New Study Says Pumpkin Spice Foods Cost Up to 161% More Than the Regular Version

It’s expensive to love pumpkin spice!


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If you’ve ever purchased a Pumpkin Spice Latte, one of Trader Joe’s beloved pumpkin spice foods, or any pumpkin spice-flavored item from your local grocery store, chances are you’re paying more for that seasonal treat than you should be. In fact, a so-called “pumpkin spice tax,” in which retailers mark up the price for a pumpkin spice-flavored item based on demand, is often applied to many of these autumnal favorites. This “tax” can be pretty costly over time, especially if you are a pumpkin spice fanatic.

According to a new study from the personal finance site MagnifyMoney, inflation and robust demand for pumpkin spice products has meant that these items cost 14.1 percent more money when compared to the traditional varieties of the same products. To calculate this tax, which is up more than 5 percent from October 2020, MagnifyMoney analyzed 80 grocery and coffee products from six retailers, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. The items include snacks, drinks, and even dog treats.

Curious to see this pumpkin spice tax in action? The study points out that a 16-ounce Starbucks Caffe Latte costs $5.45, while the same sized Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks will set you back $6.45—a full dollar more. That increase, though relatively small, represents a pumpkin spice tax of 18.3 percent.

For retailers, this tax can be a way to offset other rising costs related to inflation and supply chain issues. Retailers might also charge more for pumpkin spice items to capitalize on consumer fears of missing out on these seasonal items that are only around for a brief period of time, and might sell out due to their popularity.  

So, aside from the PSL, what are the seasonal foods that have the highest pumpkin spice tax? Keep reading to find out!

Trader Joe’s pretzels

This popular snack food is the worst offender of the bunch. According to the study, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spiced Teeny Tiny Pretzels cost a whopping 161.1 percent more than the chain’s Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks. More specifically, the pumpkin spiced pretzels cost 50 cents an ounce, while the regular pretzels cost just 19 cents an ounce.

Whole Foods pancake and waffle mix

The chain’s 365 by Whole Foods Market Spiced Pumpkin Pancake & Waffle Mix costs 129.8 percent more than its similar non-seasonal offering—365 by Whole Foods Market Organic Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix.

Trader Joe’s hummus

Trader Joe’s shoppers love the brand’s pumpkin hummus, which is probably why it’s 49.9 percent more expensive than the TJ’s Mediterranean Style Hummus.

Trader Joe’s soup

The next time you have a craving for store-bought soup, you might want to consider buying Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup instead of the chain’s Pumpkin Bisque. That’s because the seasonal bisque costs 46.3 percent more than the other veggie-filled soup.

Trader Joe’s croissants  

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake Croissants cost 29.7 percent more than a package of 8 Mini Croissants.

Despite four TJ’s appearances on this list, Whole Foods actually has the highest pumpkin spice tax—the company’s pumpkin spice-flavored items cost 27.8 percent more than the regular counterparts, while Trader Joe’s pumpkin spice offerings are 26.8 percent more expensive than its similar pumpkin spice-less products.

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