It has come to pass that the fall season is now synonymous with pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavoring in foods and beverages. What started out as a trickle of specialty products a few years ago has become a flood, and it's not limited to coffee shops and full-service supermarkets any more - even discount supermarkets like ALDI are riding the gravy train.
On a recent trip to ALDI, I rounded up a selection of pumpkin products for review. Unless otherwise noted, all of the brand names mentioned are ALDI house brands. All, if not most, of these products should be available in your local ALDI through the autumn season:
|Clockwise, from top left: Pumpkin Spice Milk, Pumpkin Cider, Pumpkin Spice Bark, Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee, Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows|
Friendly Farms Pumpkin Spice Milk: Practically indistinguishable from eggnog, except for a slight pumpkin flavor added and, of course, orange coloring. Even the ingredients (cream, egg yolk solids, etc.) are identical to most other commercial eggnogs. Sweet and thick. Good as a vehicle for rum or brandy or as a coffee creamer, but if you are not a nog fan you're not going to like this stuff.
Nature's Nectar Pumpkin Cider: This is one of those sick products that make shopping at ALDI an adventure. Put up in resealable ceramic-cork beer bottles for extra coolness points, Pumpkin Cider is made of sweet apple cider, pumpkin flavoring, ginger, and spices. It tastes rather like ginger ale made with a cider base and a hint of nutmeg. Unfortunately, they also add a ton of sugar so it's sickeningly sweet. They would have a much better product had they simply allowed the apple cider to provide the sweetness.
Specially Selected Pumpkin Spice Bark: Thick slabs of white confection swirled with orange coloring and sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. The makers want to evoke white chocolate here but there isn't any cocoa butter to be found, leaving us with bars of what is basically solid white cinnamon/nutmeg flavored frosting. Pleasant enough in it's own bland way, but not very exciting.
Beaumont Pumpkin Spice Iced Coffee: Beaumont bottled iced coffees are very high quality and stand up well to the pricier Starbucks versions they are intended to imitate. This Pumpkin Spice version is mild and smooth, with decent pumpkin flavor and well-proportioned spice flavors. Lynnafred, a fan of bottled ice coffee, thought this Beaumont flavor was very good.
Baker's Corner Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows: They're soft and squishy and they taste like oversweetened pumpkin pie - fairly typical for marshmallows, actually.