Hey guys! Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. It’s our Halloween episode, and we’re celebrating in costume and rating all things Pumpkin Spice.
We can all admit that 2020 has been a year that no one could have predicted. However, there seems to be one event that even 2020 couldn’t cancel: Pumpkin Spice Season. There are a ton of Pumpkin Spice products on the market, including treats, snacks, coffee creamers, cereals, dog treats, lip balm, and more.
Full disclosure — we’re not big fans of Pumpkin Spice. We’ll do our best to give you our unbiased opinion, and hopefully this episode saves you a bit of time and money as we unveil the very best and worst of Pumpkin Spice products. If you want to watch the full video — and check out our awesome Halloween costumes — click here.
We tried more than 20 different products in this episode in a rapid-fire test of all-things Pumpkin Spice. Definitely check out the video to see the full breadth and depth of everything we tried. In this post, we’ll share just a few of the ones we thought were remarkable. You can find all the products we’re highlighting on Amazon — although some may be seasonal:
First, we’ll tell you a little about the origins of Pumpkin Spice, and then dive into our take on these ten PS-themed products.
Let’s go through a little background information on Pumpkin Spice and its origins. Contrary to what the name suggests, there’s no pumpkin in Pumpkin Spice. The “spice” from the name derives from a combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
Originally sold as “Pumpkin Pie Spice” in the 1960s, the delectable and downright delicious flavor combination was an immediate hit. Though Pumpkin Spice was already a common product, it didn’t see the meteoric rise to fandom until Starbucks released its seasonal drink, the “Pumpkin Spice Latte” in 2003.
Many people think that Starbucks invented the #PSL, but actually the first instance of pumpkin spice coffee comes from Home Roast Coffee in Tampa, Florida, in 1996. Shoutout to the many other coffee companies that paved the way for Starbucks to blow up the scene with this incredibly popular drink! The Pumpkin Spice market encompassed nearly $500 million in revenue in 2018 and is projected to continue growing. All this for a product that doesn’t even contain pumpkin…
Pumpkin Spice is now a popular flavor for dozens upon dozens of products. We tried more than 20 different Pumpkin Spice products in this video — watch the whole thing go down here. Without further ado, let’s dive into the ten Pumpkin Spice products worth talking about.
There are quite a number of pumpkin spice-themed breakfast foods on the market, from waffle and pancake mix to something called a “Pumpkin Spice Baton.” Since cereal is an all-day food, we’re going to highlight three of the cereals we tried.
Right off the bat, this cereal looks…well, nasty. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini Wheats Pumpkin do look like cheetah-printed Mini Wheats, which incidentally matches Tyler’s Joe Exotic Tigher King costume wonderfully. It’s also very hard to eat Frosted Mini Wheats dry — without milk — and we highly recommend adding milk to this cereal. But, once you get past the dry factor, this cereal is not so bad. You do run the risk of the leftover milk tasting just like a Pumpkin Spice Latte (which is a plus to some), but overall, this product was one of the better ones we tried.
Another Kellogg’s product that we tried was Kellogg’s Special K Pumpkin Spice. We liked this cereal too — mostly because it tasted a little like Frosted Flakes. We didn’t get a strong Pumpkin Spice flavor from this cereal, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll be disappointed. We liked these better than the Mini Wheats — they were Tyler’s frontrunner for quite a while.
Next, we tried General Mills Pumpkin Spice Cheerios — which, beware, they only make in a family size. Cheerios is trying very hard to be healthy and claim this cereal is “naturally flavored.” This cereal got mixed reviews from us: RT liked it better than the Special K, but Tyler said he’d pass. It does say that Cheerios are good for your heart, so that’s a nice bonus.
There are a TON of pumpkin spice-flavored drinks out there, and we tried everything from herbal tea to creamer to beer. Some are definitely better than others, but it was fun to see what out there.
Target sells Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Almond Milk Creamer, which is dairy-free. RT was the guinea pig for this product, and it was terrible. This creamer gets a hard pass from us.
In the video, you’ll see us try Starbucks Bottled Pumpkin Spice Latte, which you can get at Target. These Starbucks Pumpkin Spice K-Cups are a good option if you want to make your Pumpkin Spice coffee at home. Let’s just also establish, for the record, that Tyler is a BIG fan of Starbucks. He typically goes for their Blonde roast with a few shots of espresso. That’s what makes this review even more difficult — Tyler called Starbucks’ PSL “the worst thing he’s ever had in his life.” It’s Pumpkin Spice to the extreme. RT hated it too. Potentially the K-Cups are better because you can tone down the intensity of the Pumpkin Spice at home, but the later was truly awful.
Again, we sampled a wide variety of snacks in this episode — everything from granola bark to pretzels to mochi. Here are just a few highlights.
Here’s a fun fact: Pepperidge Farm has a factory just down the road from RT’s hometown of Redding, Pennsylvania. Pepperidge Farm Milano Pumpkin Spice Cookies taste great for about three seconds. It goes downhill from there. The last ten seconds before you swallow your first bite are horrifying. At this point, Tyler was starting to realize that he loved pumpkin, but hated Pumpkin Spice. RT was willing to dive a little deeper — the cookie part of the Milano was fantastic. The chocolate in the middle hits you in the first three seconds (that’s the good part). Then, the Pumpkin Spice orange layer just ruins the entire experience.
Next, we tried RXBar Pumpkin Spice Flavor. Generally, we hold RXBar to a pretty high standard. Right away, the smell hits hard. The RX bar is made of dates, cashews, egg whites, almonds, cinnamon, natural flavors, pumpkin, and cloves — legit Pumpkin Spice. It wasn’t too bad. RT was really struggling at this point, feeling fully oversaturated with Pumpkin Spice. Overall: Picture a granola bar soaked in a Pumpkin Spice latte, and that’s what the RXBar tastes like.
This final category is made up of products that no one asked to have made into Pumpkin Spice flavor. It seems like many of these companies are just trying to ride the PS wave and capitalize on fall’s biggest craze. Nevertheless, we gave these products a shot.
Ok, first of all, this is a dog treat. Greenies Dental Treats Pumpkin Spice Flavor is for dogs 25 to 50 lbs. The smell is really something. Tyler read the ingredients and refused to try it, but RT took a bite and said it tasted just like beef jerky or bacon if you soaked it in Pumpkin Spice latte. He’s not a fan, but then again, it’s not for humans.
Do not buy the Glade Pumpkin Spice Things Up. Tyler spilled it on his hands and now his entire body and the whole room is overly pungent with Pumpkin Spice. We plugged this air freshener in for maybe four seconds, and it was so overwhelming that we had to remove it immediately. This product gets the strongest of No’s from us.
Last but not least, we have the Burt’s Bees Pumpkin Spice Moisturizing Lip Balm. It comes in a fall-themed kit with Pomegranate and a Chai flavored chapstick. The Pumpkin Spice kind of tastes like sweater weather. Thumbs down from both of us — chapstick feels like a scam.
So, what were the best and worst Pumpkin Spice themed products that we tried? For Tyler, the winner was Kellogg’s Special K Pumpkin Spice. For RT, it was a close tie between two products that we didn’t write about in this post: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix. The Mix gets a slight edge because they’re a little more accessible.
As for the worst products? As Pumpkin Spice haters, we had a lot to choose from. We tried and hated the most: Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Pumpkin Spice. Tyler added a close second, the Pumpkin Spice Batons from Trader Joe’s. He said those batons “hit different.”
And there you have it! Two true PS skeptics try as many Pumpkin Spice products as possible. We hope you enjoyed reading this post, and for more, check out the full video.
The market for Pumpkin Spice seems more than saturated, but there are plenty of other fall flavors we’d love to try. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to build a product-based business — preferably one that’s not Pumpkin Spice-themed— check out our business plan that literally writes itself! Within no time, you’ll be ready to pitch to investors and start the company of your dreams.
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Thanks for reading! Until next time—
RT and Tyler