Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

Following the #TraderJoes hashtag on Twitter, I of course see what brand-new products catch people's attention. But I also see which older ones people express their undying love for--and this is one of the most frequent in that category. So I finally tried it.

I can't join the chorus of fans. The milk chocolate is nice, but the pretzel is just a thin shell between the chocolate and the peanut butter. And the peanut butter is, well, solidified, not creamy. I assume they have to sort of desiccate it in some way to keep its oils from soggifying the pretzel, but the result is that there's nothing "butter" about it.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Did not like.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Trader Joe's Colby-Jack Longhorn Cheese

The bad news: This went irredeemably moldy faster than any other cheese I've bought from Trader Joe's. (As you can see, I forgot to take a picture of it when I brought it home, so some of the mold is documented here.)

The good news: The half that I ate was so lifeless and uninteresting and bland that it didn't really bother me to have to throw away the other half.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, February 26, 2018

Trader Joe's 100% Mango Juice From Carabao Mangoes

I first heard of Carabao mangoes when Trader Joe's came out with Supersweet Dried Carabao Mango. I declared them the best way to eat mangoes ever devised. So when I saw this canned juice from the same variety, I was ready to love it. After all, as I've noted many times before, when Trader Joe's does a single-ingredient juice, as this is, there's a good chance it will be perfectly executed.

Sadly, this isn't. Even more sadly, the problem is obvious, as is a simple solution that could and should have been implemented before putting this on the shelves. It's the can. There's a definitely metallic off-note to this juice. All of TJ's other superb pure juices are in glass bottles. Do the same for this stuff, and I think it would join that pantheon. I don't understand how the TJ's team could have missed this during product development/acquisition.

Will I buy it again? 

No--at least not until they wise up and use bottles instead of cans.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


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

A week of healthy food from Trader Joe's for $50

The 25 best products at Trader Joe's for college students

Taste test of grocery store guacamoles

The best Trader Joe's products of all time, ranked

Bonus cartoon:

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, February 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Pesto Tortelloni

Disappointingly bland and uninteresting. It required some of TJ's Arrabiata Sauce to make it worth eating.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Carrot Spirals

These are, as the name implies, just long carrot shavings (with a bit of salt added). Trader Joe's suggests using them as a substitute for spaghetti. (See here.) Nina agrees. She thought they were "nice" and worked well in that role.

I guess I'm more basic. I just thought they tasted like mediocre carrot shreds, and seemed like an odd choice for a faux pasta. I like carrots, but I prefer them raw, with all the crunch intact.

But I can see the other side of it. If it's important to you to avoid gluten and/or carbs, maybe you should give these "spirals" a try in place of spaghetti.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Beehive Cheese Big John's Cajun

I seem to be on a streak of hot/peppery cheeses lately. It started with the Jalapeno Monterey Jack, then the Chipotle Toscano. Then I saw somebody post on Twitter about a new "ghost pepper cheddar cheese," which of course I wanted to try. I didn't see it at my TJ's, but while looking for it, I noticed this, and decided to add it to my peppery cheese experience.

It's delicious. The flavor is primarily cayenne pepper, and it's mostly concentrated near the rind. This means that a slice on a cracker gives you one mild end and one hot end--kind of unusual, but I didn't mind the contrast.

You can read the manufacturer's description of this cheese, and get recipes for using it, here.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. Though it's good, I think I still liked the Jalapeno Monterey Jack better. But this is definitely tasty, and worth a try; I think you'll find that it's different from every other cheese you've had.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Trader Joe's The Milk Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar

This is the obvious counterpart to the Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar. I used to prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, at least to be eaten alone. I guess my tastes have evolved, because now I find myself thinking that milk chocolate is better for coating stuff and making bars with other stuff thrown in, but not so good for eating plain. This is clearly high-quality chocolate, judging from its creaminess, the smoothness of its flavor, and lack of any waxiness. But it's just not particularly interesting. There's no richness or complexity or surprise.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, February 19, 2018

Trader Joe's Chicken Sausage Breakfast Burrito

To the best of my knowledge, Trader Joe's has had only one item called a "breakfast burrito" before--and it was terrible.

This new one is much, much better. Not great, but tasty enough to be enjoyable. It's still on the bland side, and could use a little more kick with the addition of some sort of mild hot sauce, or a spicier sausage recipe, but I liked it as is. It's also far easier to prepare than the previous frozen version--90 seconds in the microwave oven was just right, as the label directs.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. I rarely eat any breakfast. Of course I could eat it for some other meal, but if I'm in the mood for a burrito, a breakfast burrito is not usually on my mind. I'd choose this one instead. Or if it's going to be one of those rare occasions that I include poultry, this chicken burrito bowl.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


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

8 Trader Joe's chocolate bars that would impress Willy Wonka

Trader Joe's tulips are a bargain

10 quirky things to know about Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's has a contest for customers' food mash-ups

10 best chocolate desserts you can get at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, February 16, 2018

Trader Joe's Colorful Carrot Coins

Just as the package promises, this product consists of multicolored carrot slices, lightly seasoned. They remind me a lot of the Roasted Rainbow Potatoes, in terms of their function--a pretty, inoffensively flavored, and easy to prepare side dish. They're even easier, though, as a few minutes of microwaving does the job, unlike the potatoes' required oven warming.

Will I buy it again? 

Not regularly. But as part of an occasional fancified dinner when I have guests, sure.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Trader Joe's Double Dozen Tulips

Photo by Nina Tovish.

I bought these for Nina yesterday. There were so many that they looked crowded in even a large vase. She split them into two vases, so what you're seeing here is only half of the bunch. They're a steal at $10.99. (See here for a price comparison.)

Will I buy it again? 

Sure--unless these prove to be unusually short-lived.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Trader Joe's Chipotle Toscano Cheese

My local Trader Joe's is pushing this hard. Not only is it the feature cheese of the month, but it was being sampled two days in a row.

It was an easy choice to buy, as TJ's Toscano cheese with black pepper is on my Top Ten list. (I also liked the Toscano cheese soaked in wine, but didn't like the cinnamon version.)

I would rank this one below the black pepper, but above the wine-soaked. The chipotle pepper powder definitely pervades the whole block, though of course it's most intense near the rind. It adds a mild heat and a little sense of sweetness.

The cheese itself is, as with the other versions, lovely--rich, buttery, and flavorful but mild.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. I would choose the black pepper version over this. And if I want some heat with my cheese, I think I would choose the Jalapeno Monterey Jack Cheese over this, too.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Trader Joe's Rhubarb & Strawberry Soda

These are cute little cans of what is basically just strawberry soda; if there was a "tart rhubarb" component, I missed it. It's perfectly decent stuff (though Nina thought it was a little too sweet). If somebody handed me one at a party, I'd gladly drink it down, but it's not something I otherwise need in my life or would seek out.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, February 12, 2018

Trader Joe's Creamy Tomato Soup Seasoned Crackers

These are weird crackers. I had to really push my imagination to perceive anything that reminded me of creamy tomato soup. My first impression was of a burned, bitter taste.

I tried them with two different kinds of hummus and with TJ's Chipotle Black Bean Dip. The crackers' flavor didn't mesh well with any of them.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, February 10, 2018


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

Trader Joe's coffees, ranked by coffee snobs

Things I repeatedly buy from Trader Joe's

7-way grocery store price comparison

What it's really like to work at Trader Joe's

16 tips for shopping at Trader Joe's

10 Trader Joe's foods that can help you lose weight

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, February 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Jalapeno Monterey Jack Cheese

I didn't have high hopes for this cheese. In fact, I had passed it by several times, feeling quite sure that I wouldn't like it.

But I did! It's maybe a hair more peppery than I would make it if I were in charge, but not so much as to be overwhelming, or take away from the nice, mild cheese base. It slices easily without crumbling at all.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. It makes a nice change from the cheddar routine, I think. It would also spice up (literally) a cheese platter for a party.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Trader Joe's Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This is a pretty ordinary store-bought chocolate cake--maybe somewhat moister than most, but overall nothing extraordinary. With the first bite or two, I thought I tasted olive oil in it, but that sensation dissipated quickly, and I can't be sure that even that passing perception wasn't just expectation playing tricks on my mind.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I don't really bake, but I can make a chocolate cake from a super-easy mix that is as good or better than this, and cheaper.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Gummy Xs & Os

The texture of these candies is OK--maybe a little softer than ideal for gummies, but not a dealbreaker. It's the flavors that are the problem. There are three colors, and three flavors. The flavors are not identified anywhere on the package, but I think they are cherry (red), vanilla (pink), and coconut (white). And they're just not very good. The vanilla in particular seemed harsh and artificial. Nina didn't agree that the white ones tasted like coconut, but she couldn't figure out what else the flavor might be--which is not a good sign.

Will I buy it again? 

No. This went back to the store for a refund, where the clerk quietly admitted to me that he hadn't liked them, either.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Italian Artisan Pasta--Capunti

I had never heard of capunti before seeing this in the new-products section of Trader Joe's. The shape is supposed to be like an open pea pod. (See here for a guide to all the different pasta shapes.)

This stuff is slow to cook, and because it's not an even thickness, it leaves spots that are a bit tough and underdone, much like TJ's Trofie Colore.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, February 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Italian Mini Ravioli With Cheese Filling

Nina served this for dinner at her house last night. I had never noticed it on the TJ's shelves. Is it new? She says it was in the pasta section, not the new-products shelf. But I don't know how I could have missed it if it had been there long.

Anyway, I wasn't missing much. Even when the pasta was cooked just right, the dried cheese filling remained tough, an unpleasant lump of not-very-authentic-tasting cheese, approximately the texture of an old wad of chewing gum discovered under a school desk.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, February 3, 2018


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

My favorite items from Trader Joe's

Expand your wine horizons at Trader Joe's

21 uses for Trader Joe's "Everything But the Bagel" seasoning

5 Trader Joe's recipes that cost less than $5 per serving

Costco versus Trader Joe's price comparison

14 Trader Joe's items that will basically change your life

10 frozen vegan food items from Trader Joe's to try

Everything you need from Trader Joe's for a Super Bowl party

8 types of people who shop at Trader Joe's

Why are Trader Joe's salads so sad?

Best tweets of the week:

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

Plus, bonus video of the above cat and bag:

Friday, February 2, 2018

Trader Joe's Montasio Cheese

I had never heard of Montasio cheese before seeing it last week at Trader Joe's, as their feature cheese. You can learn as much as I know about it here.

I don't understand all the glowing descriptions in that article. I found its flavor to be mild to the point of blandness, and its texture to be waxy. Nothing offensive, and I had no trouble finishing the block I purchased, but I think it will quickly vanish from memory.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Sesame Seed Clusters Snack

This is a new product; see Trader Joe's own description of it here.

But that's not how I learned of its existence. I learned of it when Nina brought me an empty bag--with apologies. She had intended to eat just half and leave the rest for me to try, but found it so deliciously addicting that she couldn't stop. So I bought my own.

It's pretty good, but I didn't flip for it the way Nina did. It's kind of just crunchy bits of toasted coconut. The sesame seeds are pretty, but I can't tell that they add anything in terms of taste. The whole thing is pretty heavily sweetened, which I thought was its biggest flaw.

Will I buy it again? 

Not for myself, but now I know that I can get Nina to do anything I want by holding a bag of this stuff in front of her.