Of course I was aware when I bought this stuff that it didn't look like ordinary broccoli. The head wasn't as big around, and the individual buds (is that the right word here?) were obviously larger. I just shrugged it off. Nina, though, wouldn't let it go, repeatedly insisting through dinner that no matter what the package said, this was not baby broccoli.
Now that I've looked into it a little bit, I'm inclined to agree with her. Here's a page from Green Giant on baby broccoli. And here's Wikipedia on broccolini. If the vegetable that we ate the other night isn't broccolini, it's such a perfect imitation that I don't know how to tell them apart. Ours even had the occasional yellow flower, just like the stuff pictured and described in that article.
That leaves the mystery of why Trader Joe's labels what is apparently broccolini as "baby broccoli." The Wikipedia page suggests a couple of possibilities: (1) The standardized UPC bar code for broccolini rings up as "baby broccoli." (2) "Broccolini" appears to have at least some trademark status. Is either of those the real explanation? I don't know.
Putting that aside, I couldn't tell from the taste that this was any different from any other broccoli. I could sure tell a difference in price, though: $3.29 for this 8-ounce package! Holy Crucifers, Batman!
Will I buy it again?
I can't see any reason to pay that much for either broccoli or broccolini, unless it's gold-plated.
Totally broccolini, which requires a very specific sort of preparation to be properly delicious. Whoever decided "baby broccoli" was an okay way to describe this contributed a complete fail to the food labeling business.
Were Bob to conduct a side-by-side taste test, he would find that they do, in fact, taste quite different from each other. But I'm guessing he's pretty much done with this vegetable.