I’m getting into the fall Trader Joe’s stuff kind of late but I think there is still some time to find some of these items. Most of this is new to me this year but I have a few items that are repurchases and a couple of the newer things turned out to be very enjoyable and things I’d recommend. Below I’ve got mini reviews of all these and I let you know what I think is worth picking up while you can.
Harvest Blend Herbal Tea – $2.49
This reminds me of the Celestial Seasonings Apple Cinnamon Tea, which I was planning on buying to enjoy this fall, but I ended up with this one first. All for the better because this one’s a bit cheaper too. I like that this is a way to enjoy a warm drink without adding more caffeine to my already over-caffeinated system. It has a mildly sweet apple taste and the cinnamon adds a pleasant spicy warmth. There are several other ingredients but they don’t really stand out to me. It helps to let the bag soak for longer than you might think and maybe even help release the flavors from the the bag by pressing on it with a spoon. As my tea cools off, the flavor comes out even more. I think this one’s worth picking up (maybe several of them), if you like the one from Celestial Seasonings.
Salted Caramel Hot Cocoa – $5.49
This one is a repurchase. I got this last year and enjoyed how it was more flavorful than the typical brands you find in grocery stores. My favorite way to drink this was to heat up some almond milk in the microwave and stir a scoop in. Super easy and tastes more special than the price and prep make it seem.
Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee – $6.99
So far I’ve had two cups of this. As soon as I opened the bag I could smell the chocolate hazelnut scent which was noticeable but not overpowering. I got that same aroma as it brewed and felt the flavor was what I was expecting based on those things. So far I’ve only tried a small sip of it black, which I remember being somewhat strong, more like a medium roast with a good amount of flavor and not too much bitterness. There was no hint of it being old or having sat a shelf for too long. The chocolate smell is more noticeable than the taste and the flavor is heavier on hazelnut. In general the added flavors are pretty mild but the coffee itself has a nice taste. I hardly notice chocolate at all drinking this black and only a hint of hazelnut. Adding plain cream further diminishes the added flavors but a teaspoon of sugar helps being them back out. I don’t think this is bad and I can’t complain about the price but I’m not sure it’s really worth going out of your way for.
Pumpkin Brioche Twist – $4.99
This is the second loaf of this I’ve purchased this season lol. Eaten straight from the bag, it’s a little dry and spongey but I found giving it a quick light toasting vastly improves the texture as does adding a bit of salted butter. It has a very mild sweetness to it and swirls of cinnamon throughout the loaf, especially on the bottom. I think that cinnamon is what really makes this with it is and I kind of wish there was a bit more of it. There’s a paper lining along the bottom of the loaf that needs to be peeled off and a thin layer of the bread and cinnamon swirl sticks to it. It cooks up fine as french toast but the slices are thicker than regular bread so if you soak up too much egg, you’ll have to cook it longer. Prepared this way, it ends up not being all that much more flavorful than the bread straight out of the bag.
Pumpkin Blondie Brownies – $4.49
I’m not really drawn to brownies so this one wasn’t something that initially called to me. They don’t really remind me of brownies at all though and have a cakier texture without the crisp edges or tops brownies usually do. These had a soft, moist dough that was fairly sweet (sweeter than some of the other things I’ve tried), ever so slightly tangy and a tiny bit spicy. It has a good amount of small pecan chunks throughout but I didn’t find any white chocolate chips at all. The drizzly topping tastes like cream cheese frosting but there’s not much of it and I picked out one that seemed to have more of it. One tiny square was more than satisfying enough. Overall, better than I expected it to be.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookie Mix – $4.99
This is another repurchase that I first tried this year. These are somewhat like oatmeal cookies in texture but the pumpkin, spices and especially the chocolate, are pretty noticeable too. Baking according to directions, they turned out soft but held together well and kept their texture well stored for a few days in a covered container on the counter. The chocolate chunks are a good medium size and have a somewhat intense semi sweet chocolate flavor. This is not a flavor combo I usually think of but it was actually really good.
Pumpkin Spice Batons – $2.29
These are like little straw-shaped cookies with a crispy outside wafer that gives way to a creamy pumpkin spice filling. I enjoy both the texture of the crisp cookie and the lightly sweet and spicy inside. There’s a bit more spice flavor in this than some of the other seasonal things I’ve tried so far but still nothing too intense or too sweet. They seem to disappear before I realize it both physically and from memory. They’re good, enjoyable, no complaints, but they don’t really stand out as remarkable to me.
Pumpkin Cranberry Crisps – $3.99
These have a lot of flavor and a good balance of sweet and I guess savory. They aren’t really salty but it seems there is enough salt in here to help counter the sweetness of the cranberry bits and light sweetness of the dough. I notice rosemary unexpectedly, a slight spiciness, and what I originally thought was molasses, but this is not listed as an ingredient, so maybe it’s the brown sugar. These are small and pretty thinly sliced which is good because they are very crunchy but not too hard to chew. So far really liking the complex flavor of these.
Cinnamon Toscano – $6.70
I’m not a cheese snob lol so forgive my description here. The cheese itself is like an elevated parmesan with a stronger, purer flavor than cheaper options I’ve tried and a firmer, drier, but easy-to-slice-through texture and the cinnamon is most strongly concentrated on the bottom of the block. Every so often I bite into what feels like a small crystallized area. I didn’t expect much of the cinnamon but it does complement the flavor of the cheese nicely. It doesn’t add any sweetness or even spiciness but just kind of neutralizes the tang of the cheese. I’m not sure the cinnamon really adds enough holiday flair for me but I don’t mind having tried the cheese. I believe they carry toscano (without the cinnamon) the rest of the year and would consider picking it up again in the future as a treat.
Honey Hydration Day and Night Cream Duo – $7.99
This is new to me and it doesn’t seem very fall/holiday themed but I thought it seemed like a good deal and decided to give it a try. The packaging is similar to some of Farmacy’s products but I don’t use them so I can’t tell you how similar they might be. Taking a glance at the ingredients, though, they seem significantly different so I doubt they are dupes. So far I’ve had these for about two days and have briefly tried them. The night cream is slightly thicker than the day cream and both seem much richer and more occlusive than the Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer. I tried both by themselves without the help of any other serums or oils and they seemed to do plenty to keep my skin hydrated and comfortable. I didn’t feel my skin getting tight after they absorbed and they didn’t leave a greasy texture behind either. They have a noticeable but light honey scent. So far the only downside is that I didn’t feel makeup applied well over the day cream, but I’ve only tried it once, which doesn’t say all that much.
Pumpkin Body Butter – $4.99
I’ve been using this body butter for many years and buy a couple of them every fall to savor throughout the year. This is similar to their Coconut Body Butter but it’s a little thicker and even better for when my skin is at its driest mid-winter. The scent of this is less pumpkin and more apple to me, or a combo or both, perhaps. It’s sweet and bright, similar to the Honeycrisp Apple Candle, and isn’t so heavy that I feel that people around me would be bothered by it.
Pumpkin Body Scrub – $6.99
The scent of this body scrub is similar to that of the Vanilla Pumpkin Hand Soap and Lotion Duo but less intense and more caramel-y. It’s not super liquidy and holds its shape in the container as I scrape a bit out to use. There is plenty of sugar and the granules are medium coarse but they dissolve rather quickly as I massage it over skin. What remains after is a slightly slippery coating with barely a hint of oiliness that really isn’t enough to take the place of moisturizing my body after showering. This is not similar at all to the Trader Joe’s Lavender Salt Scrub which is much oilier and leaves a thick residue on the skin, plus the salt in that stays solid during use for longer and can sting if you’ve got any nicks from shaving. I like this but it’s another product I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way for.
Pumpkin Overnight Face Mask – $6.99
This is a repurchase. I bought one to try last year and by the time I decided it was amazing, it was gone for the season. I don’t use this as a face mask – I use it as an exfoliating moisturizer. It has a gel-cream texture that is more hydrating and a tiny bit more emollient than my usual Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizer. I like to use it in combination with squalane oil to give it an extra moisturizing boost. It has glycolic acid and the enzyme papain, both chemical exfoliants. I only use a tiny bit to cover the majority of my face and it absorbs in without leaving too much of a tack to the skin so I can still use it in the morning before applying makeup. I feel the faintest zing of the glycolic acid on my skin upon application but I don’t find it causes redness or irritation. One downside to using it this way is that it can cause my eyes to burn and water a bit if I am not careful to keep it away from that area.
Vanilla Pumpkin Hand Soap and Hand Lotion Set – $7.99
This was one of those products I didn’t have super high expectations of. Most of these types of scented hand care duos that I’ve tried before have had seemingly the cheapest quality soap and lotion with odd, weak scents that didn’t really match the description. The soap in this one seems decent, it’s somewhat liquidy but seems to clean up cooking muck from my hands well nonetheless. The lotion is richer than I expected, absorbs well, and doesn’t leave a greasy after feel. It’s not too thin or watered down and my hands feel nicely moisturized/protected for quite a while after using it. The scent is not at all what I thought it would be. It’s sweet and has a depth and roundness that reminds me of a graham cracker crust. It’s yummy but the vanilla and pumpkin come through less than that initial deeply sweet note. I think this is worth grabbing for the quality of the lotion and the somewhat unique scent.
Honeycrisp Apple Scented Candle – $3.99
For as tiny as this candle is, the scent is strong and does not disappoint. Burning it for about an hour filled a large room with a noticeable but not headache-inducing amount of fragrance. I recommend this one if you like this type of scent and are into candles. It’s a single-note sweet, tart, apple scent that is convincingly authentic. I don’t notice anything else in here like cinnamon or vanilla.