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May 18, 2024

Ranking Trader Joe's fall foods

By YANA MULANI | October 11, 2023

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COURTESY OF YANA MULANI

Taking a stroll through the cereal and dried oats section of Trader Joe’s, you will find many fall-themed items!

As an international student, I had always heard about the hype around Trader Joe’s, but only recently have I had the opportunity to dive in. This year, I switched my weekly shopping location from the Giant Food on W 41st Street to the Trader Joe’s on Kenilworth Drive in Towson. Though I do have to pay for a rideshare service, as it’s outside of the limits of the Blue Jay Shuttle, my total bill is still much lower than what I used to pay at Giant Food. More importantly, the quality of food is better, and the options are so much more exciting, too. 

This fall season, I picked out a few autumnal snacks to get me in the mood for the chilly weather. I’ve ranked them out of 10 in the categories of Taste, Value and the ever-critical Fall Vibes. Read on, and maybe you’ll feel inspired to have your own fall-themed shopping spree on your next grocery run!

First place: Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I was shocked at how much I liked these! I originally bought them as a surprise for my roommate, who loves icing-covered cookies, but I ended up enjoying them too. They’re definitely sweet, but the addition of pumpkin adds some more depth to what may be an otherwise plain biscuit. The yogurt base coating is slightly tangy, which provides great balance. 

In terms of fall vibes, these cookies aren’t anything particularly special, and yet, maybe something simple is what’s needed. At $3.99 for a 10-ounce box, this isn’t too bad of a deal!

Taste: 9/10

Value: 8/10

Fall Vibes: 7/10

Second place: Mini Maple Flavored Marshmallows

I hate most candy, but I absolutely love marshmallows. The addition of maple provides just the right amount of flavor to the soft pillows of joy that are marshmallows. They may be tiny, but they’re perfect either by themselves or as an addition to hot chocolate, a fall-themed Rice Krispies treat or even an inspired autumnal s’more. 

For a small bag of six ounces, $2.99 seems pricey, but you will find a lot of small delights in that one bag. There isn’t too much more to say about these — it’s a maple-flavored marshmallow; you get the deal. 

Taste: 8/10

Value: 7/10

Fall Vibes: 7/10

Third place: Pumpkin O’s 

My other roommate and I are obsessed with Trader Joe’s Honey O’s — we’ve been known to get through a box in less than 48 hours. The Pumpkin O’s hold the same durability in milk, but the flavor is wildly different. Intensely pumpkin, this is only an option for those die-hard pumpkin fans; for me, it was a little much. Once you’ve eaten the cereal, the milk turns a pale shade of orange, adding to the autumnal vibes we’re seeking. You get a massive box of 12 ounces for $2.99, so this is an absolute steal!

Taste: 5/10

Value: 9/10

Fall Vibes: 7/10

Fourth place: Mexican Style Hot Cocoa Melts

If you know me, you’ll know I rarely drink hot chocolate — it’s hard to find a really good one. This is definitely not your usual powdered hot chocolate, so I’ll judge it as a hot, fall drink instead. An orange-coloured, pumpkin-shaped white chocolate bomb filled with mini marshmallows, pouring hot milk on top of it makes for a fun surprise. I dearly wish it had richer notes of cocoa, instead of the white chocolate it boasts instead, but the cinnamon does shine through. It is a bit on the pricier side, at $4.99 for four hot chocolate bombs, but you’re paying for the entertainment, so I’ll let it slide a bit.

Taste: 6/10

Value: 6/10

Fall Vibes: 8/10

Fifth place: Cinnamon Bun Spread

I had such high hopes for this one! While the idea of a Cinnamon Bun Spread propels me straight into cozy, autumn vibes, neither the taste nor the texture quite lived up to my expectations. If you’ve ever had the Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter, you’ll know why I was searching for a fall-themed version of it. It’s thick, creamy and melts in your mouth. However, the consistency of the Cinnamon Bun Spread was just a little too thin for me. Where was the luxuriously thick spread that I could slather onto a piece of toast?

In terms of taste, it was too sweet, with not enough depth of spice. Everything put together, it was reminiscent of a can of condensed milk with a dash of cinnamon mixed into it. At $3.49 for 10 ounces, this just isn’t worth it in my book.

Taste: 4/10

Value: 6/10

Fall Vibes: 8/10


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