As Bert so sagely pointed out, a waffle without “w” is simply awful. But what if that waffle has pumpkin in it as well? Does it become something even better? I aimed to find out by taking home Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles, exactly the sort of unpredictable concoction that I should have expected from the mad lab geniuses at the TJ labs. As long as you’re putting pumpkin in everything, you might as well add it to waffles right? Possibly. While there must surely be a case to be made for pumpkin waffles, Trader Joe’s pallid planks aren’t it, offering so little as to be no more preferable than a regular frozen waffle.
Look, let’s talk waffles. I think we can all agree that waffles are one of nature’s ultimate foods – capable of making any meal better. I hope whoever invented the waffle has a damn big monument on his grave, because they’re simply the best – the brainchild of a man who dared to ask, “What if pancakes had little nooks to hold the syrup in?”
There are two types of inventions in this world – the ho-hum inventions that someone was bound to get around to given enough time (the wheel, the book, the space shuttle, etc), then there are the truly amazing inventions, the inventions that, were it not for the fortunate birth of one incredible man or woman, would have never entered into this world no matter how long we waited (the tamagotchi, the keyboard necktie, platform shoes with little fish tanks in them, etc).
Waffles, of course, belong to this miraculous second category of inventions. Our efforts to heap praise upon the inventor, however, is wasted – this genius is lost to us in the long, convoluted depths of waffle history. While I would love nothing more than to leap into some of the truly interesting aspects of waffle history, I simply don’t have enough space here. Instead, I beg you to spend some time on Wikipedia’s waffle page, where you will learn about such things as:
- The medieval waffle guilds of France
- A Bruegel painting that “shows waffles being cooked, but also features a man wearing three waffles strapped to his head, playing dice for waffles with a black-masked carnival-goer.”
- Thomas Jefferson’s “Waffle frolics”
That’s not even all the highlights. Check it out guys, knowledge is its own reward.
All of which brings us back to Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles. The pressing question is, why bother making pumpkin waffles if you aren’t going to make them taste that much like pumpkin? This is exactly the misstep TJ’s makes here – the pumpkin waffles taste a bit like pumpkin, but not all that much. Despite promises of “sweet pumpkin and savory pumpkin pie spices”, what you really get is a waffle that tastes basically like an Eggo. Yes, there are undertones of pumpkin, but its rather subtle and not very satisfying. Hot out of the toaster you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise – these guys smell good, exactly as if they’re chock full of delicious pumpkin flavor, but on the plate they let you down.
Look, these aren’t bad waffles, they’re just bad pumpkin waffles. Do they have more of a pumpkin taste then non-pumpkin waffles? Yes, but it’s not enough to tickle the taste buds that crave that pumpkin taste. Eating these was sort of like listening to a good song that’s turned down too low – I kept wanting to reach out and turn up the flavor so I could really enjoy the experience. Instead, I was just left mildly annoyed.
I topped mine with pumpkin butter ultimately, which made them much more satisfying but left me wondering why you shouldn’t just buy a nicer, regular waffle and put pumpkin butter on that. Beyond the promise of pumpkin flavor, these waffles don’t have a lot to write home about – they’re just your basic, frozen, toaster waffle. It’s a great idea – there’s no reason not to mix pumpkin and waffle – Trader Joe’s just needs to keep on trying in this case.
Would I Recommend Them: No – even the most die hard pumpkin lovers will be let down.
Would I Buy Them Again: I’ll save my money for a better waffle.
Final Synopsis: Not enough pumpkin in these waffles to make them worth the purchase.