[2-Pack Review] Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple Cupcakes

(50) Days of Pumpkin: Day 7


It’s a question that has plagued mankind seven or eight people for decades far longer than it should: pumpkin spice or caramel apple, which is the true fall flavor? Pumpkin spice is the sexy newcomer in the game, but caramel apples have been a fall treat for generations. If you make the call based solely on Pop-Tart flavors, which is usually how I handle all major life decisions, caramel apple is the clear winner. But…pumpkin spice. Ugh, I can’t decide.


Now, thanks to Hostess, I don’t have to! To settle the score once and for all, Hostess cupcakes are now available for a limited time in Pumpkin Spice, a returning flavor, and Caramel Apple, which is brand new this year. Although for my long-term health I should probably choose neither, I obviously picked up a box of each. It’s time to eat a half-dozen cupcakes to finally give the world the answers that absolutely no one is waiting for.


Hostess Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes are one of two pumpkin spice offerings from Hostess this year, the other being Pumpkin Spice Twinkies. Unlike the Twinkies, however, there’s a lot more pumpkin spice potential going on here. Just take a look at the description on the packaging: “frosted pumpkin spice cake with creamy filling.” That’s right–the cake itself is pumpkin spice, as opposed to merely the filling of its Twinkie counterpart.


One bite and these Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes are already better than the Twinkies. The pumpkin aspect is definitely present in the cake–surprisingly, the ingredients even list pumpkin puree. Cinnamon is the main spice here. It doesn’t appear anywhere in the ingredient list, but it’s obvious in the cake, and possibly the filling too. It’s strong but not quite to the point of being overpowering. In fact, the creaminess of the filling really helps keep the spice in check. The top frosting layer is super sweet, as with all Hostess cupcakes, but even that doesn’t spoil the great pumpkin spice vibe here. This is a solid cupcake.


And now, the challenger: Caramel Apple Cupcakes. There isn’t a Caramel Apple Twinkie to compare this to, but maybe Hostess will develop one if enough people tweet at them after reading this review. And hopefully Snack Cellar’s three readers qualify as “enough people.”


Caramel Apple Cupcakes are described as a “frosted caramel apple cake with creamy filling.” Reading the description, and even after taking a couple of bites, I wasn’t sure quite whether the “caramel apple” came mostly from the cake, the frosting, or perhaps both. The cake seems to carry more of a doughy apple flavor. The frosting, on the other hand, has a much sweeter apple taste, as well as a buttery, caramel-ish vibe, similar to the Sea Salt Cupcakes. The filling seemed similar to the caramel filling of those cupcakes, too. Taken together, I think it works just fine. The frosting is just a bit too much, in my opinion, and its sweetness veers the cupcake away from the subtlety that worked so well in the Pumpkin Spice version.

Two boxes of cupcakes later, I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have no idea which is the definitive fall flavor. Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes have a nice balance of pumpkin and cinnamon, without too much of an artificial snack cake twist. Caramel Apple Cupcakes don’t excel quite as much in that sense, but they still manage to capture caramel apple, even if caramel is the dominant flavor.

Sorry, mankind. I guess I don’t really have an answer for you. But the next time you need somebody to eat a bunch of cupcakes, I’m your guy.

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice and Caramel Apple Cupcakes
Price and Place of Purchase: $2.99 each at Target
Nutrition Facts (serving size-1 cake): Pumpkin Spice: 160 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.

Caramel Apple: 160 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 5 mg of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.

In a Nutshell: Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes are a nice snack cake twist on pumpkin spice. Caramel Apple Cupcakes lean toward caramel, but apple flavor is still apparent. Eating cupcakes to solve the great debates of our time.
Overall Score: Pumpkin Spice: 8 out of 10

Caramel Apple: 7.5 out of 10

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