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trader joe's spooky season items

By Yasmine Kaplan

September is the official start of “spooky season.” As soon as the month hits, all signs of summer depart from stores to make way for fall and Halloween merchandise. The first store on my extensive list of places to visit is always Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s is essentially the fast fashion of food, as they begin stocking their shelves full to the brim with seasonal products extra early every year. Walking down the aisles and breathing in the curated smell of pumpkin spice amps up my excitement for fall more than Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes and family photoshoots in front of a variety of oddly shaped pumpkins combined. The theme for the Trader Joe’s food I picked up this year was anything and everything pumpkin related, so if you don’t like pumpkin flavor you will unfortunately and undoubtedly hate most of these items. If you don’t fall into the pumpkin-hater category, then continue reading my artfully curated list of the best items currently at Trader Joe’s.

1. Pumpkin Flavored Joe-Joe’s

Joe-Joe’s come out each season with a variety of flavors, like peanut butter, double chocolate, vanilla, and, the one that initially stole my heart, candy cane. Prior to this year, I never tried the pumpkin flavored ones, but, as soon as I did, I made the necessary decision to stock up enough to last me for the rest of the year. Pumpkin-flavored cookies combine with pumpkin cream to create a taste that actually doesn’t taste that much like pumpkin. To me, it tasted more like a cross between ginger snaps and animal crackers, still delicious, but different to what I had expected. I’d recommend trying these out both to eat alone or to crush up and add a little spice to other fall treats.


2. Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

As I’m generally not that big of a fan of butternut squash, this is the first year that I built up the courage to try this mac & cheese out. The butternut squash slightly sweetens the flavor of the three types of cheese in this pasta. They’ve now also added Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese bites to their roster, which I’m very excited to try, as I’m imagining a cross between this pasta and Cheesecake Factory’s mac & cheese balls. All in all, being a fan of butternut squash, or any vegetable, for that matter, is not a requirement for you to enjoy this meal.

3. Pumpkin Waffles​

Growing up, frozen waffles were a staple in my household for a quick breakfast before leaving the house at the crack of dawn for school. These waffles are perfect for the fall, as they offer a slightly sweet flavor that goes perfectly with a little cinnamon and whipped cream on top. I’d recommend adding this to your breakfast rotation immediately - it’s guaranteed to hold off the start of your seasonal depression for at least another month. 


 4. Pumpkin rolls​

Trader Joe’s advertised this pastry to be a combination of a pumpkin pie slice and a cinnamon roll which is exactly how it tasted. Infused with real pumpkin puree, the icing that comes with it has a slightly orange color, adding to the fall festivity. They’re moist yet flaky at the same time, and I would gladly have these for breakfast or dessert all year round. 

5. This Pumpkin Walks Into A Bar

This is a well-known product that Trader Joe’s brings around for the fall season as an addition to their other regular fruit-flavored cereal bars. The filling on the inside symbolizes fall time to me and is reminiscent of a sweeter version of pumpkin pie filling. If the description of this bar doesn’t convince you to pick it up, then hopefully, for the sake of Trader Joe’s creative directors, their fun name will. 


6. Honey Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli

Moving on to yet another pumpkin flavored product, Trader Joe’s put a twist on the classic flavor, adding honey and brown sugar to sweeten this ravioli. The sweet and savory flavors complement each other, making it comparable to a meal you might find at Cucciolo, if not abroad in Florence.

The dish was so flavorful on its own that I ate it without any sauce, something I recommend everyone do the first time you try this out. While I enjoyed this ravioli, it has a unique flavor profile, so try one package first before stocking up.

7. Pumpkin Ginger Hold The Cone

This is a fall take on the classic Hold The Cone ice cream that we all know and love. Some flavors I’ve had and loved in the past include, chocolate chip, peppermint, coffee bean, and chocolate. This was my first year trying the pumpkin flavor and it surpassed my expectations. The pumpkin ice cream has a slight ginger flavor and is coated with white confectioners sugar, which I think is what truly puts the (hypothetical) cherry on top of this ice cream.


8. Chocolate Mousse Pumpkins

These pumpkin shaped mousses went above and beyond my expectations. Upon initially trying them, I was surprised to find that they were layered. At the base is a dense chocolate cake topped with  the chocolate mousse, which I initially thought would make up the entire pumpkin treat. These are also one of the only items I’m mentioning that does not have any pumpkin flavor, so both pumpkin-haters and chocolate-lovers will enjoy this pick.

9. Pumpkin Spice Pretzel Slims

These pretzels are a perfect combination of sweet, from the cinnamon and nutmeg spices, and salty, balancing out the sweetness. They feature a yogurt-based coating, which can be a little overpowering given how slim the pretzels really are. Regardless, as a Flipz white fudge-covered pretzels stan, I thoroughly enjoyed these and would recommend them to anyone with a similar palate. They also feature a resealable ziplock closure which is perfect for preventing what would be my third ant infestation this month alone. 


10.  Pumpkin Spice Hummus

I saved one of my favorite items for last with this pumpkin spice hummus. Given the fact that I love pumpkin pie and that Trader Joe’s chocolate hummus was my favorite (sadly discontinued) dip, I knew I was going to love this hummus. While it is still made of chickpeas, the pumpkin puree component is what dominates the flavor profile, making it taste exactly like pumpkin pie filling. It would be perfect paired with a sweet or cinnamon flavored chip or just eaten by the spoonful.

Those were my top ten recommendations of what to pick up from Trader Joe’s during this fall season. My brain is a compilation of various food recommendations, from local restaurants and stores to destination eats, so this list could honestly go on and on. Each season, Trader Joe’s proves over and over that they’re a one-stop-shop, providing everything I could possibly need to get me in the mood for the given season. I hope this inspires someone to try something new, or at least provides some motivation to make your way over there and replenish your favorite go-to items before they’re gone!

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