An Open Letter to Trader Joe's: You Need to Calm Down with the Pumpkin

Dear Trader Joe’s:

You’re great, but you have crossed the line.

We have stood by you and even sung your praises through the years because, honestly, we take full advantage of your convenience and charm.

We love the frozen mini pies, the magic of Biscoff spread, and your surprisingly above-average frozen Indian food selections. We’ll even admit we indulge in your $5 wine selection maybe more than just occasionally.

We turned a blind eye when the mango tsunami hit over the summer. We still don’t get it, but we let it slide. (Seriously, does anyone actually like mango that much?) And when the temps dropped to the high 90s, we knew the onslaught of fall flavors was coming.

But we were not prepared for the shenanigans you have pulled this time. 

Sorry, but pumpkin spice is not a universal flavor that should be imparted on any and all food products. You’re better than this, Trader Joe’s. Or should we say Traitor Joe’s, the way you’ve completely disregarded your customers’ desire for gastronomic diversity?

Sure, Starbucks has shoved pumpkin spice-flavored coffee down our throats for enough years that we actually kind of look forward to those overly sweet, aggressively orange concoctions.

And even mainstream grocery stores have decided that come October, decorative gourds are all people actually look for in the produce section.

But the second that some capitalizing schmuck in a suit ordered an overly eager food scientist to devise a way to inject pumpkin spice into tortilla chips, we knew we had to say something. Pumpkin tortilla chips and fall harvest salsa? Is nothing sacred anymore?
How did you even decide which products should be honored with the oh-so-coveted pumpkin upgrade? Sure, cream cheese and cinnamon rolls seem obvious, but what's up with the pumpkin vinaigrette and pasta sauce?

It seems like you just opened up last month’s Fearless Flyer and started throwing darts.

The worst part is we’re sure these abominations are selling purely due to people’s curiosity. “Wait, what? Yeah, okay, I’ll give it a try” might as well be your new slogan. Slap that on your excellently designed reusable bags.

TJ's, there is good news. There is an opportunity for you in all of this. Pumpkin is so 2014, but how about blazing the fall fad flavor trail with something we’re sure people won’t see coming? We're no experts, but we're thinking persimmons.

Year after year, persimmons have been passed over as the choice flavor of autumn. But we think it’s persimmons’ time to shine, or at least glow under the fluorescent lights of your stores.

Take this opportunity, TJ’s, and be remembered as the store that broke the mold, shattered the glass ceiling of fad-driven consumerism, stood up for the lesser-known seasonal ingredient.

But for the love of all things convenient and pre-packaged, please move on and keep pumpkin out of our damn chips and salsa. 

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Evie Carpenter is a visual journalist. Using photography, videography, design, and sometimes words, she tells stories she hopes make a bit of difference in the world, even if those stories are in list form and include GIFs.
Contact: Evie Carpenter