Starbucks wins the pumpkin spice game

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, October 7, 2017

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Despite being a white girl, I’ve never really fallen into the pumpkin spice trap.

I understand the appeal – I enjoy the occasional pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks while wearing a sweater and a scarf and thinking about my favorite season, fall. But I’ve never really explored any other pumpkin spice variants, unless you count the traditional pumpkin pie that at least three or four of my older relatives will bake and line up next to one another on the counter every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Racey Burden

So pumpkin spice, at least the Starbucks kind, tastes good and reminds everyone it’s fall even when it’s still 90 degrees out, and that’s cool. But David and I wondered, how far is too far when it comes to this autumn seasoning craze?

We made a trip to Walmart in search of all things pumpkin spice. David had done some research beforehand and determined that Walmart offers more than 300 pumpkin spice products, but that’s just online. The Decatur store was surprisingly low on all things pumpkin. We left with a box of granola bars, oatmeal mix, cookies, Cheerios, yogurt, Twinkies and Ben and Jerry’s pumpkin cheesecake ice cream. We also swung by Starbucks for an iced pumpkin spice latte and pumpkin spice chai tea.

I think the thing that is hard about any extraneous ingredient is adding enough so you can taste it but not so much it’s overwhelming. On that count, I think a lot of these products failed by not tasting pumpkin spicy enough, which I guess is better than overwhelming us with the taste.


The granola bars were pretty good, actually – just flavorful enough, but a little too crunchy, which is par for the course with granola bars. I would maybe eat one for breakfast if I didn’t have any cereal left.


I don’t like oatmeal, so the oatmeal mix didn’t get judged fairly, but this is my column and I get to write what I want, whether I want to criticize Trump or soggy oats.


The cookies were actually pretty good. Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake is not exactly the same as pumpkin spice, though, and they were also a bit too sweet for my taste.


The Cheerios tasted like regular Cheerios. You’re not fooling anyone with your fake fall spirit, Cheerios. However, I give them extra credit though because I still like the regular cereal.


I really enjoyed the pumpkin yogurt, and I appreciated the way it looked like it had pumpkin pie filling sprinkled throughout. However, you could barely taste the pumpkin flavor.


Twinkies, regular, pumpkin spice or otherwise, should never be consumed by anyone. Disgusting.


Ben and Jerry’s is always a win, though by that point in the tasting I couldn’t stomach more than one bite.


Starbucks is mostly responsible for this craze, so it’s fitting their pumpkin spice products are the best. I’ll give the iced latte 4.5/5 pumpkins, but the tea took the top tier.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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