We Tried (Almost) All The Pumpkin Spice Foods & Here Are Our Honest Opinions

If you ask Starbucks, fall officially began a few weeks ago with the kick-off of PSL season. And while the "official" start of fall is still weeks away, fall holiday products are dropping earlier and earlier every year – partially thanks to food brands’ unhinged zeal for all things pumpkin spice. But if you ask said brands, there’s PSL everywhere because consumers can’t wait another day to get their hands on the latte that makes fall feel real.

The autumnal triumvirate of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg has ruled seasonal fall menus for over a decade and shows no signs of waning. Just like pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice is synonymous with the season. It’s something we’ve grown to look forward to, like the smell of pine and hot chocolate in Christmas. So these days, it pops up not just in our coffee, but in our snacks, desserts, candles, makeup, and even deodorant. We’ve moved on from the PSL era and into the age of the PSE – Pumpkin Spice Everything.

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Our team braved the pumpkin spice seas and taste-tested every weird and unusual pumpkin spice treat we could get our hands on. Read on for our reviews, so next time you raise your eyebrows at a pumpkin-spice-something on yet another supermarket shelf, you’ll know if it’s worth bringing home with you. We ranked them from best to inoffensive to call-the-manager egregious... and some of our reasons may surprise you.

Photographed by Megan Madden.

Fresh Market’s Ginger Pumpkin Seed Gouda


This young gouda cheese was one of the best foods on the table. You can never go wrong with gouda, and in this case that was because it overpowered any pumpkin spice flavoring (courtesy of pumpkin seeds, ground ginger, and garlic) and tasted mostly like cheese. To remix this amazing Reddit thread describing of La Croix flavors: This tastes like regular cheese, only someone in the room next door thought of pumpkin spice.

Verdict: Would definitely put on a cheese board.
Photographed by Megan Madden.

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice Espresso Beans by Dylan’s Candy


These are probably the classiest pumpkin spice treats on the market right now. They come in an adorable espresso shot cup and they look like stones that washed up on the PSL shores. You can trust espresso beans to balance out any potential cinnamon-nutmeg shenanigans, but this white chocolate coating can also hold it down.

Verdict: Would repurchase and keep at our desks as a fancy snack.
Photographed by Megan Madden.

Pumpkin Spice My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream


Mochi ice cream is refreshing and pumpkin spice anything is inherently cozy. The two, in principle, don’t go together. But then again, when was the last time My/Mo Mochi swung and missed? We can’t remember either, and this flavor is essentially frozen pumpkin pie coated in a thick helping of rich mochi. 

Verdict: Would finish the box in one sitting.
Photographed by Megan Madden.

The Fresh Market Harvest Pumpkin Salsa


Yes, this is salsa for scooping up with tortilla chips and layering on burritos. And yes, it has pumpkin, jalapeños, tomatoes, and seasonal spices. Sadly, it doesn’t have the texture (or the kick) of regular salsa. It’s more of a sauce, really. But it’s not the worst. In fact, someone in our office took it home with them when nobody was looking.

Verdict: Would spread on a turkey sandwich.
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Pumpkin Spice Beer by Elysian Brewing


Seattle’s Elysian Brewing knows that PSE season is all about crossing your arms over your flannel and cupping something cozy with both hands. This season, it came out with five (!) PSE offerings: Night Owl is brewed with pumpkin purée and juice along with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice. The result is a dark and spicy beer that ain’t half bad. If a beer PSL is what you’re after, opt for the Punkoccino, a coffee pumpkin ale. Elysian also has a pumpkin IPA (The Great Pumpkin) and a Scwarzbier (Dark Knife) and a rich stout (Dark O’ The Moon). If you’re sensitive to “medicinal” flavors, steer clear of the ones with clove and allspice.

Verdict: Would cross my arms over my flannel and cup one of these with both hands.

Photographed by Megan Madden.

Sheila G’s Brownie Brittle - Pumpkin Spice Blondie


Sheila G forever changed snacking with her banging brownie brittle, a hard-to-top feat if you ask us. This pumpkin spice blondie has a brown sugar base dotted with cream cheese chips. Not much in the pumpkin spice department, though. It does have a strong buttery flavor that some of our testers found artificial and gross. But then, some of us thought it was the buttery sweetness you find in a good funfetti cake.

Verdict: Would put on a PSL snack board because sure, why not?
Photographed by Megan Madden.

Milano Pumpkin Spice


Your beloved Milano’s dark chocolate filling is sandwiched between two layers of pumpkin spice cream for a limited time only. Our team’s fiercest PSL fan said these tasted like a gingerbread house. The PSL skeptics, however, could’ve done without the “airplane pumpkin pie” taste. This bag retails for less than four dollars though, so if you’re desperately curious, it’s worth trying them out yourself. 

Verdict: Would dip in some coffee – either to mask the artificial taste or because they’re so delicious.
Photographed by Megan Madden.

Smashmallow Pumpkin Pie


Everything about these marshmallows is absolutely adorable. Physically speaking, at least. These perfect squares are layered with creamy white and dreamy creamsicle orange. They’re like tiny pumpkin pies dolloped with whipped cream. Small caveat though: “It smells like a Halloween store,” to use the words of one of our writers. After closer inspection (and an unexpected sneezing fit), we found that it smells like a shake-and-go, and it tastes like the sticky sweet floor of a Party City on November 1st.

Verdict: Would put in a cup of coffee… after weighing it down with a rock because it should sink straight to the bottom and stay there.
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