I Tried Every Non-Pumpkin-Spice Trader Joe’s Seasonal Snack

I hate pumpkin spice. I’m sorry! I understand why people love it, but it just isn’t for me. Because of that, I’m always on the hunt for the best seasonal products that aren’t pumpkin spice-flavored.

And when it comes to seasonal products, everyone knows that Trader Joe’s is king. I gathered every non-pumpkin-spice Trader Joe’s seasonal snack I could get my hands on for a taste test in honor of all the pumpkin-spice haters out there. Here are the products ranked from worst to best.

Cinnamon Bun Spread

This is a product Trader Joe’s has every year and, to be honest, I’m not sure why. It does not taste good, but maybe my hopes were too high. This tastes sweet and chemically, like a worse version of caramel.

Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins

Another product that is great in concept, but bad in execution. These have a weird chemical aftertaste. I like the chocolate cake and mousse, but the orange coating has a bizarre flavor and texture that I didn’t enjoy.

Halloween Joe-Joe’s Cookies

Don’t buy these. They’re not bad, but they definitely inferior to Halloween Oreos. There isn’t a huge price difference between the two so just splurge and go Oreo. Sorry, Trader Joe’s!

Apple Caramels

These are sticky and taste like artificial green apple. If you like artificial green apple, grab a bag of these. Otherwise, leave them on the shelf. The caramel isn’t good enough to satisfy a typical caramel lover.

Sempiternal Spiced Cider

This isn’t bad, but it’s too close to the flavor of pumpkin spice for me (a person who hates pumpkin spice). It’s like pumpkin spice minus the pumpkin, and it’s very potent. If you are a fan of intense fall flavors like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, this is a good buy. It would be nice cold or hot. Personally,I  would bring this as a treat to a fall holiday party for others to enjoy while I drank a Dr. Pepper.

Maple Almonds

This is a very nice roasted almond with a light maple coating. If you want something that is subtle and not too sweet, this is a great option. For me, there could’ve been a little more maple flavor. I would, however, totally crush these up and toss them into a fall harvest-inspired salad for lunch.

Apple Cider Donuts

Straight out of the box, these would be way further down the list. Popped into the microwave for ten seconds? I’m in love. These are so pleasant and pillowy. There’s a heavy cinnamon sugar coating. These are perfect for anyone who can’t get to an apple orchard during the fall months.

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese Bites

These are very good. I do think the breading needs more seasoning, though. TJ’s frozen Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese is a perfect 10/10, but the flavorless crust on these mac & cheese bites takes away from the otherwise perfect filling. Buy these if you want a fun, seasonal appetizer, but stick to the regular butternut squash mac & cheese if you want the best version of this product.

Unexpected Cheddar Spread

If you’ve been on TikTok in the last two weeks, you know the Unexpected Cheddar Spread is delicious. Is it as good as the classic Unexpected Cheddar? In my (maybe controversial) opinion, no. You miss out on the crunchy cheese crystals I love so much. That being said, it is a great cheese spread for a party or a snack.

Spooky Sour Bats & Cats Gummy Candies

We buy these every year. They are so fruity and chewy and sugary. They’re vegan. The shapes are fun. What more could you want in a seasonal gummy? They come in green apple, orange, and grape—an elite flavor combo. I’m sad when these leave the shelves each year. 

Red Pepper Cranberry & Walnut Dip

This is a riff on the Middle Eastern spread Muhammara, which is made of roasted red peppers and walnuts. Trader Joe’s version is surprisingly good. The cranberries are a welcome addition and add a little sweetness. I brought this home after our taste test and have been snacking on it all week.

Salted Maple Ice Cream

This was a real show stopper. The ice cream is rich and creamy. The maple swirls are sweet and taste like real maple. I would absolutely buy this over and over again. It is probably the best Trader Joe’s ice cream I’ve ever had. Go get it before it sells out.

About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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