the right way to eat it: fill a bowl halfway up with cereal, pour in enough whole milk to cover by at least one inch, add a splash (or more) of half-and-half if you’ve got some, then wait two minutes and give it a stir. The pumpkin spice coating mixes with the milk and tastes just like pumpkin custard, and the Cheerios don’t get too soggy. Put ’em both together and you’ve got a breakfast pumpkin pie that’s heart healthy to boot. —Allison Robicelli, staff writer
Pillsbury Grands! Pumpkin Spice Rolls
Pillsbury Grands can do no wrong. A classic cinnamon roll on the first day of school when you’re 10 years old and excited to debut your newly crimped hair? Exquisite. An orange roll enjoyed on Christmas morning while your kid brother greedily rips into his new dart board? Delicious. A pumpkin-spice-flavored cinnamon roll with pumpkin spice icing eaten just as the autumn leaves are beginning to change? Unparalleled. Unparalleled pleasure.
These rolls are divinely sweet, perfectly gooey, and lightly spiced for a complex seasonal breakfast experience. If you’d prefer to go easy on the pumpkin spice, you can also swap the pumpkin icing out for regular Pillsbury cinnamon roll icing—or forgo the icing altogether. Pillsbury’s Pumpkin Spice Rolls are the store-bought equivalent of piping hot pumpkin bread. Plus, they release that satisfying hissss when you pop open the container. What could be more delicious? (Quick note: these are technically labeled as a “limited edition” product, but they’re available at all major grocery retailers per the Pillsbury website.) —Lillian Stone, staff writer
Pumpkin Spice Spam
Yes, you read that correctly. Pumpkin Spice Spam. You’re probably not going to see this in person anytime soon, because Pumpkin Spice Spam was an extremely limited-edition product that came out in 2019 as a cheeky move by Hormel. It sold out in mere hours, but a friend heard my plight and let me have a few cans that she’d managed to snag. This was well before my time at The Takeout, so I didn’t get to share my experience with you back then, but I can now!
I’m referring back to some old notes, in which I described the odor of the pan-fried Pumpkin Spice Spam as akin to “a meated Yankee Candle.” After my first bite, I hated it, precisely because it tasted like “a meated Yankee Candle.”
My fiancée was much kinder and described it as tasting like a “Christmas ham.” But even though our thoughts differed on the matter back then, I have to say that absence must make the heart grow fonder for Pumpkin Spice Spam, because for some reason, it sounds really good right now. And I actually have one can left, sitting in the pantry. Hopefully it’s still good. —Dennis Lee, staff writer