Fall foods softly blow into Trader Joe’s shelves

The Spiced Chai Black Tea Concentrate and Maple Oat Beverage from Trader Joe’s

Pumpkin spice is all over the place: in our coffee, chocolate and even granola bars. Growing up on Indian food, I’ve never really had adventures into the strange palette of fall foods. However, I do often find myself taking trips to my favorite suburban, wholesome grocery store, Trader Joe’s (TJ’s). 

Around this time of year, TJ’s starts replacing their flower collections with decorative turkey signs and caramel brown ribbons. When you walk in, wafts of cinnamon billow around you, and you can almost feel the warmth radiating from their employees as they rush to offer you a pumpkin pie sample. 

Ready to take a chance on some new tasty treats and eager for an excuse to spend money at Trader Joe’s, I decided to buy some foods and beverages I have determined could be “fall worthy,” and supply my scathing or praising opinions on them.  

I’ve curated a list of criteria to determine if each treat is fall worthy: if it makes me feel like snuggling up in a warm blanket, how badly I want to jump on some crunchy leaves after consumption, and if it acts like a chill, yet welcoming breeze. 

Pictured is the Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies from Trader Joe's in its packet.
The Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies from Trader Joe’s

Spiced Pumpkin Madeleines 

While initially determined to stray away from the basic pumpkin spice flavors of fall treats, I couldn’t help but pick up the Spiced Pumpkin Madeleines. In a pack of six, these madeleines were a deep, brown-orange color, differing from their usual white shade. Now, I am a huge lover of the iconic Donsuemor madeleines from Costco, so I was pumped to see how these held up. 

At first bite, I expected it to melt in my mouth; unfortunately, it mostly just crumbled. The texture was drier than most madeleines I’ve had, but all was not bad. The spiced pumpkin flavor really shone through, and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. The package came with six madeleines, and I finished half of them in the span of 30 minutes. In terms of the Fall Worthiness Scale, it did make me want to jump on some crunchy leaves and snuggle up in a blanket. In all, I give it a two out of three. 

Maple Oat Milk

To preface this, I am a huge lover of oat milk. I’m as passionate about oat milk as some people are for cheese. Coincidentally, my favorite brand happens to be the one from Trader Joe’s. Therefore, naturally, I immediately scooped up the small carton of maple-flavored oat milk from the beverage aisle. 

While I usually only drink oat milk when it’s in my coffee, this maple oat milk only really shines as a one-man act. Not too sweet or overwhelming, the hints of maple made it feel like I was drinking something special. When warmed up and put in hot coffee, the hints of maple don’t mix too well. It mostly tastes like normal coffee with oat milk, but with a strange aftertaste. However, I was happy to discover that it tasted wonderful in iced coffee. You can still taste the maple flavor, so it mixes well. On the Fall Worthiness Scale, I’m going to give it a 1.5, only because I wish it tasted as good warmed up in coffee as it does iced. 

Pictured is a box of the Pumpkin Flavored Joe-Joe's from Trader Joe's and cookies on a plate.
The Trader Joe’s take on pumpkin-flavored Oreos.

Pumpkin Joe Joe’s Sandwich Cookies

TJ’s is known for its iconic spin-offs of beloved brand-name items. I’ve had Joe Joe’s cookies before, and they taste surprisingly like regular Oreos. That being said, I am a staunch opponent of any flavored Oreos because of how artificial they taste. Why would they keep making mediocre versions of the Oreo when the original one is held on a pedestal? But, with my faith so effortlessly placed in the magic of TJ’s, I still picked up a packet of their pumpkin-flavored Joe Joe’s Cookies. 

The actual cookie part of the snack was vanilla, with a very generous amount of pumpkin-flavored frosting. The frosting itself does not taste as artificial as I feared, especially compared to the Pumpkin Spice Oreos that I’ve had in the past. Unfortunately, the good things about them stop there. I found the frosting almost unbearably sugary, and unlike the wonderful crunch of normal Joe Joe’s Sandwich cookies, these cookies were soft and chewy. As opposed to making me feel like snuggling up in a warm blanket, jumping on some crunchy leaves after consumption, and acting like a chill, yet welcoming breeze, these belong in the pile of stale candy corn and bruised apples. 

Spiced Chai, Black Tea Concentrate 

This last item of TJ’s seasonal foods compelled me because of my Indian roots. As someone who makes her own chai from loose black tea almost every day, I couldn’t help but see how this spiced chai concentrate held up. 

When I tell you it was love at first taste, it really was. I followed the directions exactly, pouring one part of the concentrate into two parts of milk, and then I decided to warm it up (it tastes incredible iced too). As opposed to Starbucks’ Chai Tea Latte, the concentrate actually had flavor to it. TJ’s also wasn’t exaggerating when it labeled the chai “spiced.” Obviously, nothing will ever beat making your own chai at home, but this is the closest second that I’ve had in a long time, perfectly balancing the taste of black tea with sugar and spice. This was the epitome of fall, and I plan on stockpiling as many bottles as I can for the winter. It receives the coveted three out of three on the Fall Worthiness Scale.