Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trader Joe's Candy Corn Popcorn

Think of caramel corn, but with the sweet coating tasting vaguely of candy corn instead of caramel. That's what you've got here. I don't think it works well. It's just too weird. But Nina said she liked it better than standard caramel corn, so your mileage may vary.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I would instead choose TJ's most excellent caramel popcorn over this 100% of the time.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tikka Samosas

I'm still very much hit-and-miss on Indian food. I approach it skeptically, worried that it will be too spicy or have too much onion. Sometimes I'm right, sometimes I get pleasantly surprised. It's a good strategy, because either I get my prejudices confirmed or I get a tasty meal--and I feel good either way!

These were in the surprisingly good category. I baked them 18 minutes instead of the recommended maximum of 16, based on way too much experience with Trader Joe's underestimating frozen-to-serving cook time. I think I was right to do so. The texture came out perfectly, with delightfully crispy outer pastry (far better than one would expect from a frozen product), but nothing scorched.

The insides were pleasantly spicy--not too much.

Complaints: 1. Serving size of two samosas? TWO? Are you serious? I had six (half of the box) as the main part of my lunch and could have had at least a couple more. On a day with a bigger appetite, I could have eaten all 12--and I weigh only 150 pounds. This is one of the most egregious portion-size misrepresentations I've seen from TJ's. 2. They had an odd sweet note that feels like it doesn't belong. 3. Product of Canada? Really? That's where we get our Indian food now?

Will I buy it again? 

Sadly, no, because chicken. I keep trying to do my small part to reduce the world's industrial poultry-farming, which even the most superficial look will tell you is pretty obscene.

Saturday, October 27, 2018


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

All of Trader Joe's pumpkin-flavored foods, ranked

17 Trader Joe's holiday products their employees are excited about

Recipes that use Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi, rice, and pizza crust

Try these Trader Joe's pumpkin products before they're gone

Eating through Trader Joe's 2018 pumpkin-spiced orgy

10 best holiday items at Trader Joe's, according to employees

Power rankings: Trader Joe's fall foods

Grocery shopping at Trader Joe's with a dietitian

5 seasonal items at Trader Joe's we love

Price comparison: Acme, Aldi, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, October 26, 2018

Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

This one isn't complicated. These things are shredded coconut held together in a dense, sweet cake, covered in chocolate. How could I not like them. How could ANYBODY not like them?

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Trader Joe's White Stilton Cheese With Cranberries

I've tried two Trader Joe's Stilton cheeses before, one with apricots and one with mango and ginger. I don't like this one nearly as much as I did either of those. It's hard to be sure, but I think the problem is that the cranberries are artificially sweetened (see "fructose" on the list of ingredients in the photo above). I would love to try a version in which the cranberry bits were left in their natural, unsweetened state. I suspect the tartness would partner with the mild cheese in a really interesting way.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I would prefer either of the other two (though I think they've all been just temporary offerings, no longer available). But I wouldn't buy any of them again simply because the exceptionally crumbly nature of the underlying Stilton makes them frustratingly difficult to eat.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butternut Squash Bisque

Not a winner. It's pretty thick, basically just a slightly watered-down puree of pumpkin and squash, with some peppers and other spices thrown in, plus some sweetness, presumably from the honey they've added. I ate my half with dinner last night, but I wasn't thrilled about it. Nina ate only a few spoonfuls of her half before rejecting the rest. No specific criticisms--just didn't like it.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Shredded 3 Cheese Blend

Very flavorful--surprisingly so, in fact. I liked it so much that it will become my new default shredded cheese, displacing the Shredded Sharp Cheddar.

The only odd thing about this product is the astoundingly dull packaging. This is not typical of Trader Joe's whimsy. Its plainness reminds me of the generic black-and-white packaging fad of the 1970s.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, October 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Hot Cocoa Dunkers

I don't dunk cookies. I just don't. Never have, never will. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with people who dunk (though I have my suspicions); I'm just not one of them.

So arguably I should have just left this tub of Dunkers on the TJ's shelf, leaving both the eating and reviewing to somebody who would use them in the intended way. But that's not what I did. I bought them, and I ate them--dry and straight up.

They're pretty decent. However, I didn't like the chocolate coating on the bottom, as it melts on the hands too easily. I was also disappointed in the marshmallow bits, which were hard and dry, not soft and squishy.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I did eventually eat the whole tub, a few at a time, but I never became enthusiastic about them. Go ask somebody who dunks.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


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

Trader Joe's announces recall of salads due to potential bacterial contamination

Trader Joe's staples for a plant-based CrossFitter

Meal prep for a week using only Trader Joe's ingredients

Trader Joe's: More than just your favorite store

Eating through Trader Joe's 2018 pumpkin-spice orgy

Trader Joe's fall favorites

Top 10 Trader Joe's must-haves

5 fall items from Trader Joe's that you'll love

8 Trader Joe's pumpkin products that breastfeeding moms need

If you haven't been to Trader Joe's yet, let me tell you why you're wrong

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti

Apologies for the blurry picture. I didn't realize until much too late that my camera had inexplicably decided that a random point in the foreground was where it should focus.

I'm not very picky about pasta. Basically, it's either normal, or it's weird. This is normal. I don't care about it being organic. I don't mind it being whole wheat instead of otherwise; I don't find the taste noticeably different, and if it gets me a few extra vitamins or more fiber, okey-dokey.

The surprising reaction came from Nina. She has previously been down on whole-wheat pasta, on the grounds that they never get the texture right--but she gave this one a strong thumbs-up. She even said that she would be content to use this as her default pasta.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I'm mostly indifferent to which particular variety of "normal" spaghetti I use, but if this stuff makes my bae happy, then I'll keep it on hand.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Alfredo Sauce

Frankly, I thought this product sounded like a terrible idea. Ruin perfectly good Alfredo sauce with pumpkin and squash? Preposterous. On the other hand, I had previously thought the same thing about salsa and marinara, and was dead wrong both times; they ended up with Top Ten rankings.

I was wrong again. I loved this. The pumpkin/squash actually blends with and complements the cheesy sauce very nicely.

Nina was less excited. She thought it was too thick and "gloppy." She's not entirely wrong about that; it would be nicer if it flowed and spread more readily.

But it was such a nice break from marinaras, and such a surprise win, that I'm willing to overlook that flaw.

So maybe I shouldn't pre-judge so much next time?

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, at least once more this season while it's still around.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Cold Pressed Fuji Apple Spiced Cider

I very much enjoyed this, but I don't think it's noticeably different from any number of apple/cinnamon/clove concoctions one can buy this time of year, such as TJ's own Spiced Cider. It is astonishingly sweet--so much so that Nina felt sure it had added sugar, until I checked the label and found none.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's good, but the price per ounce is just too high to justify.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Trader Joe's Harvest Chili

From looking at the ingredients list, I thought this seemed like a bad idea--too much squash/cauliflower/pumpkin/sweet potato, and not enough traditional chili ingredients. Upon actually eating it, that concern was confirmed. But I found that an even bigger problem could be stated as "too many onions, not enough tomato." I didn't hate it, but I sure wouldn't have called it "chili" if I had tasted it without benefit of seeing the label. "Spicy vegetable soup," maybe.

Will I buy it again? 

No. Give me soy chorizo chili over this anytime.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trader Joe's French Fromage Slices

This is a package of boring, lifeless cheese slices. On crackers, I found I had to double up the slices to get any sort of cheese flavor. I made identical sandwiches two days in a row, first with Kraft American slices--the good "Deli Deluxe" variety--then with this product. The first was tasty. My impression the second day was, "Where's the cheese?"

Will I buy it again? 

Certainly not.

Saturday, October 13, 2018


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

5 Trader Joe's beauty products for under $7

5 things you should never buy at Trader Joe's

5 weird things that customers do at Trader Joe's

The best backcountry snacks from Trader Joe's

9 cozy fall foods from Trader Joe's

10 healthy things to 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, October 12, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries--Hot Cocoa

This is the latest in a product line that has featured cherry-pomegranate, brown sugar and cinnamon, strawberry, and the seasonal pumpkin flavors.

I like these, no question. But with the chocolate variety even more than with the others, it's impossible to ignore the fact that you're eating what is basically a sugary dessert, rather than a healthy breakfast food. They are basically the embodiment of Bill Cosby's famous story of feeding his kids chocolate cake for breakfast.

Will I buy it again? 

I enjoyed every bite, but no.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Glimmering Pumpkins Sugar Coated Sugar Cookies

Nice to look at. Not so nice to eat. Except for the sugar sprinkled on top, these are the most sugarless sugar cookies I've ever had. They taste like unbaked flour. Ick.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I powered my way through two of them, but the rest are going back to the store for a refund.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Trader Joe's Gelato--Pistachio

Nina bought this. I tried a little bit at her house. I'm just not a fan of pistachio, which is why I didn't buy it for myself. This didn't change my mind. But Nina says it's the best pistachio ice cream she's ever had, and she's not prone to making such declarations lightly. So if you like pistachio ice cream, you might want to give this a try.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Trader Joe's Gelato--Caramel Cookie Crunch

This is a new product line at Trader Joe's. So far there are just two flavors available, this one and pistachio. I would guess that more are coming.

The texture is first-rate, extremely smooth and creamy. I liked both the caramel and the cookie flavors, though I didn't think they worked particularly well together. Not a clash, exactly, but also not a successful, harmonious pairing.

As I was eating it, I kept thinking that this texture would work much better with a single flavor, especially a fruit like strawberry or raspberry. I hope those are coming, because they should be fabulous.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, October 8, 2018

Trader Joe's To The Power Of Seven Green Organic Juice Blend

The original Power of Seven remains one of my all-time favorite juices. I love it. The only thing that prevents me from always having it on hand is its relatively high cost. So of course I had to try its new sibling, despite misgivings from seeing kale and spinach juices as the first ingredients.

I can instantly discern the apple and celery components, the cucumber with a little more mental probing of my taste buds. I'll just have to take Trader Joe's word for it that there's lemon and ginger. But the dominant flavor is, well, grass clippings, surely coming from the kale and spinach.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I don't hate it, but it feels more like taking medicine than drinking something I enjoy. Who wants to start the day like that?

Saturday, October 6, 2018


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

Trader Joe's shopping secrets that save you time and money

Our top 30 items at Trader Joe's

The Trader Joe's pumpkin foods that you need in your life

Coolest new Trader Joe's products this fall

25 addictive snacks Trader Joe's shoppers swear by

$75 Trader Joe's coupon circulating on social media is bogus

Trader Joe's pumpkin products, ranked

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Yellow Curry Chopped Salad

Let's list what you're getting here. In the main bag are chopped lettuce, red cabbage, and carrots, plus some naan "chips" (some of which were crunchy, and some of which were soft--a strange discrepancy). Then there are small plastic bags inside, one containing some cashews, one with a miserly portion of golden raisins, and one with the dressing--probably four times what you could possibly want for the amount of salad here.

So all of the yellow-curry-ness of this product is in the dressing. It's supposed to be a lime vinaigrette, but I couldn't attest to that, as I noticed not a speck of lime flavor. It does have a full compliment of traditional curry spices, though the overall effect did little to remind me of actual Indian curry dishes I've had.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's unsatisfying, unconvincing, overly packaged, and a little weird.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Seeded Bread

Seeds on the inside. Seeds on the outside. Seeds left on the counter. Seeds left in the toaster. Seeds left on the butter knife. Seeds left on your plate.




Which leaves me torn, because this is one of the tastiest grocery-store loaves of bread I've ever bought. Really--it's delicious. But did I mention the seeds? It's only a slight exaggeration to say that it's a loaf of seeds, loosely held together by wisps of bread. Fortunately, none of them are hard kernels that challenge the integrity of one's teeth. But still--so many seeds. 

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, probably. If they would at least stop dusting the outside of the loaf with more seeds, so that the bread didn't leave a seedy mess on everything it touches, my answer would change to an enthusiastic yes, and likely even a dual Staples and Top Ten listing, even though the seeds baked in would still make it the seediest bread ever to win my loyalty. As it stands, though, I really hate how the seeds flake off everywhere. It's otherwise so outstanding as a sandwich bread that I'll probably put up with it at least once in a while to get that lovely flavor. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Trader Joe's Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

This is a new product at Trader Joe's, and likely seasonal (though not explicitly announced as such).

I was not in a hurry, so I skipped the microwave option and did the full oven-baking method. Based on long prior experience with TJ's understating the cook time of frozen items, I used the maximum recommended on the box: 55 minutes covered in foil, then 10 minutes uncovered. It still wasn't enough! The promised crisping/browning of the top was just barely starting around the edges. But everything else in my dinner was ready and starting to get cold at that point, so I pulled it out of the oven anyway.

Nina described the product well: "It's cheese with some texture." That's correct. Sure, there's some spaghetti squash in there, but you'll know it only by the fact that there's something to chew on, not because you can taste it. The cheese flavor completely masks it. Not that a dominant cheese taste is intrinsically a bad thing, but it's not what one would call a harmonious balancing of ingredients.

Will  I buy it again? 


Monday, October 1, 2018

Trader Joe's Cut And Peeled Carrots; Trader Joe's Organic Cut And Peeled Carrots

I bought these at the same time, and tried several of each side by side multiple times. My expectation was that there would be no difference. I don't share the common idea that organic produce is better than non-organic. Quite the opposite, in fact; I prefer the lower cost of non-organic, I think non-organics are probably better for the environment overall, and I don't think there is any consistent advantage either way in taste or quality. (Watch this old episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" for an overview.)

But I have to admit that several times I have directly compared organic and non-organic versions of products from Trader Joe's, and most often I have found the organic superior. These baby carrots continue that trend. Without question, the organic ones were sweeter and more flavorful. Of course, it's entirely possible that this was just a random batch-to-batch variation, and that repeating the test another time would produce different results.

I suspect the two products come from different suppliers, because the organic ones are cut to be fatter, and it seems unlikely that one supplier would cut them differently. I preferred that cut, in addition to the taste advantage.

Will I buy it again? 

The organic, yes; non-organic, no.