Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trader Joe's Marshmallows (and Trader Joe's Crisp Rice Cereal)

This is Day Eight of an extended New Products Week. 

Of all the new products Trader Joe's releases, maybe one in ten gets a whole lot of people posting on Twitter with excited photographs of their new find. This is one of them. First there's just the fact that Trader Joe's now has marshmallows, so it's one less thing that you have to go to a second store to find in order to complete your shopping. But the added bonus is that they're vegan--no gelatin--which is a rarity in the marshmallow world.

Here's TJ's description of the product: They're kind of pricey, at $2.99 a bag.

I would have no difficulty distinguishing these from the more common national brands, like Kraft--but it would be on the basis of texture more than taste. They're a little softer and lighter. But more noticeably, they have an odd granular texture. When Nina tried them, she thought this was just in the outside powdery coating, but after repeated trials, I convinced myself that it's through-and-through. Others have noticed this, too; see here, for example. It's not bad, but it is distinctive.

I did not notice any major difference in taste from the national brands--unlike this astonishingly (and unjustifiably) glowing review.

I don't have any easy way of toasting marshmallows, so I can't comment on how they perform under fire (or, more accurately, over fire). But I did make up a batch of rice crispy treats, using these marshmallows, Trader Joe's Crisp Rice Cereal, and even Trader Joe's Organic Butter, for what was very possibly the nation's first batch of 100% Trader Joe's marshmallow-rice cereal treats. (I hesitate to call them Rice Krispie treats, since I didn't use that brand.)

Incidentally, I found the cereal by itself to be indistinguishable from Kellogg's Rice Krispies, in both taste and texture. Though I didn't try them side by side, I've had enough of the latter in my life to feel confident saying that nobody will ever notice if you make this substitution.

The treats were completely normal--just like every other batch I've made. Nothing about them betrayed the fact that I used TJ's versions instead of name-brand products. They were a complete success. I had started the job with some small worry that the lack of gelatin would adversely affect how the marshmallows melted, or the chewiness of the resulting treats after cooling down, but neither was a problem in the slightest.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, for both items. My only use for marshmallows and for rice cereal is in the occasional batch of treats, but when I get a hankering to make some, I'll be happy to be able to get the ingredients at my favorite store, instead of at the giant supermarkets. The one catch to this plan is that, for some unfathomable reason, TJ's is making these marshmallows a summer-seasonal product, instead of year-round. So if my urge for crispy-rice treats hits in, say, January, I'll have to go back to Kraft.


  1. I'm desperately hoping these are so popular they become year round..! Really exciting since vegan marshmellows from other brands are easily twice the price for a smaller bag. I actually love them frozen as a snack- they get this chewy taffy like texture. Also worked great for smores made under the broiler!

  2. It makes sense that they are more expensive because they are vegan. Gelatin is really a by-product so it's incredibly cheap. Things like gelatin and collagen aren't easy to duplicate so that's probably why you notice a texture difference.

  3. Did you use 10 oz (1 bag of marshmallows), or 40 marshmallows (2 bags)? It appears the weight of tj's marshmallows are twice that of the suggested brand in the original recipe.