DAY 2: Dunkin Donuts - All Pumpkin Everything

My 90 minute commute every day for the past few years has taught me two important lessons. The first is to avoid the traffic on the Garden State Parkway at all costs, either by leaving before 7am or after 9am. The second is that buying coffee regularly for the drive is an easy way to spend a lot of money. But even so, I always make an exception during pumpkin season.

*Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Dunkin Donuts, I purchased these items on my own, and I am not being compensated for my review.

DAY 2: Dunkin Donuts - All Pumpkin Everything

Items: Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Spice Swirl Coffee, Pumpkin Munchkins, and Whole Wheat Bagel with Pumpkin Cream Cheese.
Cost: $2.14 (coffee), $0.99 (5 Munchkins), $2.39 (Bagel)
Purchase Location: Dunkin Donuts (obviously)

[Special Note: The entirety of today’s taste test took place in my car, when a normally 75-90 minute commute ended up at 2 hours because of major delays on New Jersey’s highways.]

There are a lot of coffee places around me, but Dunkin Donuts holds a special place in my heart. I have been going to the same DD since high school, and have developed a level of familiarity with the staff. At this point, they are WELL aware of my tendency to order pumpkin coffee year round (when available), so I wasn’t surprised when the cashier recommended ordering a bagel with their new pumpkin cream cheese because, “It seems like something you would enjoy.” I decided to lean in, added that and 5 pumpkin munchkins to go, and left with my head held high.

[In the interest of full disclosure, I ate the bagel and munchkins without taking pictures for this post first, so I went back and picked up another order of each on my way know, for the blog.]

I began my pumpkin-flavored journey at 6:30 am. By this time, I was already in the throes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, so I figured it was safe enough to break out my bagel to keep me company.

Opening the paper wrapper, the very first thing I noticed was the color of the spread. It is orange. Very orange. The kind of orange that made me nervous about wearing a white shirt. (Update: After I got home, I tried to find an ingredient list for the cream cheese to see if the coloration is from actual pumpkin or just a dye, but didn’t have any luck. At this point, I am inclined to believe that it’s food coloring.)

At first bite, the cream cheese has more of a flavor and texture of pumpkin pie filling than cream cheese. The traditional seasonings of pumpkin spice weren’t really there initially, but came through in the aftertaste. The combined texture and level of sweetness made so that the spread didn’t even really taste like cream cheese. I kept eating it though, with the hopes that my feelings would change. They did not.

Rating: 1/5 pumpkins.

By 7:30, I’m on the GSP, so I decide to wash down my disappointment with something that I know I can always count on: DD pumpkin coffee. For the purposes of this review, I went pumpkin+light cream to cut the sweetness. (The pumpkin swirl at DD is very sweet on its own, so if you are ordering, I would recommend going only pumpkin swirl, or pumpkin swirl with a little cream.)

As soon as I popped the top on the lid, I was hit with the familiar smell of the pumpkin swirl. DD does a good job with the flavor of this syrup. It tastes like what I feel pumpkin spice should, with all of the regular seasonings showing up. Honestly, the major/only knock on it is the level of sweetness, which can be a bit much if they are really generous with the pumps. In my youth, I drank this multiple times a week during pumpkin season. Now in my late 20s, I think I could handle it at most once or twice a week.

Still, this coffee is a hit.

Rating: 5/5 pumpkins.

At 8:00 am, the sugar rush from the pumpkin cream cheese and coffee has subsided. I am still on the Parkway, and my exit is a faint green square in the distance. Realizing that I need a jolt to get me through these last 5 miles, I turn to the pumpkin munchkins on my passenger seat.

I prefer munchkins to donuts because even though they are just as calorically dense (60 calories a bite, don’t let the size fool you), I feel less guilty when I pace out the inhalation of 5 munchkins over 10 minutes instead of 1 donut in 30 seconds.

These pumpkin munchkins are also glazed, so it takes a second for the initial wave of sweet to pass before you can actually taste the cake. They aren’t as pumpkin spice-y as the cream cheese or coffee, but still have the bite of cinnamon and clove. After two, I was pretty much over them and ended up giving the rest away.

Rating: 2/5 pumpkins.

The time is 8:15 am. For the last 15 minutes of my drive, I reflect on the other big move that DD is making by pushing maple-pecan flavored products for the first time.

This is a common strategy that I have noticed from a lot of retailers, including Starbucks which introduced a Maple-Pecan Latte this season. I suppose they realize that people are starting to fatigue from constantly consuming pumpkin spice products.

The reviews so far have been pretty positive, but you have to wonder if maple-pecan will have the same staying power as pumpkin. For over a decade, retailers have been working to install pumpkin spice as the go-to flavor of the fall, and this marketing has been pretty successful in making it a part of mainstream culture. I find it difficult to imagine people going for a new flavor so easily, especially when pumpkin spice is something that has been a constant presence for many peoples’ entire coffee-drinking lives.

The time is now 8:30 am, and I have finally made it to the office. With pumpkin coursing through my veins, I feel ready to attack the day.


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