Saturday, September 30, 2017


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

10 cheap Trader Joe's chocolate treats

24 of the best healthy Trader Joe's snacks

17 awesome desserts from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's pumpkin products

Taste test of three Trader Joe's gluten-free pastas

New vegan food for fall at Trader Joe's

10 Trader Joe's comfort foods for fall

Your favorite Halloween decor this year may be from Trader Joe's

Trying to park at Trader Joe's (funny 3-minute video)

Trader Joe's fall staples hit the shelves

3 new Trader Joe's desserts to drool over

Comparing prices at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Cider Jam

Good jam, but with a somewhat deceptive name. Yes, there's apple cider in it, but you'd have no way to know this from tasting it. After all, apple cider is just unfiltered apple juice, so it tastes like...apples. Putting it in apple jam doesn't change much.

What makes this product different from most apple jams has nothing to do with the cider. It's the addition of a medley of what we now consider traditional autumn spices: cinnamon, cloves, etc. So you know what would be a more accurate name? "Apple Pie Jam." And I'd argue that that would be not just more accurate, but also more intriguing. It's jam that tastes like apple pie filling. Who would not want to try that?

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trader Joe's New Zealand Grass Fed Sharp Cheddar

Excellent white cheddar, though I wouldn't describe it as "sharp." It's definitely more flavorful than most, but without that, I dunno, "edge" of slight harshness that gets called sharpness in cheese. I guess I'd call it "mellow," without being bland or boring. It's soft and non-crumbling, making it easy to slice thin or thick.

Really, if I weren't already totally enamored with a couple of others, this would become my default white cheddar. It's just a notch below them, but head and shoulders above most of the genre (including the similarly named New Zealand Organic Cheddar).

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, though less often than my trio of favorites, Extra Sharp Canadian, Mull of Kintyre, and Lite Sharp Celtic.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Trader Joe's Sparkling Island Colada Spring Water

I've complained that some of the other products in this new line have too little flavor. This one, conversely, has too much. Where's Goldilocks when you need her?

The label lists only "natural flavors," without disclosing what they're supposed to be. But neither Nina nor I could discern anything but strong coconut--and to me it tasted strongly artificial, more like "coconut" than coconut.

Will I buy it again? 

No. While some of the others have been underwhelming, none has actually been unpleasant--until now.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trader Joe's Low Fat Tuscano Marinana Sauce

I went to grab another can of my newly-beloved green-can marinara sauce when I spotted this next to it. It's apparently not new, as I find it archived in old online Fearless Flyers at least as far back as 2012, yet somehow I had never noticed it before.

It's not nearly as good as its shelfmate. It's chunkier, which I don't care for. But more importantly, it's just bland and boring. It has no zing to it.

It is lower in fat than the other one (presumably because of less olive oil), but the trade-off is more sugar and salt:

Note that this one does have added sugar, while the green-can version does not.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 25, 2017

Trader Joe's Super Lemony Lemon Bites

I find reviews of this product dating back to 2013, so apparently it's nothing new, but I somehow never noticed it on the baked-goods table at my local Trader Joe's. I know that their bakery products are made regionally, and vary from one part of the country to another, so maybe it's new to my area.

Anyway, the first I knew about it was when Nina texted me a picture of her empty container, with this message: "Gone in 2 days. Best lemon-flavored dessert ever. I now weigh 400 lbs. I understand if you need to break up with me."

So of course I bought my own batch on my next TJ's run, so that we could both weigh 400 pounds. Except that that won't be happening, because I didn't love them nearly as much as Nina did.

They definitely have an admirable quantity of lemoniness, including that distinctive lemon sourness, which is unusual in baked goods. But I thought it was overbalanced by sweetness. The icing in particular seemed a bit much.

Also, you'd better be able to eat the whole bunch in two days, like Nina, because they dry out something terrible if left any longer than that. It's probably due to a high ratio of cut-surface area to volume in these small morsels.

Will I buy it again? 

Not for myself. But when I want to push Nina up to 500 lbs., I'll buy her a few more boxes.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


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

How to make your favorite Trader Joe's products at home

8 Trader Joe's foods I always keep in my freezer

Winning the grocery wars

What Trader Joe's figured out about work culture

Unhealthiest snacks at Trader Joe's

15 vegan Trader Joe's items

21 whole-food plant-based items at Trader Joe's

10 foods to put Trader Joe's Everything Bagel seasoning on

Target wine versus Two Buck Chuck

Marinate your Trader Joe's cheese

The annual pumpkin products are here

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Trader Joe's Organic Super Fruit Fruit Spread

This is the best jam/jelly/preserves/spread I've ever had from Trader Joe's, and one of the best I've ever had from any source. Though the cherry is the most prominent, three of the four main fruit ingredients are readily identifiable (I haven't been able to make out the pomegranate component), which is not usually the case when these things get blended. It uses fruit juice concentrates as sweeteners, not sucrose. It's sweet, of course, but it doesn't taste sweetened, even though it is.

Will I buy it again? 

Definitely. I'm even adding it to my Top Ten list.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Mango & Sticky Rice Spring Rolls

The "mango" part of these rolls is kind of deceptive; there's very little mango, so little that I could barely taste it.

The overwhelming sensation is of sweetness--so much that it was kind of a turn-off.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trader Joe's Shells With Brie And Asparagus

Looking around the web, I see reviews of this product dating back a few years, so it's obviously been around for a while, but I had never noticed it until a recent browse through the TJ's freezers.

It's OK, not great. I'm not a fan of asparagus, so that portion of it had to be tolerated rather than enjoyed. There's really not enough to serve two as the package claims--but I didn't object too much, because it wasn't good enough to want more. (Opening line of Woody Allen's "Annie Hall": "There's an old joke. Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of them says, 'Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.' And the other one says, 'Yeah, I know--and such small portions.'")

Will I buy it again? 

No. The best store-bought mac & cheese I've found yet is Cracker Barrel's white cheddar. Looking at just the Trader Joe's offerings, the Organic Shells and White Cheddar is better. Or if I want really minimal preparation so that I'm going for frozen, I'd pick the Hatch Chile version over this every time.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trader Joe's Chocolate Filled Crepes

These look wonderful in the picture on the box. In real life, however, they're unprepossessing (to use one of my father's favorite words). They don't come with the attractive shaved chocolate to sprinkle on top, nor with the freshly picked raspberries to perch on the side.

They are, however, pretty tasty, with a generous helping of chocolate filling of just the right consistency to be soft and almost liquid but not runny. The crepes themselves were a bit soggy, but better than I would have guessed you could get from a product that went from freezer to microwave to plate in less than two minutes.

Will I buy it again? 

Undecided. It's not the sort of thing I usually indulge in, and they're really not pretty enough to serve guests. So although I enjoyed them, I'm not sure they have a place in my life.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


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

About that Trader Joe's jackfruit-in-brine...

Trader Joe's bad Spanish

Best backpacking foods from Trader Joe's

8 new foods to pick up at Trader Joe's

6 ways to use Trader Joe's umami paste

10 best fall comfort foods from Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat--not in a Trader Joe's grocery bag, but cradling a Trader Joe's wine bottle, which is close enough. (Source.)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Soft & Juicy Mango

That's right, folks--this is the fifth day in a row of reviewing versions of Trader Joe's dried mango, and we're still not done yet!

This one does rightfully earn its claim of "soft." It's a lot easier to bite into than the Chokanan or the Just Mango. Juicy? That's a stretch--and what "juice" there is occurs only because mango juice has been added to the product (according to the list of ingredients). I find it baffling that one would take fruit, dry it by removing the juice, then add juice back into it.

Worse, though, is that they've also added sugar. The result is definitely sweeter than the others reviewed this week, but no better than the Supersweet Dried Carabao, which remains, in my mind, the gold standard of the genre. It also stands as irrefutable evidence that you don't need to add sugar (or juice) to make for good dried mango.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Trader Joe's Just Mango Slices

Eating this reminded me of that famous scene of Charlie Chaplin eating his shoe. Don't buy it. If you want straight dried mango, the Chokanan variety reviewed yesterday is better--sweeter and less leathery tough. And the Carabao variety is even better than that.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Trader Joe's Mango Chokanan Variety

I don't know from mango varieties. But what's in this package is exactly what I would expect from the generic descriptor, "dried mango." It's like the texture of most dried fruit--tough, chewy, leathery. And it tastes like moderately concentrated mango.

Will I buy it again? 

I doubt it. Though they were unconventional, I liked both the crispy-crunchy and the freeze-dried better than this.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Mango

Like the Crispy Crunchy Mango Chips reviewed yesterday, this bag was lost and forgotten in my cupboards until I unearthed it while moving recently. It's apparently even older, with a best-by date of September 2015. And again, I don't even know if it's still available. [EDIT: It is--I saw it on the shelves just a few days ago.] I decided to ignore the expiration date. After all, they're freeze-dried and then sealed up to make them last forever, right?

The texture could not be more different from the fried chips. They're sort of the texture of puffed-corn cereal, or maybe circus peanuts that have gotten dried out. You can actually see air spaces throughout, making them amazingly light.

The only ingredient is mango--no oil, no sweeteners, no preservatives. But I would have had a hard time identifying the pieces as mango if I didn't know it in advance. I have a hard time explaining why, but I think it's more the texture than the flavor. It's just hard to believe that anything that so closely resembles Styrofoam packing peanuts is actually fruit.

But they're really good! I kept switching back and forth between these and the fried mango chips, and I couldn't decide which I liked more. They're completely different, but equally successful--and equally odd--presentations of mango.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 11, 2017

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Mango Chips

I bought this a few years ago--I don't really have any idea when, but it carries a "best by" date of May 2016. It got buried under other stuff in my cupboards and forgotten, until my recent move. For all I know, it might have been discontinued long ago,rendering this review useless; I haven't checked. But it was still perfectly good.

The chips appear to have been fried; palm oil is the only listed ingredient other than mango. They are extremely crunchy, like the most overdone little French fries at the bottom of the McDonald's bag. This contrast with what my brain expects mango to be was weirdly pleasant, like an intriguing paradox.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, if they still make it. I found it to be quite a compelling late-night snack.

Saturday, September 9, 2017


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

Price comparison among Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Aldi, Wal-Mart, Publix

21 versatile Trader Joe's products and easy ways to use them

The relationship between Aldi and Trader Joe's

Typography of Trader Joe's hand-painted signs

18 insanely delicious snacks at Trader Joe's

How are Trader Joe's and Target wines so cheap? 

10 Trader Joe's products to always keep in your freezer

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat--not in a Trader Joe's grocery bag, but with some Trader Joe's stickers.

#MeltheCat stayed home but I went to #TraderJoes #50thAnniversary and got the #special #stickers #reusablebag & #highfive on the #spin #giveaway! #caturday #catoftheday #catsofinstagram #tjs #LA #🐱 #メル #猫 はお留守番だったけど週末はあの #トレーダージョーズ #50周年 で各店舗でいろんなイベントやっててハシゴ♡ #顔ハメ したり #限定 #エコバッグ 狙いでやった #ルーレット #ゲーム はテンション高すぎる店員さんと #ハイファイブ というハズレ(笑) このエコバッグもだけど他にもフランスパンやパスタが50周年にちなんで50セントだったし色々買ったら限定の #ステッカー こんなにもらえて帰ってメルに自慢😼 @ #ロサンゼルス #カリフォルニア #皆既日食 で今盛り上がってるけど #トレジョ の次のこういうイベントは60周年?80周年?もしかしたら100周年までやらないかもしれないしこっちのがある意味貴重なんじゃないかと思ったりw
A post shared by MEG & MEL the Cat (@meg_melthecat) on

Friday, September 8, 2017

Trader Joe's Sparkling Lemon Spring Water

This is the least successful of the three flavors from this line that I've tried (see here and here). The lemon is so weak as to be barely noticeable. You end up with a highly carbonated water with just a whiff of lemon that makes you wonder whether it's really there or you're just imagining it.

Will I buy it again? 

No. What's the point?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Trader Joe's Camel Milk Soap With Olive Oil & Honey

This was on the new products shelf at Trader Joe's (along with a similar one made from goat milk), and was only $1.99, so I decided to try it.

It seems like pretty ordinary soap, except that the shape of the bar is a lot closer to square than most hand/bath soaps. The fragrance is so mild that I couldn't make out any particular scent.

I think this is the first time I've touched either a camel or anything made from a camel. Except maybe a camel-hair paintbrush. Oh, and there was that one crazy night in Morocco, but I was drunk and the statute of limitations has expired.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Nor do I think there's any point in trying the goat-milk version. I'll just stick to my old standard, Dove, with the occasional indulgence in the lavender bar from TJ's that I like.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Trader Joe's Super Sweet Cut White Corn

Nothing special here, just frozen white corn kernels. Heat and eat.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Canned corn is just as good and easier to deal with. And if I'm going for frozen, TJ's own roasted corn tastes better.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Trader Joe's Roasted Corn

I liked this a lot. I served it to my visiting family with dinner, and it was a hit with everybody. There's nothing mysterious here--just roasted corn. But it's a lot easier to make than roasting your own. And even if yours would come out right every time, mine wouldn't, so I'm happy to let Trader Joe's do it properly. I'll just heat and serve.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 4, 2017

Trader Joe's Par-Baked Organic Pizza Crusts

So far I've had just one of the two crusts that came in this package. The flavor was fine. The size was just right to serve two of us.

I was mildly irked that it did not have the raised edge shown in the photo, so it was basically impossible to keep the sauce from running off of one side while the pizza baked. I shorted the baking time by two minutes because I could see that the cheese was completely melted and starting to burn. This caused the crust to come out a little underdone and doughy. For the second one, I think I might try baking the crust alone for a few minutes before adding the toppings.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably. We'll see how the second one goes, but I think there's potential for a good, useful product here. It's sure a lot easier than the pizza dough we tried once before.


I used the second one a week later. I tried baking it for four minutes, then pulling it out to put on the toppings. But the result wasn't really any better, perhaps because this time I had failed to let it thaw beforehand. So the quest for the formula for perfect doneness continues.

Saturday, September 2, 2017


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

Man killed in forklift accident at Trader Joe's warehouse

Trader Joe's announces recall of breakfast sausage

10 best Trader Joe's snacks for under $5

Things you should and shouldn't buy at Trader Joe's

The 16 best cheeses at Trader Joe's

Can newly lowered Whole Foods prices compete with Trader Joe's?

Wine Guy tries 4 Charles Shaw wines

9 things you'll understand only if you shop at Trader Joe's

The best frozen Italian foods from Trader Joe's

We have a bumper crop of best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Trader Joe's Cornbread Crisps

As you might guess, these are cracker-sized morsels of crisp cornbread. They magically combine the distinctive taste of cornbread with the texture of thick crackers.

It's an unusual combination, one that I've never heard of before. And it works; they're quite tasty.

I'm not sure what their optimal usage is, though. They're OK to just munch on by themselves, but it seems that something is missing. I tried using them to dip into some Chipotle Black Bean Dip, and that didn't seem quite right. Further experimentation will be required. Maybe with some of TJ's nice queso?

Will I buy it again? 

I'm not sure. It depends on whether I can figure out their place in my snacking universe.