Trader Joe’s should be ashamed of themselves. It’s taken them until today–MID SEPTEMBER–to roll out their pumpkin spice offerings for this season. What’s next, waiting until February to sell Easter candy?
Nevertheless, they’re making up for lost time: walking into the store, I was overwhelmed by pumpkin yogurt, pumpkin butter, pumpkin spiced pumpkin seeds (too far, if you ask me), pumpkin biscotti, and about 76 other similar items. One of the nice Trader Joe’s employees asked me how I was doing, and he got more than he bargained for as I broke down and told him I was having a pumpkin spiced anxiety attack. He recommended the Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels and walked away quickly.
Their regular salted caramels are excellent: quality dark chocolate, good caramel, and a ton of sea salt. My only real complaints are a slight wateriness to the caramel and too much sea salt. (And that’s coming from someone who carries salt packets in her purse as a light snack.) I was excited to see how/if this version improved upon the original.
Right off the bat, they look promising. Gone are the big heavy granules of sea salt, replaced with more subtle (and beautifully colored) Red Hawaiian sea salt. Biting into one, I was delighted by how well the flavors worked together: the same tasty dark chocolate as usual, but the filling is *perfectly* pumpkin. It’s a thicker and richer filling than the traditional caramel, and the spicing is just flawless. It tastes exactly like pumpkin pie.
The chocolate/pumpkin ratio is spot on, too: it’s just enough pumpkin to really stand out before letting the chocolate shine through. I couldn’t quite figure out what the deal was with the salt, though: I don’t know what makes Red Hawaiian salt special, and I don’t think I care. It’s less salty than regular salt, and I know what I said before about the original ones being too salty, but in the heat of the moment I want that sweet sweet sodium. Again though, I have a serious and troubling addiction to the white crystal, so this may be more of a personal gripe than anything. It’s also a minor issue; these caramels are mostly incredible.
If you can wade through the veritable ocean of pumpkin spiced foods at your local TJ’s, I highly recommend that you pick these up. I think they’d satisfy people on both ends of the pumpkin spice preference spectrum (aka me and Junk Male). Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for dinner.
Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Timeliness Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Sodium’s Chemical Formula Rating: NA out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
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