We Try All of the Pumpkin Treats at Dairy Queen

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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

One sure sign it's fall is the re-emergence of pumpkin-flavored everything. And while coffee chains are content to squirt some synthesized pumpkin syrup into your latte, Dairy Queen uses real Libby's pumpkin pie filling in their trio of seasonal treats, including blizzards, shakes, and "MooLattés". It makes all the difference. The new pumpkin items are surprisingly tasty.

All three treats share several common ingredients, including vanilla soft serve, pumpkin pie filling, whipped topping, and nutmeg, so choosing between them comes down to your texture preference (thick shake, even thicker coffee-flavored milkshake, or Blizzard), and whether or not you want crunchy bits of crust mixed in. For us, the more obvious the crusty bits were, the better the treat tasted.

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The Blizzard had several dime-sized pieces of crunchy pie crust mixed in with the soft serve and pumpkin pie filling, which gave it a tasty texture and a boost of flavor. It melted at record speed, turning into a churned and melty cup of soft serve, but was still thick enough to eat with a spoon and surprisingly delicious. If you love your pumpkin pie cut thin, and topped with a gigantic mound of whipped cream, you'll like this Blizzard. But if you love a richly spiced pie with minimal whip, you might not be a fan. The pumpkin pie Blizzard is more about the ice cream than it is about the pumpkin, and even less about the spice.

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The pumpkin shake tastes like an (even more) melted Blizzard, minus the crust pieces. It's also tooth-achingly sweet. The first sip is invigorating, but take a few more in quick succession and you may feel like you're levitating. The good news is that even at warm temperatures, the drink never fully melts or separates, so you can keep what you don't finish in your fridge and sip on it later. The bad news? It's so sweet that the small size I ordered for the review is still sitting in my fridge, with more than three-quarters remaining.

The pumpkin MooLatté is the tastier drink because of two important additions: those crunchy crust pieces, which get churned up under the blender, and a thick coffee concentrate, which rounds out the sweet dairy flavors. Still, this drink is exceptionally sugary. It starts with DQ's "Arctic Rush base", which is essentially simple syrup, and every additional ingredient (with the exception of some crushed ice) brings even more sugar. I couldn't find nutritional information for the pumpkin flavor, but without the pumpkin filling, there are 64 grams of sugar in the small size (13 ounces), whereas a 12 ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. It's more like a drinkable Blizzard with a buzz than an acceptable morning beverage. Drink this first thing in the morning and you can count on a strong urge to do cartwheels, followed by a gnarly crash.

Of the three options, the Blizzard may be the best way to go, if only because it comes in a mini-size, which allows you to shave back your sugar intake to a more modest 43 grams per serving and avoid a massive sugar overload.

Have you tried DQ's new pumpkin treats? Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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