Despite the fact that in many parts of the country the weather is hotter than ever, there’s a telltale sign that fall is indeed coming: pumpkin spice is here. Every year it seems to re-emerge on menus and grocery shelves earlier and earlier—the many press releases sent to The Takeout indicate that a whole batch of autumnal products will be available by the end of August.
And although plenty of us will get our kicks heading to Twitter and complaining about how it’s too soon for pumpkin spice, a flavor once maligned as basic, this is a safe space and we can all admit here and now that we secretly love it. Pumpkin spice can be great! That doesn’t mean everything should be pumpkin-ified, however, so let us give you a rundown of some highlights of the season and help you decipher what’s worth your time and what’s gone too far.
Want to be a professional Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice product taster?
First, a job opportunity: If you want to be the one telling people which products are worthwhile and which are not, then perhaps FinanceBuzz’s Pumpkin Spice Pundit position is the dream role for you. In yet another instance of a somewhat gimmicky job that allows you to get paid to eat, the FinanceBuzz opening would entail tasting all of Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored items and giving a full report on each. In exchange, you’ll get a $500 gift card to cover the cost of the food and $1,000 for a job well done.
Trader Joe’s has yet to release its full lineup of “Pumpkin Palooza” offerings, but one Reddit post indicates that we should be expecting some gourd-inspired dishes on TJ’s shelves in the next 30 days or so.
Where to get pumpkin spice lattes, beyond Starbucks
You can never go wrong with a pumpkin spice latte—the coffee beverage is, after all, the originator of the craze surrounding this fall flavor. You can already get your fix at 7-Eleven, which launched its fall drinks on August 5.
On August 17, Dunkin’s line of pumpkin drinks will drop, including the classic Pumpkin Spice Latte, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew, and brand-new Nutty Pumpkin Coffee.
Starbucks hasn’t officially announced when the PSL will be back on the menu, but an Instagram post from food blogger Markie Devo suggests it will be August 30, which is in line with when the drink was released last year.
There haven’t yet been rumblings of the PSL’s return at chains that had the drink on their menus last year—McDonald’s, Panera, Tim Hortons, Caribou Coffee, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and more remain mum on the subject—but it’s safe to say that by the time September rolls around we’ll be lousy with places to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte.
The pumpkin spice treats we have to try
When perusing this year’s pumpkinified offerings, there are some that instantly had me salivating, things that just make sense:
- Dairy Queen Pumpkin Pie Blizzard Treat: According to a press release sent to The Takeout, you can expect this creamy delight on DQ menus starting August 29.
- Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding & Pie Filling: In just five minutes I can make my own pumpkin pie filling and dig in without all that pesky crust? Sign me up.
- Krispy Kreme Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts: The collection features four varieties of doughnuts, each tastier sounding than the last. There’s the Pumpkin Spice Latte Swirl Doughnut, the Pumpkin Spice Original Glazed® Doughnut, the Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut, and the Pumpkin Spice Original Filled Cheesecake Doughnut, which, yes, is blessedly a ring-shaped donut filled with a ring of cheesecake.
- Pumpkin Spice Oreos: These are returning for the first time since 2017, and thank god for that. For someone like me who doesn’t like chocolate, the use of golden cookies to contain the pumpkin spice creme in the middle is perfect.
- Whitehouse Station Pumpkin Spice Habanero: A pumpkin spice hot sauce? Crazy enough that it just might work. We’ll see.
Boring but reliable pumpkin-flavored items
Not everything is going to excite us like a pumpkin doughnut filled with cheesecake, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still casually enjoy a fall-infused treat every once in a while. These will hit the spot for breakfast, lunch, dessert, or a nice little snack when you’re craving some pumpkin flavor:
- Coffee Mate Pumpkin Spice Creamer: For when you don’t want to leave the house for that PSL.
- Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice Cookie Dough: Perfect for whipping up a dessert to bring to fall potlucks.
- Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Special K: Start your day with a pumpkin-loaded breakfast.
- Samuel Adams Jack-O: A mix of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg with just a hint of citrus, this beer is already on shelves and can tide you over until your favorite local brewery drops its Oktoberfest brew.
- Siggi’s Pumpkin and Spice Skyr: Consider this the lighter version of eating pumpkin pie filling straight.
- Swiss Miss Pumpkin Spice Cocoa: This is for the non-caffeine drinkers who want to get in on the PSL craze.
- Voortman Pumpkin Spice Wafers: A perfectly inoffensive bite of pumpkin infused into a wafer made for dipping in your coffee.
Why the hell is there pumpkin spice in this?
Sometimes a food trend can go too far, crossing over from the edible to the inedible. Too much of a good thing can ruin the fun for everyone. These are those things.
- Burt’s Bees Pumpkin Spice Lip Balm: Sure, we like the flavor, but do we want it to be on our lips 24/7? Not so much.
- Glade Spray Pumpkin Spice Things Up: Will a layer of pumpkin spice odor really cover up the weird smells in your house? Or will it just confuse your senses even more?
- Native Pumpkin Spice Latte Deodorant: Nothing like getting your sweat on in the gym only to make everyone around you hungry for dessert.
- Pumpkin Spice Nissin Cup Noodles: Our 2021 review of these bad boys really says it all: “I don’t want these noodles to taste any closer to a pumpkin spice latte . . . That said, I don’t want the noodles to taste the way they currently do.”
Proceed with caution this pumpkin spice season—it’s really only just beginning, and there are all manner of wonders and horrors that may be announced on menus and grocery lineups over the next two months. But when you find something you like, never hesitate to proudly declare your love for pumpkin spice. Ignore the haters; this is your moment.