Trader Joe’s unbe-LEAF-able fall items


Photo by Nur Yavuz.

Each season, Trader Joe’s comes out with new special seasonal items. The Observer Staff rated all of the under-the-radar items for fall and the winner was Pumpkin Ice Cream.

By Melissa Redlich, Features Editor

Trader Joe’s, the place everybody knows and loves. Not only do they satisfy customers, but every season they come out with a myriad of delicious delicacies to be praised. 

The Churchill Observer Staff, also known as the next biggest food critics, taste-tested and rated some of the most over-the-top and under-the-radar fall food items. 

Mini Spicy Pumpkin Samosas

Prepared in the toaster the night before, these triangular-shaped stuffed bread pockets were a little bit soggy. While perhaps delicious when eaten fresh, this food item got a wide variety of ranks. The average rating being a six out of 10, which describes the item perfectly. Neither good nor bad. Somewhere between not spicy enough and too spicy. Plain, but also sweet. Mediocre. Average. 

Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix

Once again, it is important to consider the lag time between preparation and consumption. These pancakes were delicious when they were fresh, but by the time they were eaten at school for the taste test, they just tasted like regular cold pancakes. Although many of the critics seemed to enjoy them cold, a few described them as bland. 

“They were super dry and almost completely flavorless. I would not buy again,” Observer Sports Editor Justin Greenzaid said. 

And yet, two students nearly scraped out the container to collect crumbs and carry them home for an afternoon snack.

“The pancakes were delicious! I liked how they really tasted like pumpkin, but it was not too overwhelming or artificial,” Observer Features Editor Jack Gans said. 

Overall, the average rating for these pancakes was a seven out of 10.

Pumpkin Ice Cream

 This pumpkin ice cream was the star of the show. Staff members fought over who would take this delicious, thick ice cream home. Pumpkin ice cream was the first item that achieved multiple scores exceeding 10. 

“Oh my gosh, this ice cream is so good. It is like pumpkin pie filling in creamy form,” Observer Online Editor Rachel Mattison said. “The cinnamon complemented the pumpkin really well. Go and buy it now!”

Multiple students commented that this was the best ice cream they had ever eaten, trust the Observer food critics on this one. Head on over to Trader Joe’s immediately to get some before it is sold out! Score: 9.5 out of 10! Could this be the winner?

Maple Streusel Bread

This bread was as truly plain and average as it gets. It did not taste like fall and was not anything special. 

“The edges were sweet with the glaze, but the bread was a little bland and not soft like it should have been. Maybe it needed to be heated up? Honestly, it was just so-so,” Observer Assistant News Editor Micheal Demske said.

If people crave bread from Trader Joe’s, there are many better options. Rating? A disappointing six out of 10. 

Creamy Toscano Cheese dusted with Cinnamon

Sounds awful, looked ‘iffy’, but did not disappoint. This cheese, while grossing out most of the staff, was surprisingly delicious. At first bite it tasted like normal cheese, but after a moment or two, the cinnamon taste would peek through. This cheese was a very controversial item. Most people decided not to try it because it looked unappealing. What a shame.

“I was not expecting to like this and was pleasantly surprised. It had a really good flavor and texture. I would honestly recommend it,” Observer Assistant Online Editor Caitlin Murphy said.

If someone is not a cheese connoisseur, this may not be for them. Overall rating a seven out of 10, especially since it appeals to so few of the gourmands.

Fall Harvest Salsa

This salsa was not bad, but it was not great either. It had a lot of vegetable chunks including pumpkin, squash, and apples. Essentially looked and tasted like a normal salsa, but worse. Overall, staff testers gave it a seven out of 10. 

Greek Nonfat Yogurt – Pumpkin 

There simply should not be such a thing as pumpkin yogurt. Unless you are fanatically obsessed with the taste of pumpkins, there is no reason to eat pumpkin yogurt. While most students described this as too disgusting to even try, there was one student – with a distinct palette, perhaps? – who exceptionally liked it. 

“It was really good! I loved the hint of pumpkin throughout the yogurt, which added to the creaminess,” Observer Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Fredricks said. 

Overall rating: four out of 10. 

This “Pumpkin” Walks into a Bar… Cereal Bars

This pumpkin cereal bar is a basic snack shoppers would likely buy again, but in a different flavor. A staple in your cart, these pumpkin bars are solid and give nice ‘fall’ vibes. Critics vote: six out of 10.

Pumpkin Butter

This pumpkin butter was kind of citrusy, rather than pumpkin or autumny. The staff prefers other types of fruit butters, for example apple butter (or even just normal butter). 

“This pumpkin butter was kind of meh. I put it on the maple streusel bread and it didn’t impact it that much. That being said, it was not really bad by any measure,” Observer Sports Editor Ryan Weiner said. 

Average rating is a disappointing 6.5 out of 10. 

Pumpkin Bisque 

Eww. Most reviewers could not be persuaded to try this food. It looks similar to throwing up in a thermos. Maybe if the atmosphere was better to have a bowl of soup – a nice garnish of chives, croutons, or a dollop of sour cream – it would have been more appealing. But as of now, its rating stands at a two out of 10.

Spiced Cider

Last, but not least, we have spiced cider. For this product, the sentiment was unanimous. While it was good, there are better options out there. Cider is normally supposed to be warm, so the tepid cider might have turned off some of the staff members. 

“This cider was not my favorite, but I see the vision that Trader Joe’s was going for, so they get bonus points from me,” Observer Editor-in-Chief Olivia Yasharoff said.

Cider score: seven out of 10. 


Trader Joe’s is definitely doing something right. While their creative ideas for fall food items might not be a success, they get points for originality and personality, imagination and trying new things. Students are willing to try new seasonal food items specifically because they are from Trader Joe’s. Just because a few of the food items were subpar, does not detract from the Trader Joe’s brand. Trader Joe’s, The Observer Staff loves you!