Celestial Seasonings Sweet Harvest Pumpkin Tea

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As you all know, I make some impulsive buys when it comes to pumpkin. I do like tea, but generally the only tea I purchase is Chai because I know I will make it. Otherwise, if I want tea, I will get it from a coffee shop. If you could get teas in smaller amounts, I would probably buy more and be more daring, but when I have to commit to twenty bags of tea or half a pound of loose tea, I play it safe. But then I saw this sweet pumpkin tea and threw caution to the wind and bought it.

The tea was okay. I do not drink my tea unsweetened, but I do take a sip before I sweeten it so that I know how I want to do so. I could faintly taste the pumpkin, but mostly the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, which was what I was anticipating since it is a tea, but I also tasted something off about it. I looked at the ingredients (which I will do before purchasing from here on out) and saw “natural sweetener,” which was a stevia extract. I know stevia is a natural sweetener and zero calories and all that goodness, but it still tastes like splenda and sweet ‘n’ low and equal and all the other artificial sweeteners to me. And I did not appreciate that the tea forced a sweetener on me; however, it did say it was a “sweet” pumpkin tea, so I should have known some sort of sweetener was in it. I tried to mask it with agave, and that did not work. I also tried to make a tea latte out of it, and I still could not eliminate the stevia flavor. If it was not for that, though, I think I would have liked the tea, so if you like stevia, you can add an extra point to the score.

Celestial Seasonings Sweet Pumpkin Tea: 3/5

Wawa Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate

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My little sister takes a few classes at our local community college, and on those days, my mother or I, depending on who is dropping her off, we treat her to Wawa since it is the cool thing with college kids these days to go to the local gas station and get coffee, breakfast sandwiches, bagels, or mac and cheese. And actually going inside Wawa with my sister this go around, I can see why. The options and customization they have now is ridiculous, and now they have a latte section?! After this discovery, I felt it necessary to treat myself as well. I decided to go with a nonfat pumpkin white hot chocolate since I kept trying to get one from Dunkin Donuts, but they never got my order right (I eventually realized they never “got my order right” because they were selling a pumpkin white chocolate latte, and I misread). This was a little cup of heaven. I already love white hot chocolate, and theirs was sweet and creamy and just a dream. And their pumpkin syrup was delicious, more similar to Dunkin’s than Starbucks’ just to give a comparison. The only downfall to this drink is even a 10 oz nonfat one is 200+ calories, and Wawa currently does not carry soymilk, both of which mean I probably will not be drinking anymore this holiday season. But I look forward to having this lovely beverage annually.

Wawa Pumpkin White Hot Chocolate: 5/5

Little Bites Pumpkin Muffins

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On one of my rare trips to Giant, I found this little tempting morsel. I love the Little Bites blueberry muffins (my unhealthy breakfast of choice sophomore year of college), so I had some high hopes for these. I can’t say they were disappointing as a muffin. Just like their blueberry cousin, they were curiously (and probably should have been concerningly) soft and sweet. However, as a pumpkin muffin, they are disappointing. I mean, they did not even have an artificial pumpkin flavor; they were void of pumpkin flavor entirely. They should have just been called pumpkin spice muffins because they were soft, sweet muffins dusted with pumpkin pie spice. At least they were tasty though. My little sister loved them.

Little Bites Pumpkin Muffins: 2/5

Market Pantry (Target) Lite Eggnog

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Eggnog is by far one of my guiltiest of guilty pleasures. It has nothing nutritionally redeemable about it, which probably attributes to its deliciousness. However, I cannot justify consuming 200+ calories on a half of a cup of a drink, so I spend a lot of time trying lower calorie nogs (sometimes no egg at all). I tried Target’s Market Pantry for the first time last year and fell in love. It is a beautiful consistency, not too creamy and not too runny, and has a good balance of sweetness and spices, moreso cinnamon than nutmeg. My only complaint I could find is its shade of yellow bothers me. It’s a little more artificial looking than I’d like, but it’s not glowing or anything. Otherwise, so far it has been my staple eggnog this entire season.

Market Pantry Lite Eggnog: 4.5/5

Happy Farms Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, Yogurt, and Creamer

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Target has been slacking for me this year on pumpkin treats. It seemed like they always had at least one new and exciting item and carried more of those hard-to-find big brand items, like pumpkin spice Eggos. However, their slacking has forced me to branch out and scope for pumpkin goodies in other stores, which has proved to be a positive thing. In my recent trip to Aldi, I went on the hunt for pumpkin and did not leave empty handed.

The first thing i tried was the pumpkin pie yogurt. Generally, I try to stay away from milks and yogurts because my stomach likes them better some days than others, but I couldn’t resist. When I first took a bite, it tasted pretty delicious, pumpkin-y and cinnamon-y. Then, the aftertaste was bothersome. I scanned the ingredients and realized it was aspartame. While I could finish it, it became less and less enjoyable with each bite. If the taste of aspartame or artificial sweetener, this yogurt is good for you.

Fit & Active Pumpkin Pie Yogurt: 3/5

The next morning I had a half a bagel with the pumpkin spice cream cheese. The color is an alarming dark and artificial orange coloring with huge flecks of what I assume are nutmeg but can’t be too sure. I slathered it liberally on my bagel half (if I can stick with half a wheat bagel, I’ve earned my extra cream cheese), took a bite, and was not pleased. It was chalky, just like the Great Value version, and tasted as artificial as it looked. I was so upset I refuse to buy pumpkin spice cream cheese unless it’s Philadelphia or Einstein Bros.

We’ll see if I can stick with those convictions.

Happy Farms Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese: 1/5

Accompanying my bagel, which was soon replaced by a bowl of cereal, was my signature cup of Veranda Blend Blonde Roast and the pumpkin spice coffee creamer. Now, I’m an avid International Delight pumpkin pie creamer enthusiast (Coffeemate’s pumpkin spice creamer has so much spice it burns my throat if I accidentally overpour), but it seems like this year they have been focusing so much on their new sugar free version that the original version is nowhere to be found. So I decided to branch out and try this. Fortunately, my entire pumpkin haul from Aldi was not a waste because this was delicious. It is almost exactly like the International Delight creamer. I would have just liked it to have had a tad more spice, but otherwise, I was very happy with this and will probably purchase every time I’m at Aldi until it is off the shelf.

Friendly Farms Pumpkin Spice Creamer: 4/5

 

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Swirl Bread

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When I saw this in the grocery store a few months ago, I literally stopped in my tracks and did a hard reverse with my grocery cart. I had been randomly craving cinnamon raisin swirl bread, a luxury favorite of my mother’s, but I chose to ignore it. Then I saw the glory that is pumpkin spice swirl bread and could not think of a better way to indulge. I tried it the next morning for breakfast, with my coffee sweetened with pumpkin spice creamer, of course, and could not have been more pleased. This bread is everything you would want pumpkin spice swirl bread to be. Sweet and a perfect balance of cinnamon and nutmeg but not overwhelming in any way. I chose to top it with butter until I got to the last four pieces because I decided to make French toast with it for my sister and I. In case you were wondering, it was wonderful.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Swirl Bread: 5/5

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

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For the first August in a while, I did not see premature signs of fall. Most people would be relieved to not have a season aggressively pushed on them in the midst of another, but I’ve been a little sad. I enjoy seeing orange all through the isles of places like Target and trying new products so that I know by October and November what will be a staple for me that season and what I will use to entertain. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I saw these pumpkin cheesecake cookies sneak their way into my local grocery store. These types of cookies are not necessarily my thing, but I was pretty starved for pumpkin and did an impromptu buy.

When I opened the package, I was overwhelmed with autumnal glee. The cookies smelled like a freshly baked pumpkin pie, and I had to enjoy a few wiffs before I actually indulged into a cookie. The positives of the cookies, other than that heavenly scent, are that they are delectably soft and the cheesecake chunks are rich and sweet. The negative is the pumpkin flavoring is weak, if there at all. The flavoring is more pumpkin spice, which as you probably know is not offensive to me, but a little disappointing. I will probably not be purchasing these again, but if you are not into strong pumpkin flavoring but love that wonderful nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove combo and a sweet cookie, you will definitely love these.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies: 3/5

Holiday Season 2012 List!

On a way more positive note, where are the foods I cannot wait to try next holiday season!

I really wanted to try this this year because I saw them on sale for an extremely low price, but the season was almost over and I could not figure out on what I could eat this. Now I’ve realized toast, bagels, waffles, and all other bread products are all fair game.

 

Again, I saw and wanted these, but I could not justify purchasing them for no purpose. I do not eat marshmallows whole, and I do not like pumpkin and milk chocolate. However, I like pumpkin and white chocolate, so I could top my white hot chocolate with these adorable marshmallows. Or I could make pumpkin spice rice crispies.

 

I haven’t craved yogurt in a long time, including last holiday season. But I’m going to suck it up anyway. I do like frozen yogurt, so I’ll probably try freezing it as well.

 

I also usually don’t like pudding, but I regret not getting this every time I pass the pudding section of the grocery store.

 

I couldn’t find these! I was so excited to try them, and they were nowhere to be found :(

 

Since the Einstein’s ones were a little disappointing, I’m willing to give these a shot in hopes for a more pumpkin-y bagel.

 

Another regret. The only thing is, I may have to make a choice between this and the pumpkin spice spread, because I know I’ll be getting the Philadelphia cream cheese again and don’t want too many spreads when I will not have enough products. It all depends on which two I find first.

 

This wine claims to not be strong in the pumpkin flavoring, which, if what I tried this year is “strong pumpkin flavoring” in a wine, I’m more than willing to give this one a chance.

 

I couldn’t find these, but I’ll be so happy when I do because I love TLC bars as a snack or breakfast.

 

Woodchuck is a good time, so I figure I’ll step up my cider game.

 

The pumpkin was so good that I would hope these are also wonderful. I don’t know which one I’ll end up buying this year and which one next, unless I share with my future roommates and a whole gallon is practical. I’m getting slow churned though for caloric purposes.

 

The calories in this terrify me, but it’s the baby of my two favorite holiday foods. I’ll just be in the gym a lot the week I consume this.

 

This could be really good or really bad, but I love the gingerbread crust idea as well as this brand of lemon bars. So it’s worth a shot. I’ll probably make this for myself and my future roommates so that I’m not stuck with an entire batch.

 

I don’t like beer, but my Great Imperial Pumpkin Beer experience turned out well. And I always neglect maple in the holidays even though it’s just as seasonal and I do enjoy it (as your local coffee place if they have maple spice syrup. tastes great in chai). So maybe I’ll like maple beer as much as pumpkin beer.

 

This ale is supposed to be made with quite a bit of pumpkin, and the Great Imperial Pumpkin Ale made me adventurous. Hopefully I like it.

 

I think this is a decent list. I probably will not get the opportunity to try all of this, but as many as I can consume and find I will!

The Worst of 2011

I figure I should let everyone know what I think they should stay away from during the holiday season, most of which I did not review. I’ll try nearly any seasonal food once, but some of these make me wish I saved my money.

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The Dunkin Donuts pumpkin doughnut was just not good. I was so excited because back at home, we have a Dunkin right by my house, making these easily accessible. That was thoroughly disappointing. The look itself took my mom and I aback. The ad made it look like a natural color, but the real thing is bright orange (as featured in the two pictures). BRIGHT. Orange. And then I took a bite and was overwhelmed with spice and really bad imitation pumpkin. But mostly spice. I wouldn’t buy these for someone I’m not fond of. Stay away and get your pumpkin doughnut fix at a Wegman’s if you live near one. You won’t regret it.

 

 

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My old roommate and I freaked out in the middle of our dining facility because they were selling these cute little pumpkin pies before the pumpkin season was really starting. We were pumped to add this to our reunion date which consisted of watching “Thumbelina” and drinking pomegranate apple cider. When we cut this in half and put it on our plates, we were a little skeptical about how smooth the consistency was, but we ate it gingerly anyway. It was very gross. The crust was fine, as all Tastykake crust is, but again I was tortured with really bad, imitation pumpkin! And we never did get over the smooth consistency. At least “Thumbelina” and pomegranate apple cider are good.

 

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As I already mentioned, I was thoroughly disappointed in Panera’s latte. It wasn’t appalling, like most of the food on this list, but I did not taste pumpkin! Just pumpkin pie spice. Either whatever syrup they use is bad or they do not pump enough of it. I’ll still review this again next year though because I get Panera rewards (I love that place) and will probably get a free one.

 

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I would eat one of everything on this list to avoid this experience. I just tried this earlier this week so that I could, again share it with my old roommate – you all are probably thinking we should stop eating pumpkin stuff together by now haha. The smell was pretty funky, undescribably so, and then we tasted it … First, you were hit with a powerful sweetness. And I’m not talking wine sweetness. I’m talking children’s lunch box beverage sweet. Then this horrible aftertaste of something sour. I don’t understand how a wine could be so bad, and now I have almost a whole bottle in my fridge. The only redeeming quality is the kindness of the gentleman you e-mail for online orders. His e-mails are formal but you can tell he wrote them. But this is by far the worst thing I’ve tasted ever, not just seasonally.

 

So try any of these if you like, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.