Trader Joe’s gets in the spirit

The grocer's fall products are delicious and festive

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Every October, Trader Joe’s stores stock their shelves with about every fall, apple, maple and pumpkin-spiced snack imaginable. With so many sweet and savory options to choose from, it makes walking into one of these stores exciting, but also overwhelming. The challenge to choose which products to buy is a fun one, but it can be hard to actually make a decision.  

Some items are almost always sure to reappear, like the beloved Spiced Apple Cider (delicious hot or cold) and various pumpkin bread mixes that grow in numbers as the years progress. Some products don’t make the cut and after one season are never seen again. Walking into my local Trader Joe’s, I decided to pick some notable new and old products and put their flavors to the test. 

One product that definitely caught my eye is so bizarre, yet so good. Trader Joe’s Turkey and Stuffing Kettle Chips are exactly what their name suggests: Thanksgiving stuffing in a chip. Although I am not the biggest fan of potato chips, others who tried these chips said they tasted exactly like Thanksgiving dinner; which is delicious to say the least. The chips are also gluten free, offering more to those with dietary restrictions.

Another find is one closer to what you would expect during fall: Maple Leaf Cookies. Located at the front of the store, these cookies were hard to miss. Even though they are returning products, I had never tried them before. The moment I bit into one of these leaf-shaped cookies, my mouth exploded with maple flavor. Similar to an Oreo, there is a maple cream filling sandwiched between two “leaves.” On their own, the cookies are a tad dry but with the cream they are perfect. 

Anyone who frequents Trader Joe’s during autumn knows that Spiced Apple Cider is a definite staple in any fridge. This beverage has been at Trader Joe’s for twenty years, and in my opinion, is the essence of fall. Scrumptious warmed up or cold, this drink has the perfect combination of spices and apple. Without a doubt, if you like cider, this is a must for fall. This cider also served as the inspiration for Trader Joe’s Spiced Cider Cookies which are divine dipped into the drink. 

Another returning item that I tried was the pumpkin waffles, with this unique twist setting it apart from all other waffle and pancake variations. However, the pumpkin is not overpowering and when paired with maple syrup or fresh berries, gives off just the right flavor. My only complaint about these waffles is that when eaten alone, they are dry. This is most likely due to the fact that they are meant for quick convenience, and thus sacrifice the fluffiness and moisture other waffles offer. 

To counter the dryness, I drizzled Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Bun Spread on top and the result was delicious. This is a new product that has been quite successful, according to the store manager, and I can see why. The spread manages to encompass what an entire cinnamon roll tastes like: rich, buttery and of course, cinnamon-ey. I warn that the spread can be very sugary, so a little goes a long way.

When one thinks fall, they don’t tend to think ice cream. However, a new arrival to Trader Joe’s shelves, the Maple Ginger Cookie Swirl ice cream will most likely change your minds. In store, I did not think I would like this ice cream. I am not a huge fan of ginger because the flavor can be overpowering and it has an acquired taste. This made me somewhat hesitant when I took my first spoonful of the ice cream. The instant flavor overcoming my taste buds was ginger but I found that I didn’t mind. Although I had been looking forward to a maple ice cream with a hint of ginger, it was the other way around. I suggest countering this powerful flavor by pairing the ice cream with some classic Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies (shaped in letters) or eating the ice cream in small portions. 

I was impressed by the wide selection of fall-themed products at Trader Joe’s and would definitely recommend all the products reviewed. The faults I found, such as dryness or overpowering ginger, were minor in comparison to the exquisite flavors offered in each and every bite.