Friday, September 30, 2016

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Shaped Sugar Cookie

This is Day Six of Cookie Week. 

This is a very pretty cookie with about as little flavor as I've ever encountered in a sugar cookie. Severely disappointing. I ate half and threw the rest away. Nina saw my reaction and didn't even want a taste.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trader Joe's Half Moon Cookies

This is Day Five of Cookie Week. 

Good basic sugar cookies at the base. The icing was fine, but way too much of it. I ate 'em all up anyway.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Trader Joe's Blueberry Poppy Seed Cookies

This is Day Four of Cookie Week. 

The shortbread is fine, but nothing special. The poppy seeds add nothing that I can detect. The winner here is the dried blueberries--they're whole, chewy, and flavorful, which is totally unexpected in this kind of usage. There's a bit of a stick-in-the-teeth problem, but I'm willing to overlook that.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. They make for fine late-night munching.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

This is Day Three of Cookie Week. 

I love these. Rich chocolate outside; soft, sweet, full-flavored coconut inside. How could I not love them?

Nitpicking: The chocolate is a little too soft and melts too easily while you're holding it. But so what?

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I want more.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is Day Two of Cookie Week. 

I confess, I wasn't paying enough attention. I felt like taking home some cookies. I scanned along the cookie shelf and noticed "chocolate chocolate chip cookies," and that sealed the deal. I stopped reading. I didn't notice the "gluten free" part until I got home. However, in retrospect, I probably would have bought them anyway, just to give them a try.

They're OK, but not anything like the rich deliciousness that I had hoped for. Like most things based on rice flour, they have an odd grainy texture. These are also weirdly shaped, more like lumps than flat cookies. The chocolate in the dough seems overdone, as if to compensate for a lack of flavor in any other ingredients.

I managed to finish off the bag--but slowly, because I never wanted more than two cookies in a sitting. Given my history of binge-eating chocolate cookies, this is as severe an indictment as I can pen.

Will I buy it again? 


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's time for another theme week. This time, a whole week of reviews of--cookies! 

I rather liked the Gluten Free Crispy Crunchy Ginger Chunk Cookies when they came out, so I decided to try their older shelf-mate, the chocolate chip version.

They are very similar, except for the ginger vs. chocolate thing. The basic cookie dough seems the same, as close as I can tell. Which means that they're decent, but not great. They're basically just a whole lot of butter and sugar held together by as little rice flour as the bakers can manage to make work. This makes them unusually rich--but not necessarily in a good way.

I would rank them a notch below their ginger brethren. But f I had to avoid gluten, I'd be happy to have them.

Will I buy it again? 

No. There are much better--and cheaper--chocolate chip cookies available for those of us who can have gluten.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Trader Joe's Cherry Cider

This is one of the worst offenders we have yet discovered, in terms of being what Nina so aptly calls "melted lollipops" juices. Or, better: "juices." Sickeningly sweet, only vaguely cherry-ish. Drinking it is worse than being thirsty.

Will I buy it again? 

Emphatically, no. And I hope you don't, either. Stop rewarding Trader Joe's for making such dreck, when they're perfectly capable of producing genuinely wonderful juice blends, like this one.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Trader Joe's Green Seedless Grapes

I usually don't review produce items here, for fairly obvious reasons. I'm making an exception here because I think other people might be curious about this item on the basis of how it looks. Specifically, though this may not be obvious from the photo above, these grapes are HUGE--the biggest I've ever seen.

My general life experience is that fruits that are unusually large are sadly lacking in flavor. However, there have been some exceptions. Some fruits from Harry & David, for instance, are both gargantuan and delicious. So I wondered if perhaps these green grapes might be among the exceptions.

They are not. At least this bunch was seriously lacking in taste. There's a bit of fun popping such a large grape into one's mouth, but any pleasure ends there.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Fool me once, etc.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trader Joe's Raspberries (frozen)

As much as I like berry medleys, sometimes I just want the best part of those medleys, which is the raspberries. Fortunately, Trader Joe's accommodates my desire with this product--plain, unadorned, frozen raspberries. No sugar, no sauce. The official list of ingredients on the back of the package says, "Raspberries." Full stop. This is as it should be. You just pour some out into a bowl, let them thaw for 45 to 60 minutes, then nom on them.

Of course, fresh would be better. But fresh raspberries are the very definition of "perishable." It's rare that I have them when I get hit with the jones for berries. So having a package like this in reserve in the freezer meets the need nicely.

It's possible that I've seen a similar product in other stores, but if so, I don't remember it. These are consistently good enough--and cheap enough--that I feel no need to search out competitors for comparison.

Will I buy it again? 

Of course.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Trader Joe's Cranberry Raspberry

This is better than most of TJ's big-jug juice blends. It retains enough of the tartness of the cranberry, even though the raspberry dominates, in a bit of a surprise move. The blend is stoked with those old non-favorite sweeteners, apple and white grape juice, but the result isn't as over-the-top sweet as TJ's usually puts out. In fact, it's quite pleasant--as good as or better than any other cranberry-raspberry juice blend I've had.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Mixed Fruit

This is excellent. Pleasant textures. Vivid and compatible flavors--I liked all of the four about equally, so I didn't care which I picked up next and felt no urge to select one over another. Nicely sized pieces with relatively few broken, tiny bits. There is apparently a small amount of sugar added, and I've previously said that I don't want sugar in my dried fruit, but it wasn't prominent enough to bother me here.

One oddity: The package warns not to eat the included desiccant packet. I didn't notice that warning until Nina and I had noshed our way through the whole bag. So either I had picked the odd package with no desiccant, or one of us ate it without noticing. The latter seems unlikely. The only reason I mention it is that this bag had sat in my cupboard so long without being consumed that we were a full eight months past its expiration date when we finally tore into it. (It had become buried under some other stuff and forgotten.) And yet the contents remained in perfect texture, even without the desiccant it was supposed to have. It kind of makes me wonder why they bother with including it.

I don't know why they make the package with a resealable opening, cuz it's never going to be closed again after it's opened. They even specifically assert that the number of servings included is "1." So it's, like, illegal not to eat the whole bag at once.

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. This is a superior late-night snack.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Trader Joe's Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce

I liked this a lot. I've had other commercial pasta sauces that are allegedly infused with cheese, but this is the first time the cheese flavor is prominent enough for me to notice it without using a lot of imagination. Absolutely no need to add grated cheese to your pasta if you're using this.

It's one of my three favorite TJ's spaghetti sauces, along with the Organic Marinara and the Autumnal Harvest Creamy.

Will I buy it again? 


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Trader Joe's Pumpernickel Pretzel Sticks

Had you asked me, before I bit into one of these odd pretzels, whether I had ever tasted pumpernickel before, I would have said no. But with the first bite, I was flooded with memory recognition of that flavor--so strong that I'm sure I have had pumpernickel at some point in my life, and did not like it.

I ate about five of these, hoping that my initial dislike would fade and I would warm up to them. It has happened with other things, though admittedly not often.

It did not work. I could not like them--primarily because I don't like pumpernickel, as I am now forcefully reminded.

Nina, on the other hand does like pumpernickel. So, did she like them? Stay tuned.

Will I buy it again? 

Nope. It went back to the store for a refund.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

Kudos for flower donations

6 runner-friendly foods from Trader Joe's

New Trader Joe's products for September

New Trader Joe's ads using cute animation

Sorry, no tweets worth memorializing this week.

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Organic 100% Melon Juice

This is Day Seven of New Products Week. 

I've never had melon juice before, didn't even know it was a thing. But I've eaten plenty of melons, so I feel like I have a good idea of what melon juice should taste like--and it's exactly this stuff. Delicious. Pure.

As I've said many times, when Trader Joe's does a juice with a single ingredient, it's almost always perfect. This is another example of that.

Will I buy it again? 


Friday, September 16, 2016

Velamints Blood Orange Sugar Free Mints

This is Day Six of New Products Week. 

The word "mints" here is apparently used to designate small, hard candies, not necessarily candies with mint in them. At least I could detect none. The flavor seems to be all blood orange. It's really good--distinct and readily identifiable.

I'm not sure these will do much for bad breath, but just for something to suck on to get a little simulacrum of blood orange (not that that's something you ever realized you needed), these are perfect.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

I really like these. They are delicious. I looked for them last time at TJ's and couldn't find them and was disappointed.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Trader Joe's Sweet & Spicy Mango Vinaigrette

I bought this back in June, at the height of the all-mango-all-the-time craze TJ's had going on. Though I was using it regularly, I kept putting off writing about it because I couldn't figure out what to say. Now I've finished the bottle, and I'm still not sure.

I guess the best way to sum up my opinion is this: It's not sweet enough to be worthy of having "sweet" in its name, it's not spicy enough to have "spicy" in its name, and it's not mango enough to have "mango" in its name. There's a generic fruitiness, but I don't think I could pin it down as mango if I didn't have the label blaring at me. It's just underwhelming in every way.

Will I buy it again? 

No. The fact that I consumed the entire bottle should tell you that I didn't hate it, but it's not even in the same universe as what is still my all-time favorite, TJ's Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Trader Joe's Green Tahini Dip & Sauce

Nina picked this up; I had not noticed it.

I thought it was OK, but not nearly as good as hummus, and I didn't even like it as much as Trader Joe's regular tahini sauce (tried but still awaiting review). The dill is by far the most prominent component here, so the sensation is sort of like eating pickle-flavored hummus. A little odd, not terrible, but doesn't trigger any craving for more.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

I like this stuff a lot, and have already bought a second tub of it.

It starts out with a big hit of dill, but as you eat it the dill fades and all sorts of other nice green things come forward. It's great on TJ's garlic naan, or as a condiment with eggs. My guess is, it would actually make a decent pesto sauce on pasta (perhaps with a little doctoring).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Trader Joe's Candy Coated Chocolate Drops

This is Day Three of New Products Week. 

It's impossible to look at these and not think, "Oh, they're Trader Joe's M&Ms." Because that's what they are.

I don't think I would have any difficulty telling these from the more famous product of which they're a copy. The main giveaway is that the colored candy shell is considerably thinner here.

I think the best part of eating M&Ms is biting into that shell. It cracks open in a most satisfying manner, especially if you keep the bag in the refrigerator so the candy is cold, as I usually do. The thinner coating on the TJ's product means they can't match M&Ms in that department.

They're an entirely satisfactory substitute other than that. So if that one characteristic doesn't matter to you, these will do just fine.

Will I buy it again? 

Nope. I want that thicker shell to give me the pleasure of a hearty crack when I break it open. I realize that makes me incredibly petty and childish, but I don't care.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Lemony Greens Blend

This is Day Two of New Products Week. 

This is an excellent salad blend. But lemony? I couldn't taste it. But I realized that if anything was going to be lemony, it must be the dock, because that was the only component I had never had before. So I figured out which leaves were the dock and nibbled on a couple of them separately. And wow--they really are lemony! Kind of amazing, actually. The effect is diluted by the presence of all the other greens (and salad dressing), but it's definitely real.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I already have. It has become one of my regular purchases. My stock salad is a bag of lettuce or lettuce blend (Champs Elysees, butter lettuce/radicchio, or plain butter lettuce), plus a bag of one of the non-lettuce blends (herb salad mix, spicy spinach blend, Power to the Greens, or, now, this lemony greens blend). I also usually pour in half a bag of shredded carrots. That makes enough that I can have a large bowl of the resulting mix daily for a week (including my dinner with Nina).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Trader Joe's Bollywood Popcorn

I've been neglecting to write about a bunch of new items that Trader Joe's has released lately, so it's time for another New Products Week. 

I want to know who at Trader Joe's sits around and thinks up these things. Because they're certifiably insane--but also maybe a genius.

This is a crazy mashup, but it works. At least it works for a little while. I liked the flavoring, and it absolutely did call to mind the tikka masala flavor I've come to expect from the various TJ's frozen tikka masala products.

However, it was a little heavy-handed on the spiciness. After two handfuls, I had had enough. There's a weird sort of cumulative effect, so the burn seems to keep building, and I had to call it quits.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But if they reformulated it with maybe two-thirds the amount of seasoning, it could become a favorite.

For a different view, see the review from the "What's Good at Trader Joe's" blog, where this item received a rare perfect 10/10 score.

Nina's View

NOM. Nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom nom.

Yes, I basically ate the whole bag. And then I came back the next time and finished off the crumbs.


I do not concur on Bob's description of cumulative spiciness. I find the heat level just right.

I wish I had some right now.

Saturday, September 10, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

Why does everyone turn into a colossal a-hole the second they walk into Trader Joe's?

Trader Joe's workers are happier than Whole Foods workers

Every beer at Trader Joe's, ranked

A "what is wrong with people?" moment at Trader Joe's 

CELEBRATE! After a long absence, "Trader Joe" is back with a new YouTube video:

Best tweets of the week:






And finally, here's this week's cute cat in on a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Organic Cracked Wheat Bread

I like this bread very much. I like its flavor. I like the way it toasts and the way it stands up to whatever sandwich ingredients you ask it to hold. I like its medium density--substantial without feeling ponderous.

It has one fatal flaw, however, that will keep it from being one of my top TJ's bread choices: The loaf is short, top to bottom. Instead of a standard-sized sandwich, you get about half a sandwich--maybe two-thirds for the slices that are nearer the middle of the loaf. If that doesn't bother you, you should definitely give this a try. For me, sadly, that's an important characteristic, and it's going to limit how often I choose to buy this.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. When I anticipate a stretch of time in which I'll do more making of breakfast toast than lunch sandwiches, this is a truly excellent choice. Were it not for that handicap of its size, it might become my first choice. As it is, I'll have to be selective about my use of it.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Hot Chipotle Salsa

The little thermometer graphic that Trader Joe's provides on the label of almost all of its salsas is higher on this than on any I've seen so far--almost at the top of the scale. And that's its downfall for me. I liked the flavor, but the heat was too much for me to enjoy.

Nina tried mixing it 1:1 with my favorite salsa, TJ's Fire-Roasted Tomato. That did help quiet it down, but I didn't think the blend was better than the Fire-Roasted all by itself. This stands in contrast to the results of the same experiment with the Double-Roasted salsa, where we both agreed that the blend was better than either component alone.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Goat Cheese & Sundried Tomato Ravioli

Good stuff--but why wouldn't it be? How can you go wrong when you combine pasta, cheese, and tomatoes?

That's it. I'm out of things to say about this, because the name of the product accurately tells you what to expect.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I think it's my favorite of all the TJ's ravioli products I've tried.

Nina's View

Delicious. Alas, it falls into the category of Never Buy for me because: dead baby boy goats and sad goat-mommies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

Nina ate one of these before I did, and predicted that I would not like them. She was right--at least at first. The combination of a bit of bitterness in the dark chocolate, the salt, and the butterscotch I found initially off-putting.

But I returned to them the next night, and found that I was warming up to them. In fact, I ate about 10 of them. They're never going to be a favorite, but I expanded the sphere of what I can like in a candy a teensy little bit with these unusual morsels.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

Yeah, these are good. They are super-sweet, super-rich, and salty. They call out for binge-eating, but the richness puts a stop to that after a handful. I will never buy them because: thighs.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Trader Joe's Fully Baked Chicken Pot Pie

This chicken pot pie has some superficial resemblance to the lovely turkey pot pie, but they are completely different products. It is also completely different from TJ's frozen chicken pot pie. It is better than the latter, not nearly as good as the former.

When faced with the choice between microwave and oven heating, I usually go for the oven. I wish I had done so here. But I was in a bit of a hurry and went for zapping. The result was a top crust so tough that I couldn't cut through it with a fork. I had to resort to cutting it with a sharp knife and ripping it with a fork and a bare hand. I suspect that oven heating would have avoided that problem.

The biggest problem, though, was that this is just too bland and uninteresting.

The package claims three servings. Don't believe it; count on two.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 5, 2016

Trader Joe's 100% Pure Florida Orange Juice Not From Concentrate With Calcium And Vitamin D

I kind of randomly picked this carton from the bewildering array of cartons of orange juice at Trader Joe's. I wasn't even sure whether it was one I had had before, until I got home and checked the blog archives.

This is now the sixth variety of TJ's orange juice I've had (seventh if you include the frozen concentrate). And it's the worst. It's utterly lifeless, plus having a weird additional chemical flavor. The overall impression is that it was created by a mad scientist's earnest attempt to synthesize orange juice after all the world's orange trees have succumbed to some sort of awful blight.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Get this one instead.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Trader Joe's Woven Wheats Wafers

We've done two reports on the reduced-fat version of this product, here and here. When I wrote those posts, I had never seen a regular (i.e., non-reduced-fat) version, and wasn't even sure it existed. A commenter noted that the regular version was all they carried in his Trader Joe's; he couldn't get the reduced-fat ones. Inspired by that knowledge, I kept looking for the regular kind on my trips to the store, and one day, out of nowhere, there they were!

I had on hand a box of regular Triscuits, which the TJ's crackers are obviously meant to replicate, so it was easy to do a direct comparison.

The result was clear, though not as stark as the difference in the reduced-fat versions was. I liked Triscuits better. They had better overall wheat flavor and were a little saltier. But I only noticed these differences when tasting them alone, with nothing on them. When a slice of tasty cheese was applied, I stopped being able to tell any difference. So the TJ's are a pretty good imitation, falling just a little short of the original.

Will I buy it again? 

Not unless a national shortage of Triscuits breaks out.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


This is my weekly compilation of news and other links related to Trader Joe's.

31 Trader Joe's favorites you can't live without

The best 30 items to buy at Trader Joe's

NPR story on the appellate decision in the Pirate Joe's case

New Trader Joe's items for August

Easy Trader Joe's meals

10 Trader Joe's snacks you'll instantly fall in love with

Best tweets of the week:



And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag:

Trader Joe's Indian Fare--Palak Paneer

This is Day Seven of Indian Food Week: 

This is one of the most visually unappealing foods I've ever had from TJ's. It's green slime. It ends up not tasting nearly as bad as it looks--it's pretty decent, actually--but it's really hard to take that first bite when the stuff looks like you skimmed it off the top of a swamp.

Will I buy it again? 


Nina's View

IF ONLY this looked like the picture on the front. It does not. It looks like sewer sludge, and the bits of paneer are mere tiny lumps of congealed sludge in a sea of sludge.

It does taste passable, but seriously NOWHERE near as good as palak paneer should actually taste. TJ's frozen version is much better, but any half-way decent Indian restaurant will blow both of them out of the water.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Dal Makhani

This is Day Six of Indian Food Week: 

Of the three new canned Indian sauces, this was easily the best. Hearty, tasty, just the right amount of spiciness. Poured over rice, it's basically a complete meal in a can.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes--and it's the only one of the trio for which I can say that.

Nina's View

I give this product a resounding meh.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Trader Joe's Chana Masala

This is Day Five of Indian Food Week: 

This is the second of three canned Indian sauces that Trader Joe's released several weeks ago.

It's acceptable, but dull. Its flavor is Indian, but toned way down to the point of lifelessness. I blame that damned Blandification Committee.

Will I buy it again?