I have found that the term “pumpkin spice” generally means one of three things: (1) real pumpkin and spices, (2) artificial pumpkin flavor and spices, and (3) just spices. In my experience, the items that have actual pumpkin are almost always better than those without. (Pumpkin Spice Cheerios > Pumpkin Spice Life.)
These Limited Edition Nature Valley Crunchy Pumpkin Spice Granola Bars have real pumpkin flakes, but unfortunately, they don’t follow that pattern.
There’s nothing particularly egregious about these bars. It’s just that they don’t meet expectations. I shared a pack with my coworker, and he said, “If I were blindfolded, I couldn’t tell these from the Oats ’n Honey ones.”
If you’ve had that green-wrapped variety, you know what you’re getting with the pumpkin spice version—very crunchy, very dry, and crumbs all over the place. I ate mine with milk because they’re so dry. There is a little bit of spice to it, but not a lot, and I don’t detect the pumpkin at all.
Since the Nature Valley commercials always show people doing something outdoorsy while they consume these, I took my second pack on a short trail run. I thought the dryness would not be suitable for the outdoors, but on the contrary, I found the crunchiness and oat-y flavor surprisingly pleasant in nature, and it didn’t matter if the crumbs made a mess! Still wouldn’t be my first choice, though.
Kashi makes their own Pumpkin Spice Flax Crunchy Granola Bars, which they sell year round (although they seem to be getting harder to find). Even though those don’t have pumpkin flesh in them, I recommend the Kashi version over Nature Valley. They’re very similar, but I think Kashi has more spice, and it has more protein and fiber and fewer calories.
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 6 2-bar packs
Purchased at: Smith’s (Kroger)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 bars) 190 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbs, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.