REVIEW: Graeter’s Limited Edition Pumpkin

While it’s relatively commonplace to find fun seasonal flavors from all the big players in the grocery ice cream game like Breyer’s, Dreyer’s, Haagen Dazs, and Ben & Jerry’s, it’s a much more rare feat to come across a higher end brand sneaking a seasonal release into the frozen aisle. Oftentimes a craft-leaning brand will only get the most likely to sell and core flavors at a store, maybe 4 or 5 varieties tops, and all the special ones will need to be ordered online or picked up at a (non-existent on this coast) scoop shop. A fortunate outlier to this equation has popped up, likely due to the mainstream infatuation with everything pumpkin, and at my local Whole Foods I was able to score Graeter’s spin on the trendy flavor, simply dubbed, Limited Edition Pumpkin.

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As expected from a super premium high fat ice cream, the texture is incredibly smooth, creamy, and dense. The flavor is sweet, subtly spicy, and mostly notably pumpkin-pronounced. The finishing note is pure squashy goodness and carries one of the most authentic and vegetal pumpkin flavors I’ve ever had in ice cream. There are notes of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, but they definitely take a backseat to the gourd-forward ensemble of flavors in the container.

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It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Graeter’s, a company that prides itself on presenting classic, mostly refined and uncomplicated flavors executed with pure richness, went a very straight forward route with their pumpkin ice cream. The flavor is simply called “Pumpkin” and not “Pumpkin Pie” or “Pumpkin Spice”, so the spice being more of an undertone is exactly as advertised; but it also limits how good this ice cream can be. Similar to a very well executed vanilla, no matter how good it is it can’t compete with more complex flavors that incorporate multiple textures, mix-ins, and techniques to create a more engaging pint.

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I would love to see a company with very high quality base ice cream like Graeter’s incorporate a caramel swirl or a white chocolate spin on their renowned chocolate chips to bring some extra textural contrast and depth to their fantastic pumpkin flavor. I don’t want to call this one “boring” because it’s very well done, but it isn’t the type of pint I need to seek out year after year as it does’t satisfy any urge a solid pumpkin pie filling can do perfectly well – especially at the higher price point.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: Whole Foods ($6.99)

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REVIEW: Dreyers Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

Call me basic, call me a white girl, call me predicable, call me whatever – I love pumpkin spice. Not just pumpkin spice, but all things with that lovely spicy-sweet balance that make the autumn birds sing. As big of a fan of the profile I am, I’m not the biggest enthusiast of the crowning jewel of Basic B University – the pumpkin spice latte. While I definitely enjoy having one per year on a crisp fall day over an engaging game of chess, once I have that one I’m good to go, and go back to being a straight-to-the-face coffee purist.

The pumpkin spice backlash can be traced back to the explosion of the PSL in the early 2000’s, with a popularity that exceeded expectations and shook creators of seasonal products to their very core. After a huge wave of companies copying Starbucks’ success, the flavors crept their way into a wash of products that made little to no sense, and thus, the August through October consumer pumpkin onslaught was born. Apparently ten or so years late to the party, Dreyers rolled out a new cafe-inspired quart for 2017 with Pumpkin Spice Latte, which combines pumpkin spice and coffee flavored light ice creams.

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The flavor of the pumpkin ice cream is actually pretty good. It’s mellow and sweet, driven by authentic pumpkin and sparkly ginger notes with dashes of cinnamon and nutmeg – all of which are listed in the actual ingredients. There are smooth vanilla undertones to the profile that channel the creamy milkiness of a latte, but unfortunately the other part of the latte, the espresso, is strongly represented as well, and doesn’t quite work for me.

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The coffee ice cream has a genuine coffee presence that is impressive but teeters too close to bitter for my taste in a sweet treat, throwing off the lovely balance made by the pumpkin. The darker coffee ice cream is much more prominent in the container and as soon as it comes in contact with the pumpkin either washes it out entirely or creates an unpleasant spicy-bitter combination that is simply not that enjoyable. It needs some kind of caramel swirl or other creamy-sweet component to marry the two flavors together and work more seamlessly, but as it is presented it feels more like the two bases are fighting each other with no cohesion.

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Texturally this ice cream is the par the course for lower quality low fat varieties, with that odd gummy sensation that requires a bit more chewing than what I want from a scoop with no mix-ins. It’s not the most offensively gummy ice cream I’ve had, but it’s definitely miles away from super premium that’s more airy than it is dense, and at under 3 grams of fat per serving you can only hope for so much. Even though it isn’t listed as such, the macros and overall vibe of the product are much more in line with the Slow Churned variety than Dreyers Grand. 

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While the texture isn’t sexy smooth and the zero mix-ins makes it a little boring, the real issue with this flavor is in the execution of balancing all the complex flavors of a pumpkin spice latte. When the legions of teens flock to Starbucks for their PSL’s they aren’t looking for a drink that actually tastes like coffee, and this frozen iteration on the warm drink brings coffee too much into the foreground. Sweetness, creaminess, and a hint of spiciness should all be driving the profile of the coveted scarf-laden beverage, and instead the strong-armed character of bitter roasted beans comes out on top, and makes this seasonal release from Dreyers a bit of a miss.

Rating: 5.5/10
Found at: Target ($3.99)

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