Wendy's Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cream Cold Brew Review: Pass On This Pumpkin Spice Beverage

Wendy's pumpkin spice iced coffee
Wendy's pumpkin spice iced coffee - Steven Luna/Mashed

After dragging its heels to catch the parade, Dave Thomas' burger house has finally jumped on the pumpkin spice coffee bandwagon with both feet with the launch of its Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cold Brew. It's a chilly treat with autumn vibes, a partner to the new Pumpkin Spice Frosty, and combines the burger house's soft-serve dessert with Wendy's specialty coffee for a quick catch-up to the coffee house pack. Though the Frosty may not be the most popular item at Wendy's, it's one of the best known, and in the world of fast food, familiarity breeds dollar signs. Since everybody knows about pumpkin spice coffee, merging the two into a new specialty item is a no-brainer.

Why did the home of the square burger wait so long to roll with the squash-centric seasonal switchover? The reasons may be a well-guarded secret Wendy's doesn't want you to know. But the company is in its pumpkin spice era now, and we had to know if the Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cold Brew was worth the wait. When it comes to cool fall flavor, we have zero chill.

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There's A Frosty Mix Of Ingredients In The Cup

hand holding pumpkin spice coffee
hand holding pumpkin spice coffee - Steven Luna/Mashed

For anyone wondering what a non-pumpkin spice Frosty Cream Cold Brew is, it's a creamy coffee concoction that's not dissimilar to coffee with creamer, only the creamer is melted Frosty, and the coffee is super smooth cold brew. Picture pouring java and vanilla soft serve into the same cup. Looks pretty delicious in your mind's eye, eh? That's the Frosty Cream Cold Brew, and it gets even better -- cold brew has a higher caffeine content than heat-brewed coffee, providing a bigger buzz in addition to the sugar blitz from the flavorful add-ins. So, if you're looking for a high-voltage chill, this mix is the generator to tap into.

Now, replace the vanilla swirl with a swoosh of the cinnamon-and-nutmeg essence found in a Pumpkin Spice Frosty, and you have the basis for a flavor fest that might be old hat to the rest of the restaurant realm, but it's something splashy and new for holiday-resistant Wendy's. Considering that there's no de-iced version of the coffee, the cup is a chill-and-a-half that only iced bean brew drinkers will appreciate.

The Price Is Pretty Sweet

pumpkin spice coffee with gourd
pumpkin spice coffee with gourd - Steven Luna/Mashed

At $1.99 for a small Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cream Cold Brew, an order of Wendy's flavorful fall coffee blend is pretty darn attractive. It's just slightly higher than the $1.79 you might pay for an iced pumpkin spice latte at McDonald's, and it's an incredible bargain compared to the $5.00 and up you're likely to be charged for the original PSL drinks at Starbucks. Spring for a medium, and you're only out $2.79. For a large, your bill is $3.19, still well under the reigning pumpkin spice monarch's price point. That's great news for both Wendy's diners and pumpkin spice fans looking for a less-expensive version of their beloved beverage.

There's a question of whether price predicts quality that crops up in every competitive arena that also presents itself in the pumpkin sphere. Are you paying less for Wendy's coffee twist because it's made with lesser ingredients that compromise flavor? Or is the chain honestly doing its best to enter an already overcrowded market without draining loyal customers? While flavor is always a matter of personal preference, the possibility of being served a lesser product is a specter that hangs over the cash register -- one customers have to face for themselves.

The Flavor Is A Seasonal Treat Only

autumn leaves with coffee cup
autumn leaves with coffee cup - Steven Luna/Mashed

The fickle winds of fall blow for only so long, and so does the Pumpkin Spice Cream Cold Brew. Nothing surprising here, as anything this gleefully autumnal shouldn't outlast the life span of its native season. You might be out of your gourd by now, having decades of pumpkin spice tasting under your scarf. The lasting popularity of the Orange Overlord of Fall Flavors means that Wendy's diners who've remained loyal to their favorite spot can now chatter about "pumpkin spice this" and "pumpkin spice that" like everyone else on the Internet.

But just like all the other pumpkin spice products, the Pumpkin Spice Cream Cold Brew won't be sticking around too far into the winter. You should catch this one before it turns back into a ... a pumpkin? That seems like the wrong metaphor. Let's just say you should catch it while it's around instead.

This Swig Is An Expansion Of Wendy's Cold Brew Menu

cup of Wendy's coffee
cup of Wendy's coffee - Steven Luna/Mashed

Frosty Cold Brew already leads the Wendy's brewed beverage brigade. The coffee crowd can enjoy a trio of familiar café flavors: chocolate, vanilla, and caramel. These icy mixes are available all year round as a rich replacement for the awkwardly named Frosty-ccino that preceded them. The bold yet smooth flavor of cold brew is a nice move away from iced coffees that simply add ice cubes to heat-brewed java. The promise of having a melted soft-serve-like substance in the cup is a clever upgrade from standard coffee creamer. For a restaurant that usually does its best to stay in its own lane, these coffee drinks seem like a smart move.

As for providing a broader array of seasonal treats, Wendy's is well behind the curve. To wait this long to release its take on a flavor so ubiquitous by now exposes Wendy's to heavy-duty scrutiny. Whether or not the new item can pull anyone's attention away from the usual selections as well as established favorites may be a matter of visibility.

There's No Real Nutritional Value Here

Wendy's pumpkin spice cold brew
Wendy's pumpkin spice cold brew - Steven Luna/Mashed

Let's be honest: This is a cup filled with caffeinated sugar and cream, plus flavoring that may or may not be real, even if the label describes it as "natural." Aside from a sprinkling of micronutrients, coffee itself has no obvious nutritional value. So, it's really down to the level of damage you might do to your daily eating habits by indulging in a Pumpkin Spice Frosty Cream Cold Brew, and that depends on the size you order.

According to Wendy's, a small sipper has all of 150 calories and 3 grams of fat -- not too shabby for a drink that includes milk. The 24 grams of sugar seems a bit excessive, but again, this isn't a meal replacement shake; it's a luxury drink. A medium comes in at 200 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, and 31 grams of sugar -- not the huge jump you'd expect, which is an encouraging development. For a large, you'll be drinking 280 calories and 5 grams of fat, but your sugar content jumps to 44 grams, which is over the American Heart Association's recommended 36 grams per day. The lesson here is that small is beautiful and the least unhealthy.

It's Like Drinking A Cup Of Perfume

pumpkin with Wendy's coffee
pumpkin with Wendy's coffee - Steven Luna/Mashed

This is a sweet swig, for sure, with icy creaminess to spare. The first sip clued us in on the pumpkin ambition we were dealing with -- a cloying, over-sugared taste that hit the taste buds like a spritz of knock-off cologne from a mid-mall kiosk. Faint cinnamon fought flowery pumpkin for dominance, and nobody won. On sip two, the sweetness declared itself a permanent resident in the straw, while the perfumy pumpkin made itself even more comfortable; there was practically no coffee to be tasted whatsoever. By the third sip, it was clear that even a small cup of this strange brew was too much to finish.

It's nice to have new options with this staple of the fall flavor season. But if the pumpkin spice ick of this coffee cooler is an indication of how future Wendy's seasonal flavors will happen, maybe the company should rethink their decision. While the price is attractive and the idea is appetizing, if not original, pumpkin spice aficionados would be wise to stick with versions they already know and love. There's no sense falling for a perfumed imposter when authentic pumpkin spice options fill the air.

Read the original article on Mashed.