And these Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels are a prime example of the trend gone wild. Look: there's absolutely no reason why this product should exist. I'll tell you exactly what this is: a nifty little box throwing out as many buzzwords as it can in an effort to part you from $5 in exchange for twelve bites of some of the most awful candy you'll ever try. Even if you like pumpkin spice.
Pumpkin caramel can work for some at least...and Sandy did make a decent pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it, so all that can work. But when all those elements get tossed all together with no real regard...blecch. The caramel reservoirs hold a smooth, rich, creamy center that tends to ooze a little more than what's in our picture, but it sports a hefty pumpkin pie-y flavor level that hits too hard then leaves a funky, almost chemically aftertaste. I'd liken it quite happily to what a dollar store Yankee Candle knockoff must taste like - just too much, too over the top, with no real attempt at subtlety or restraint that would help rein in everything. Honestly, it made my mouth and stomach feel funny, too.
So in short: Take decent dark chocolate. Add molten generic fall-themed candle and a pile of salt from your winter driveway stash. Insert in mouth. Chances are, you'll be happier.
Unless you're my wife.
Listen: I'm not one to question her tastes - I mean, look at who she married, right? But Sandy said she actually kinda almost liked them. I'm flabbergasted. "I like the chocolate, and I think the caramel/pumpkin centers are just fine, but the salt...." she said as she shook her head. "No bueno." Ugh. I don't know what to say - she's literally the only person I've ever heard say anything remotely positive about these candies. And she'll give them a score just as high as her score for the pumpkin cookie butter - a three. I think we need to schedule her a doctor visit to get her taster checked. Anyways, if you can't tell, I didn;t like these. At all. For once, it wasn't just the pumpkin's fault. Absolute zero from me.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Salted Caramels: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons