Fast Food Review: Baked Pumpkin Pie from McDonald’s

Adding an ambiguously defined, high caloric treat to my 10-piece Chicken McNuggets, large fries, and medium soda order (granted, it was a Diet Coke) may not have been the wisest decision I’ve ever made, but being the seasonally conscious eater I am – and spotting the ever-enticing 2 for $1 advertisement – I couldn’t help but snag two of the limited time only Pumpkin Pies in a fit of impulsive purchasing power at McDonald’s last week.

I’m really not sure what made me do it, to be honest. Despite possibly being the single cheapest thing on a fast food menu board, McDonald’s baked pies – including the ubiquitous apple pies – have never been a regular order for me. In fact, I can’t remember ever having a hot apple pie before, and really didn’t know what to expect from the pumpkin pie. Would it be cloying and sweet? Horribly artificial? Disgustingly stale? Heck, for half a buck I was more or less hoping for it just to be edible. If nothing else, the fact that my purchase had already yielded me a free Quarter Pounder with Cheese courtesy of Monopoly made rolling the dice on dessert worth the risk. That, and the fact that the Pumpkin Pie Pop-Tarts continue to elude my grasp.

They advertise them as ‘hot,’ for a reason, and altogether I have to report being pleased with the warm but not lip-burning heat exuded by the pie. A little larger than a hot pocket and having a whiff of cinnamon and other fall spices, the crust was moderately flaky, but not to a disintegrating-during-bite degree, buckling easy in the center to reveal an orange pumpkin filling that — in a way almost defiant to the expectations of fast food — looked remarkably like actual pumpkin pie filling.  In terms of viscosity it’s not terribly thick or custard-like, but has a texture akin to the Libby’s pumpkin pie filling you find in cans. Specks of nutmeg and clove dot the filling, which smells most intensely of clove but tastes strongly of cinnamon and brown sugar. The flavor itself isn’t overly sweet, with an admirable but distinctively canned pumpkin quality about it. For 50 cents, however, I can live with canned pumpkin. The filling is not the problem, but how it meshes with the crust is. I’m used to pumpkin pie crusts with more sweetness and hints of ginger, but this one is offset by a bland Bisquick-like fake pie crust flavor that drowns out the pumpkin sweetness and spice. What you’re left with is a not-quite-sweet-enough filling that would be more enjoyed drizzled over a McFlurry or the like, as opposed to stuck inside the flavorless capsule of artificial flavor and less than stellar mouthfeel.

It’s not your grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie, but few are in todays world. For 50 cents, I ate the pie and enjoyed it, displacing any thought of having wasted my money on a seasonal treat which otherwise does the pumpkin name proud. At 240 calories and 7 grams of saturated fat it’s not health food, but compared to the usual assortment of pumpkin shakes, donuts, and the like that you’re most likely to encounter at a fast food place this time of year, the McDonald’s pumpkin pie is a relatively guilt-free way to get your fall fix on the cheap. Although, I guess that’s considering you don’t get the 2-for-1 deal with the fries and nuggets.

Pros: 2-for1 deal makes it one of the cheapest fast food menu items this side of 1985. Apparent pumpkin spice flavor and real pumpkin puree. Sweet but not send-you-into-diabetic shock sweet.

Cons: Crust is bland tasting and overpowering in blandness. Doesn't leave you feeling like you've eaten a slice of hot pumpkin pie. Filling can be a bit hard to contain if eating in a car. 'Canned' taste needs to be offset by more sugar.

Taste: 6.50/10
Value: 9.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.00/10
Price: 89 cents each or 2 for $1

Overall GrubGrade: 7.25/10

More Info: McDonalds.com
Nutrition Facts:
McDonald's Pumpkin Pie
Calories: 240
Total Fat: 12 grams
Saturated Fat: 7 grams
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 150 mg
Total Carbs: 30 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugars: 11 grams
Protein: 3 grams