The real reason Trader Joe's has so many pumpkin products this year

Pumpkin spice pretzels, white chocolate pumpkin seed pretzels, pumpkin spice-filled wafer cookies, pumpkin brioche, pumpkin curry simmer sauce, pumpkin samosas, pumpkin empanadas, turkey pumpkin mole burritos — Trader Joe's, what in the squash is going on here? Sure, we get it, it's everything pumpkin season, has been since August. But why are you making all of the things pumpkin this year? Have you been taken over by pumpkin-loving aliens or something?

No, according to Trader Joe's latest podcast (via Winsight Grocery Business). This plethora of pumpkin products was prompted by the pandemic (and brought to you by the letter "p"). Trader Joe's, like so many other retailers, has been struggling during these perilous times, and — little known-fact revealed by Wonderopolis (and numerous elementary school science projects) — pumpkins actually do float! In a metaphorical, rather than a literal sense, though, TJ's is building itself a pumpkin boat to sail out of troubled waters.

Trader Joe's is specifically branding itself as a pumpkin purveyor

During the podcast, Trader Joe's spokesman Matt Sloan acknowledged that "just about everyone in every type of business has had to make adjustments during this pandemic," but said "we're proud that Trader Joe's has maintained a commitment to developing new products, to giving you that sense of discovery on every visit." As to just what it is people are discovering, marketing director Tara Miller chimed in to say that "People associate Trader Joe's with pumpkin stuff in the fall."

Harris Diamand, the VP of customer experience at technology platform and services provider 1WorldSync, tells Winsight this is probably a good strategy for Trader Joe's. They've been unable to compete when it comes to offering in-home convenience shopping as they have never really gotten into offering online ordering, delivery, or even curbside pickup. Instead, they rely on foot traffic, so they need something special to make sure those feet keep coming in their doors. Diamand says that since TJ's has a smaller selection than major grocers, with most of their items being private-label products, it's "extremely noticeable when new or seasonal products hit the shelves, causing a new wave of excitement for shoppers that are familiar with its offerings."

Why so many different types of pumpkin products?

As to why Trader Joe's has diversified into so many different pumpkin offerings this year, Diamand says offering new categories of pumpkin was calculated to appeal to "shoppers [who] are keen to try new flavors of products they regularly buy" in this year that's been "more out of the ordinary for shopping habits." He says that while "coffee is still the leader for pumpkin spice sales, Trader Joe's is showing that many categories can see success, such as baking mixes, ice cream, breakfast cereal, bagels and more," (via Winsight).

Not a pumpkin fan? No worries. Gingerbread and peppermint season are right around the corner (like, approximately 5 minutes away), and TJ's is sure to jump all over those, as well. Gingerbread hummus, perhaps? Or maybe a peppermint-pineapple salsa? Who knows what the wily old Trader will have in store for us, but it's sure to bring us into the store to find out.