There are no pumpkin spice jokes left to be made, are there? Yes, it’s everywhere. Yes, people have found some preposterous things to infuse with it. But who cares? It’s popular because it’s a delicious signifier of autumn’s arrival. You may have already come across 57,346,922 pumpkin spice junk food items this season, but let’s enter this review with an open mind free of cynicism!
When I read that Hostess had introduced Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cup Cakes this year, I was pretty jazzed. Much like the back-to-school/Halloween/Thanksgiving season in general, Hostess snacks inspire a sense of comfort and nostalgia in me. (Plus I’d recently experienced a renewed interest in Hostess products last year after their shameless, but effective, product placement with X-Men: Days of Future Past. Darn you, bizarre marketing tie-ins.)
After failing to locate them at nearby grocery stores, I eventually discovered the cupcakes in the seasonal section at Target. When I finally got them home and tried them out, I found that my expectations remained generally undashed.
To begin, I don’t want to say that their smell is overpowering, but it’s certainly bold, and it permeates the room from the moment you open the box (even though each cake is sealed in an airtight wrapper!). I’m talking Glade-levels of scent here, which, if you truly enjoy the aroma of clove and nutmeg, then yay!
Visually, the cakes were slightly disappointing. The lot I got was sort of pathetically misshapen, tinier than one might anticipate, and they featured a meager number of sprinkles on each cake. The fondant-style icing was also kind of brittle, but I suppose that’s to be expected when you’re dealing with factory-produced pastries.
Before fully biting in, I sampled each separate component (icing, cake, sprinkle, filling) so I that I could taste their flavors individually before experiencing how they worked together. Turns out that fastidiousness was all in vain; as indicated by their scent, these things are pumpkin spice cherry bombs with a flavor so, um, robust that it’s impossible to discern the various tastes because the pumpkin spice overrides them all.
What’s more, these cupcakes are rich. Like, really rich. I couldn’t even finish two of them, and I’m somebody who has no problem polishing off a pint of ice cream in mere minutes. Don’t think of the “one cake” serving size listed in the nutrition facts as a suggestion – consider it a prescription dosage to be observed for your personal welfare.
Still, the cakes aren’t bad, just dangerously potent. And there’s plenty of positive things to say about them: They’re surprisingly, almost logic-defyingly moist, and the creme filling has that trademark Hostess velvety whip feel to it which complements the pumpkin spice flavor quite well. Also, the crunchy sprinkles, crisp icing, and pillowy cake work well together to create an enjoyable combination of textures. So long as you don’t overindulge, these cakes are actually quite good.
To the diehard pumpkin spice junk food fanatics, these bad boys should be very close to, if not right up, your alley. There’s no nuanced flavor here – just pure, uncorrupted autumnal essence. I may have struggled with them, but the truth is that they’re nothing more and nothing less than what I’d imagined when I read the words “pumpkin,” “spice,” and “Hostess” together in one product description. Enjoy in moderation – and with moderate expectations – and they’re unlikely to disappoint.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)
Item: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cup Cakes
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8 cakes
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Consistent Hostess quality. One box should last you a while. Limited edition seasonal foods are just plain old fun.
Cons: Likely too sweet and pumpkin spice-y for some. Easy to overindulge. Smells like a Yankee Candle.