FARGO — Full disclosure — this story was supposed to be much different than what you're reading here.
For the last year or so here on "The Scoop with Tracy Briggs," we've given you the lowdown on the hottest tastes and trends. When I saw Hormel was introducing Pumpkin Spice Spam, I was intrigued (and maybe slightly mortified). This sounded like just the kind of weird trend we could cover. Alas, it was not meant to be.
Pumpkin Spice Spam was set to go on sale solely online on Sept. 23rd at spam.com and walmart.com. If I were to run a story the week the product came out (as would be the newsy thing to do), I'd have to get my hands on the Spam early. I emailed their media relations people and was told, "Unfortunately we aren’t able to send product before launch day."
Huge bummer, especially since some other media organizations did get their hands on the product early. Delish, Food and Wine and The Daily Mail all wrote reviews this summer. I know these are major players in the food world. But I still felt like I was back at Clara Barton Elementary School being picked last for the kickball team. Heck, I wasn't even invited to play. I shook it off and nevertheless persisted.
Plan B would be to go online like everyone else on Sept. 23 — and I do mean "everyone else." Pumpkin Spice Spam sold out in a couple of hours online, and I never did find it on Walmart's site. I even stopped out to a Walmart in Fargo, just in case they might have a misplaced can there. No luck.
Then I thought, why am I trying so hard to find a product that seems iffy at best, when there are literally hundreds of pumpkin spice products in my own town, some of which might be totally spicetastic? I walked into a local Hornbacher's grocery store to see just how long it would take me to find pumpkin spice products to try.
Turns out, not very long. In just five minutes, I found at least 10 pumpkin spice products. I selected five, all of which were breakfast-related, for a taste test.
I recruited a couple of co-workers to help me decide which of these products was best and which we could leave behind. Watch our video here to see what we thought.
I asked the taste testers — pumpkin spice lover Emma Vatnsdal and pumpkin spice newbie Aimee Mitchell — to rate each product from 1 to 5 pumpkins in order of yumminess. Here's what we thought:
In fifth place, Chobani's pumpkin spice yogurt. With an average of 1 out of 5 pumpkins. I'm a big fan of Chobani — both the company and the products. One of my favorite breakfasts is their plain yogurt topped with a little granola and honey. Super yummy. But I thought the pumpkin spice flavor fell a little short. It had the tart sourness of the plain yogurt I like, but adding the pumpkin spice seasoning muddied the flavor. Emma said, "It's really sour!" Aimee just wrote, "NO, NO, NO."
In fourth place: Pumpkin Spice Cheerios with 2 pumpkins. General Mills calls its cereal made with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove "fall in a box." We ate the cereal by the handful like a toddler in the back seat of the minivan. Emma and I thought the pumpkin spice flavoring was too subtle. "Where's the pumpkin?" she said (kind of like Clara Peller in the old Wendy's commercial).
However, perhaps adding milk to the Pumpkin Spice Cheerios would would have woken up the spices. I've also heard they make a nice marshmallow treat.
Speaking of marshmallow treats, in third place with 2.5 pumpkins was Pumpkin Pie Rice Krispies Treats. The individually wrapped treats have a toasty brown color and icing on top. It's a pleasant enough taste, but we all agreed when you can turn Rice Krispies into Scotcheroo bars, why wouldn't you? Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispies seem like an unnecessary detour in the path to Scotcheroo nirvana (which undoubtedly is somewhere in the Midwest, right?).
In second place with 3 pumpkins was the Pumpkin Caramel Oui French-style yogurt. Both Emma and I liked the sweetness of the caramel and the texture of the yogurt, and the packaging of the product couldn't be cuter.
And in first place with 5 pumpkins: the Essential Everyday brand Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese. You might be put off by the weird, almost rusty color, but it's super rich in flavor and tasted fabulous on the plain bagel. We could imagine how flavorful it would be on a toasted cinnamon bagel. Or even better, used to make a cheesecake. As Emma said, "Oh Halloween Yeah, Brother! Yum!"
We'll catch you next time, Pumpkin Spice Spam. In the meantime, we'll just be over here eating our bagels and cream cheese.