It's early September which, at least according to stores, means fall is in full swing. I am a huge fan of fall and all of its cute traditions. I love the pumpkin patches, the scented candles, dressing up in cute sweaters, but every year, I feel left out on a very important part of the season: the pumpkin spice lattes. I'm honestly not a fan of coffee, so I always feel like I'm not getting the full fall experience.  

coffee, tea, beer
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Lucky for me, the pumpkin spice trend has branched far beyond Starbucks and nearly every snack food company is rolling out a seasonal version of their product. To help you decide which of the many pumpkin products are worth trying and which you might want to avoid, I'm going to review five popular pumpkin spice products.

Shea McCollum
Eventually, I managed to make it through Target with my pumpkin goodies (and maybe some other stuff) in hand. I ignored the questioning and slightly judgmental look that the checkout guy gave me as he swiped pumpkin product after pumpkin product into my grocery bag because I didn't care. I was only a few short minutes away from fall bliss. 

1. Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts

sweet, candy
Shea McCollum

Okay, so this one is kind of cheating because it's technically pumpkin pie flavored, not pumpkin spice, but they're Pumpkin Pop-Tarts. I couldn't resist. 

As I opened the box and saw the silvery packages, I was reminded of middle school when I'd run home to go pop my Pop-Tarts in the toaster.

Unfortunately, my dorm room didn't have a toaster, and I felt too weird bringing my own Pop-Tarts to the toaster in the Caf, so I decided I would have to try the Pop-Tarts uncooked.

butter, cake
Shea McCollum

My first thought after taking a bite was, "Woah, this is straight up pumpkin pie." The filling was super sweet with just the right mix of pumpkin and spices that I could've sworn I was eating the real thing. After the second and third bite, I started to taste the classic shortbread Pop-Tart taste mixed in with the flavor of pumpkin that tasted almost like a less buttery version of pie crust.

Overall, I really liked this one and I think that if it was toasted it would have made it a little tastier. 

My rating: 4 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes.

2. Chobani Pumpkin Spice Blended Yogurt

vegetable, pumpkin, tomato, pepper
Shea McCollum

Since most of the foods on this list aren't great for you, I figured I'd mix it up and add a healthy pumpkin-flavored food. I was excited for this one—until I opened the package. The yogurt looked a little bit, well, for lack of a better word, chunky. Admittedly, it was a bit of a drive back from Target and so I might have left the yogurt out a bit too long, but it really was not looking pretty. 

cream, cream cheese, yogurt
Shea McCollum

It definitely didn't taste much better than it looked. The texture was a bit hard to get past. Not only was it not very smooth, but all the spices made it kind of grainy. Even if you can get over the texture, the slight sourness of the yogurt just doesn't mix very well with the pumpkin flavor. If you decide to be brave and try this flavor anyway, just make sure you refrigerate it first.

My rating: 1.5 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes. 

3. Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Shea McCollum

I have a confession to make: I am not a big fan of Oreos. However, since this Oreo technically doesn't contain either the cookie or the icing element from a regular Oreo, I figured that I would try it out. 

Upon the first bite, I thought that it tasted like a normal vanilla Oreo. Once I ate some more, I started to notice that the icing had some subtle spice to it, but still no distinct pumpkin-y flavor. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody told me that they just mislabeled a bunch of Gingerbread Oreos. 

Despite the distinct lack of pumpkin, I really liked these Oreos, at least enough to consider trying some of their other new flavors.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes.

4. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios 

cereal, nut, coffee
Shea McCollum

I got really excited when I saw this cereal at Target. Like most college students, I am in love with cereal, so I was already totally on board with this one. 

I considered eating the Cheerios straight out of the bag, but since I was going to be reviewing this, I thought that I should go for the full experience.  I poured myself a bowl with milk and ate it like a civilized human being. 

cereal, wheat, pasta
Shea McCollum

After my first bite, I could really taste the strong pumpkin spice and I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Once I got my second bite with milk, I noticed the milk washed away all of the flavors from the spice and left the Cheerios tasting, sadly, like soggy cardboard. It was an unsatisfying realization—especially with the high expectations that I had set for Cheerios. If you end up trying these, I would definitely recommend eating them dry.

My rating: 2.5 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes.

5. Pumpkin Spice Milanos

sweet, dairy product, bread, candy
Shea McCollum

I was very skeptical about buying these. I haven't had a Milano in a while, but from what I remembered of the cookie, it didn't seem like it would go well with pumpkin spice flavoring. However, I was intrigued by the idea of it and thought it was at least worth a try.

I opened the package and, true to what I remembered, most of the Milanos were already broken. I selected a non-crumbled one, tried to ignore the odd orange and brown coloring of the filling, and took a bite. I could definitely taste the pumpkin spice flavoring in the cookie, but as I had feared, the flavor didn't really mesh that well with the cookie. 

Overall, I give props to Pepperidge farms for trying to stay on top of trends and balancing the fall flavors, but unfortunately, I don't think that chocolate and pumpkin spice were really meant to be.

My rating: 2 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes.

Bonus: Tazo Chai Tea Latte

tea, coffee
Shea McCollum

Okay, so I know that I set out to review pumpkin spice foods, but I saw this and I couldn't resist. This was the closest I could get to the pumpkin spice latte without actually having to drink coffee. I mixed the tea with milk as the carton suggested and decided to have it iced because this is California and fall still means it's 80 degrees outside. 

As cliché as it sounds, the drink honestly tasted like fall in a cup. It was the perfect combination of the comfort of the fall flavors with the rush from the sugar and caffeine that made me feel ready to have a Halloween movie marathon. I could definitely see myself drinking this in the morning to remind myself that it really is fall even when the leaves aren't changing color. 

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkin spice lattes.

I really hope that my review was helpful to you all in figuring out which foods from the pumpkin spice trend are worth trying and which ones you might want to avoid.