Friday, April 22, 2016

Trader Joe's CheeseSticks--Cheddar

Maybe the best part of this blog project is when I spot something that looks like it will probably be OK, but which I have no reason to think is great--and then it turns out to be a hidden gem.

Now, by "hidden," I don't mean that you have to accost a Trader Joe's employee and give him the secret handshake so that they fetch a box from the back room or something. I just mean that it's the kind of product that never shows up on all those endless "best TJ's products" that you see every week in my Saturday "Roundup" posts. It seems that everybody knows about cookie butter, soy chorizo, uncured bacon, etc. But it seems that nobody knows about CheeseSticks. I hope to help change that. Because they're wonderful. (There's some selfish motive here, too: The more people buy them, the less likely they are to be discontinued for poor sales performance, as TJ's is notorious for doing.)

The first surprising thing is how crunchy they are--not at all what you expect breadsticks to be. One might even go so far as to say that they're brittle, as they do sometimes shatter a little when bitten into.

But the most surprising thing is that you'll immediately notice a quality that is not disclosed, not even hinted at in the big-letter labeling on the package: heat. Do you see "hot" or "spicy" or "peppery" anywhere in the photo above? No, you do not. This was so unexpected that after the first bite, I went back to the cupboard to look at the box to see if I had missed something. I guess I had, but only if you go to the formal, federally mandated list of ingredients, where you will find "cayenne pepper."

I don't understand why TJ's doesn't trumpet this aspect of the product, because it is exactly that which transforms this from just OK to something really special. There's nothing not to like about bread and cheese, so I'd eat and enjoy these snacks even without the pepper. With it, however, they're so addictively delicious that I'll literally eat half a box in a sitting.

Welcome to the newest member of my Top Ten list (which, as regular readers well know, is not limited to a mere ten items)--maybe the first such list that this sadly overlooked product has ever been on.

Will I buy it again? 

I already have, and will many more times to come.


I've gone through three more boxes since writing the above, and still stand by every word. Love 'em.


  1. Might have to buy some just for myself and hide them from my wife, who is attempting a nightshade-free diet.

    That cayenne is the deal-breaker for her, alas.

  2. I continue not to understand why you insist on doing one review per day, when you've been sitting on this NEWS of a new Top Ten entry for FOUR BOXES' WORTH!

    It's not as though there's a blog-world SWEEPS month, when you can belatedly reveal your investigation of some consumer atrocity that might have killed a few people while you waited for Sweeps Month to come around.

    TJ's might have discontinued this item while you self-imposed this embargo!

    I advise: When you have a new Top Ten item, it should go to the head of the queue.


  3. I would agree to expedite new Top Ten reviews...
    But no worries, TJs has carried these for years now. The heat totally caught me off guard, they're great as a "fancy" snack when friends come over too. Although some boxes seem to have more broken parts than others. They're perfect with chili and soup too

  4. I love these, too, but I don't find them at all spicy. Of course, I can practically drink Cholula and I grew up eating cheese straws with far more cayenne than is in these, so to each their own heat-wise. Either way, they're good!