Hefty Cinnamon Pumpkin Spice Trash Bags - Garbage Or Genius?

It seems there's nearly no aspect of daily life that can't be made more autumnal with the addition of pumpkin spice, not even kitchen garbage cans. In keeping up with the beloved fall flavor and scent craze that shows no sign of waning in this century, Hefty has reintroduced a scented version of its Ultra Strong garbage bags infused with the aroma of — you guessed it — pumpkin spice, with extra cinnamon added for good measure. Starbucks is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Pumpkin Spice Latte, so why wouldn't pumpkin-spice-scented garbage bags be the next logical step?

Maybe a better question is why has it taken so long for Hefty to capitalize on the pumpkin spice movement? After all, the original formula for the real pumpkin spice blend has been around for centuries. While Hefty originally released these cool weather sacks in 2022, they've made a return appearance in grocery stores and big-box retailers for a limited time. We thought it best to test them out and see if being addicted to all things pumpkin-scented should include the bags you put your garbage in. As it so happens, the results of our test turned out to be a mixed bag.

Why would pumpkin spice trash bags become a thing?

Maybe a better question is why wouldn't they. More than being just a powerful cultural phenomenon, pumpkin spice signals a homey return to a more hospitable time of year, conjuring thoughts of days when the air cools and sunlight changes. Having the smell of seasonal foods in the air helps establish this transition and invites comfort into the home, especially in the form of air fresheners and candles that waft their sweet scent through your space. And what space could use a freshen-up more than the garbage can? Hefty's high concept attempts to solve two problems at once: how to cover gross smells of thrown-away food while also adding specialty fragrance to the kitchen.

For die-hard PSL fans, picking up a package of Hefty CPS Ultra Strong garbage bags is the next logical step in the evolution. The demand for pumpkin spice everything threatens to overtake the pre-holiday shopping months anyway. Adding a freshen-up to the garbage world is a clever way to introduce pumpkin spice into a space where it hasn't gone yet. Customers eager to get on with their descent into the pumpkin madness can find the bags at select retailers.

Scented trash bags are nothing new for Hefty

Scented trash bags may sound like a novelty to the uninitiated, but Hefty has been adding fragrant elements to its garbage catchers for years, offering a line of nine distinctive aromas. These formulas include familiar cleanser scents like Clean Burst, Lavender and Vanilla, and even Fabuloso Lemon. This clever hack to disguise offensive odors emanating from the kitchen can is usually successful, with Citrus Twist receiving particularly kind comments from Amazon reviewers who give it 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Hefty is a definite innovator in the home plastics space, having introduced the first drawstring-closable garbage bag to help keep rubbish in its place. When it comes to helping keep odors hidden, the possibility of cleanser-scented bags is a no-brainer, since these formulations match the fragrances of products already used to make a kitchen smell and look clean. And joining in on the never-ending demand for pumpkin spice makes strategic sense for a company with a great stake in household usables. But if the thought of trying to make your mini-trash can smell pumpkin-riffic gives you pause, well ... it did the same for us. When it comes to giving consumers what they think they want, Hefty may be trying too hard.

The smell is more powder than pumpkin

By this point in human history, nobody needs a primer on how pumpkin spice smells. Reading the words summons the scent-memory of bright cinnamon, warm nutmeg, a touch of ginger, and the custardy earthen comfort of pumpkin holding it all together. But that's not what hits our noses when we smell these garbage bags. The first whiff comes through a sampling hole on the front of the box, but it isn't nearly strong enough to make an impression. Opening the box is more telling, even if there isn't a great release of fragrance at first. It is only when the bags are removed from the box that the full effect is delivered.

Disappointingly, the impression was less pumpkin spice and more diaper-changing station. There's an unwelcome powder scent that's far too sweet to connect the dots between "pumpkin" and "spice." There is, however, a layer of cinnamon that comes across as an endnote, but it feels out of place with the other near-miss elements. The more we handled the bag, the more the scent rose, but it never lived up to the well-established legacy of a true contender in the pumpkin spice space.

Is pumpkin spice trash in a cinnamon pumpkin spice trash bag too much?

Just like the theory that you can never drink too many pumpkin spice lattes, we wondered what would be the result of placing pumpkin spice-scented garbage into a cinnamon pumpkin spice-scented trash bag. The refuse of choice was, naturally, pumpkin spice coffee grounds. The aroma of the grounds wafted up through the scent of the garbage bag, giving the bin its own coffeehouse smell. If we hadn't been diligently sniffing around to determine the compound effect, we might not have noticed. Ultimately, the garbage odor overpowered the air freshener-style perfume of the bag itself. A consequence of the not-quite-natural formula used by Hefty? Possibly. Or maybe stronger scents can't be masked so easily.

Though pumpkin spice coffee aroma isn't entirely unpleasant even when relegated to a garbage can, the hope is that when resting in a scented Hefty sack while awaiting delivery to its final destination, the only smell detected should be the cinnamon pumpkin spice bag, not the coffee. This was only the case once we pulled the drawstrings to shut the bag, an event that only happens at the end of the garbage life cycle. Bummer.

The scent doesn't mask strong trash odors

If sweet-smelling trash fared poorly, how could reeking trash stand a chance? Not that garbage is supposed to smell appetizing; it is garbage after all, which is why it has a separate place in the kitchen. And because odor is a sure sign that food has gone bad, the last thing you want to do is add more smell on top of what's already happening. If you invest in bags designed to keep your kitchen smelling sweet no matter what goes in them, you should at least expect the stench to be contained.

Unfortunately, adding artificial cinnamon pumpkin spice to the mix doesn't do enough to cover the smell of food waste. Neither does the inclusion of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. We tried really strong-smelling garbage like blackened banana peels and wilted onions. Those odors came right through along with the less-than-pleasant perfume from the bag. This was garbage that wasn't quite ready for the Dumpster and would be hanging around for a few days more. Imagining what the weird blended smell might be like by then was enough to make us wonder if we should dump it early.

These bags don't hold up

As the saying almost goes, one pumpkin spice lover's trash is another's treasure. For some who have noses that love flowery smells that nearly capture the autumn essence of cinnamon pumpkin spice, these scented bags might be a find. But if you're more discerning with how your kitchen smells and you're thinking that pumpkin spice-scented trash bags are a step too far, you would be correct. While the warm aromatic magic of kitchen spices may create welcome vibes when burned as a candle or released as an air freshener, those formats keep their distance from anything with offensive smells that might merge in undesirable ways.

The idea of seasonal scented trash bags that really does hide unpleasant odors is a mad genius concept that might someday get its due. As for the sickly sweet scent of these Hefty garbage sacks, maybe this pumpkin needs a little more time to ripen. More spice and less sweetness could take things in a more pleasing direction. We thought about adding it to the list of pumpkin spice products for 2023 we're unsure about, but there's no doubt about it: We're tossing cinnamon pumpkin spice trash bags in the bin.