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Sunday, Nov 18, 2018
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Taste test: Pumpkin spice products

Every fall we see more and more food manufacturers trying to figure out ways to include pumpkin spice in their products. Our panelists put their palates to work this week tasting nine options of pumpkin spiced products. Some were a stretch, but a few options were pretty satisfying. We found plenty more products, but decided to limit the taste to some of the newest pumpkin spiced rollouts.

Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Cookie Straws / 85

Serving size: 1 cookie straw

Calories: 60

Fat/fiber: 2g / 0g

Sugar/sodium: 6g / 20mg

Carbs/protein: 10g / 1g

Judges' comments: Judges loved these cookie straws, saying they would be great afternoon treats, tea time snacks or perfect as dessert toppings. "I like that they are individually wrapped and long and elegant looking with chocolate swirls and lined with white chocolate," said one panelist. "They have a good snap and really nice flavor." Another said, "What a nice cookie for coffee time - festive, nice and crunchy, and the flavor of pumpkin is nicely balanced." A judge who would enjoy these with a tall glass of milk described the cookie straws as "addictive."

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $6.98 for a 20-ounce can from Walmart.

BelVita Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Biscuits / 83

Serving size: 1 pack

Calories: 70

Fat/fiber: 8g / 3g

Sugar/sodium: 11g / 220mg

Carbs/protein: 36g / 4g

Judges' comments: Already fans of the BelVita biscuits, our tasters enjoyed the pumpkin spice option, saying they had a subtle but "favorable blend" of spices. "A dollop of cream cheese or a slice of cheese on top of these would be excellent," said one judge. Another said she liked the individual packaging of four biscuits to a pack. "These have good pumpkin flavor and a nice texture of bran flakes like digestive biscuits," she said. "These would make a great pie crust."

Would they buy? All four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $2.89 for an 8-ounce box of five 1.76-ounce packs from Publix.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Swirl Bread / 76

Serving size: 1 slice

Calories: 110

Fat/fiber: 1.5g / 0g

Sugar/sodium: 7g / 120mg

Carbs/protein: 22g / 3g

Judges' comments: If cooking breakfast on Thanksgiving morning is on the agenda at your house, our judges recommend using this bread for a delicious French toast. "It tastes similar to cinnamon swirl bread and I think it would be great toasted with butter," said one panelist. "It looks like raisin swirl bread with a thicker cut and tiny pieces of pumpkin in lieu of raisins," said another. "It would make killer French toast or be great toasted in any way to a crisp texture."

Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes.

Shopping information: $2.98 for a 16-ounce loaf from Walmart.

Also sampled: Werther's Pumpkin Spice Original Soft Caramels ($3.99 for a 9.4-ounce bag from Target, 60 points); Dannon Light and Fit Pumpkin Spice Original Greek Yogurt ($1 for a 5.3-ounce tub from Walmart, 49 points); Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Almond Beverage ($1.99 for a 32-ounce carton, 46 points); Nestle Pumpkin Spice Coffee-Mate ($1.29 for a 32-ounce bottle from Target, 45 points); Tazo Chai Pumpkin Spice Tea ($3.29 for a 1.8-ounce box of 20 black tea bags, 45 points); and Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows ($1.29 for an 8-ounce bag from Target, 31 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Elaine Cloud Goller, writer, director, performer and Realtor; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic.

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