Sampling the flavors of autumn

Move over, pumpkin spice

In this special coffee break editing of Story Cauldron, I share my experience tasting Turkey Dinner candy corn—because come on, someone had to do it!

This looks like a sad joke Photoshop image, but trust me, they’re real. I bought a bag today after a friend on Facebook taunted me with their existence. Today, I scored a bag at my local Walgreens after going in for my flu shot.

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that I love candy corn more than the average person. I figured, if anyone would appreciate this hot mess that is a turkey dinner in a bag, it would be me.

According to the package, it’s a full turkey dinner with apple pie and coffee. Based on the packaging, I expect to find candy corn in the following flavors:

  • roasted turkey

  • green beans

  • cranberry sauce

  • stuffing

  • apple pie

  • coffee

When I poured some out, there were indeed six distinct colors, but it wasn’t initially clear which was which. (The image below was possible only after I tasted them all.)

Trying the brown and cream one first. I was thinking it might be turkey, but it tastes like… apples. Yay, those are pretty good! It’s a subtle flavor, but it works.

Next, the yellow and tan one, which I guess could be stuffing. Hmm, yes, that seems to be a correct guess. It has a sharp flavor that makes my nose scrunch up. It’s not awful, but it’s not great, either. It doesn’t taste so much like stuffing as it tastes like the simmering fight over politics that everyone hopes doesn’t happen.

Moving on to the green ones. Oh gawd. Now I’m really making a face. Seems like the flavor scientists must have been forced to eat everything on their plates as children, and they are now getting even with the world. These are foul, and if I had to describe it, they taste like mom just pureed a handful of lawn grass and turned it into candy.

Three more to go. Tasting the red ones with well-earned trepidation. Huzzah! They’re cranberry, but they taste like cherry to me. After those green beans, they make my mouth sing, but then again, after that last experience, anything would.

The orangey-tan and cream ones that I initially thought were apple pie are the turkey ones. Blech. Just… no. It’s just not right…. at all. What a cruel way to turn candy into nightmare fuel. Who in their right mind did this, even as a joke? If candy could be evil, these would qualify. I hate black licorice but I’d eat those happily over these. Here’s how these went down. An intern in the flavor science lab learned how to analyze flavors, and went to the breakroom to find someone’s abandoned lunch from last July, and used those aromatic compounds to create a new flavor. Honestly, they are inexcusably bad. I have to eat some of the apple pie ones to clear my palate of that flavor.

Finally, it’s time for coffee, right? So I try the brown and cream ones that by all rights should be chocolate but I know they’re not. They taste bitter, kind of like a burnt espresso. Not something I would seek out as a candy flavor, but it’s not abhorrent. They may actually be the ones that taste the most authentic of all of the options, but given how common coffee flavorings are, that’s not surprising.

My conclusion? The apple pie ones are nice. They taste like candy corn but with a slight tweak. The cranberry ones are delicious. But I would definitely skip the rest, no question.

If you have kids, these might be fun as a gimmick to keep them busy in the car. It might also be hilarious to put them out in a candy jar for unsuspecting guests (come on, I write about faeries—of course, I would suggest such a thing!). But for your own enjoyment and snackage? No way. Absolutely not. Please let my experience convince you that it’s just not worth it. Back away from the candy aisle. I beg of you.

But all is not awful in the land of autumn flavors. I love pumpkin and I love spices but I cannot stand the PSLs. They taste like chemicals. Pumpkin spice lattes are literally my least favorite flavor.

The good news is that Starbucks has debuted a much better flavor to tempt your tastebuds: Apple Crisp.

As I tasted the candy corn, I washed everything down with an apple crisp Frappuccino. I’ll admit I was skeptical—would I like apples in my coffee? But let me assure you that it’s delicious! It actually tastes like apples, with a touch of cinnamon and caramel. And don’t just take my word for it—Matt over at Matt Likes Coffee gave it a thumbs up as well.

I hope you enjoyed this coffee break moment. If you did, please consider sharing with a friend! And you know, my next Favor Faeries novel, The Boy Who Can Taste Color, is just around the corner. Consider a paid subscription to Story Cauldron (which at $5 a month costs more than a bag of sadness but less than a cup of Apple Crisp deliciousness!) and you’ll be ready to go when the first chapters drop in a couple of weeks!