Thursday, July 14, 2016

Trader Joe's X-Tra X-Tra Sharp New York Cheddar Cheese--Revisited

When Nina and I reviewed this the first time (see here), I opined that it wasn't much different than, say, Cracker Barrel. Nina went further: "Meh. This is not at all 'extra extra-sharp.' Cracker Barrel's extra sharp is much sharper, and—if memory serves—more flavorful too."

Two readers challenged this assertion (see the comments on the original post). Ever since then, I've thought that we should eventually get around to doing a side-by-side taste test of TJ's and Cracker Barrel. We finally did.

My conclusion: TJ's is indeed a little bit sharper, but it's not better. In fact, I was surprised to discover that I had a strong preference for the Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp. I found it just generally more flavorful, more enjoyable, less one-note.

Will I buy it again? 

Now my answer has to change from "Sure" to "Probably not."

Nina's View

Cracker Barrel is sharper, not TJ's. But only by a smidge. What it is, however, is markedly more flavorful, with a nicer mouthfeel, and more nuance. I've always liked Cracker Barrel's extra sharp cheddar and I'm pleased that my sense-memory was absolutely spot on. I was able to identify which was which in a blind taste test, no problem. 

[Bob notes: That's true. I gave her chunks of each, same size and shape, and she confidently identified the CB within seconds.] 


  1. As the French say: Chacun a son gout!

    I like both this and the various sharper Cracker Barrel sticks.

  2. And by the way:

    I suggest a second blind taste test. (TJ's and CB are QUITE different in texture, and anyone who has eaten both could confidently identify which is which, given chunks of each.)

    The second test: Melt a chunk of each. Let it cool. Then offer each to Nina. I'll be more impressed if she can confidently determine which is which, then.

    1. they should do a side by side test of TJs X-tra X-tra and Circus Peanuts, b/c that's what the texture resembles to very gross