Saturday, September 21, 2019


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

13 Trader Joe's items to try if you hate cooking

Product comparison between Trader Joe's and Costco

7 three-ingredient dinners from Trader Joe's

7 ways to use Trader Joe's new Everything Bagel Greek Yogurt Dip

Trader Joe's "balancing act" on innovative products

5 healthy dinner recipes with just 5 ingredients from Trader Joe's

What to do with Trader Joe's cinnamon bun spread

3 new fall-themed products at Trader Joe's

5 new Trader Joe's products to try, and 5 to skip

6 Trader Joe's pumpkin products a dietitian loves

PETA praises Trader Joe's for removing circus elephant images from packages

Trader Joe's employees reveal what it's really like to work there

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Bun Spread

The idea is genius: take the ooey gooey good stuff that tops Cinnabons, and sell it in a jar. Convert ordinary toast into a simulacrum of the decadent breakfast that we indulge in at the airport before an early-morning flight.

But it doesn't really work. The texture is pleasantly thick and creamy, but the taste misses the mark. There's some cinnamon, sure, but it's kind of wimpy. The tapioca and brown sugar seem more prominent. And without the cream-cheese element, it can't replicate what Cinnabon does.

Now, to be fair, they're not claiming Cinnabon specifically, so I'm making a comparison that TJ's doesn't. After all, not all cinnamon buns are Cinnabons. But that's what I was hoping for, and I ended up disappointed.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's OK, but not great. It's basically a thickened, spreadable form of cinnamon sugar. I don't need that.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Trader Joe's Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers

This is a soured-up version of the original. See Trader Joe's introduction to the product here. "Flavors include: red berry (starfish), huckleberry (dolphin), orange (tang fish), and strawberry (clam shell)."

I liked these much more than the original. The tartness improves them by a factor of <doing math> precisely 3.8.

My only gripe was that the bag I bought was inexplicably biased toward the red berry starfish; at least half of my candies were that one flavor, with the others given short shrift. This is probably just a weird sampling problem that won't be repeated in other bags.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 16, 2019

Trader Joe's Bloody Mary Salsa

See Trader Joe's description of the product here. It was introduced back in June. I chose not to buy it the first couple of times I looked at it. The reason is simple: the second ingredient, after "diced tomatoes in juice," is horseradish. Horseradish is on my list of things that I know I don't like even though I've never tried them.

But Friday I was shopping for stuff for dinner with Nina that night, and I needed some kind of dip for an appetizer, and this was still on the new-products shelf, and I felt kind of silly for being afraid of it, so I popped it into my basket.

I'm glad I did. It has a unique flavor profile, which I assume is primarily due to that horseradish. But it might also be enhanced by an assortment of other ingredients that I'm not used to seeing on a salsa jar label: pickling brine, Worcestershire sauce, capers, and lemon juice. It's like mad-scientist salsa. Another thing I've never had: A bloody Mary. So I have no idea if those things are expected ingredients, but I don't care.

Whatever crazy recipe got us here, it works. It's maybe a tad hotter than I would consider ideal (though TJ's left their usual thermometer indicator off of the label, for some reason), but I loved it. Nina and I ate about 1/3 of the jar before dinner, then the next night I blitzkrieged through the rest of the jar on my own, with the reliable Organic Corn Chip Dippers as the vehicle.

Could it be that...I like horseradish?

Will I buy it again? 

Enthusiastically. It's even under consideration for Top Ten list, though I'm not quite there yet. It's definitely joining my regular salsa rotation, alongside Fire Roasted Tomato, Fall Harvest, Cowboy Caviar, and Organic Tomatillo. Five completely different kinds of salsa, and I love them all.

For those paying attention, it has been less than four years since I first bought and ate salsa from a grocery store (see the Fall Harvest review for the story). The Bloody Mary is the 23rd Trader Joe's salsa I have tried, and of those there are now five that I eat on the regular. See? People can change.

Saturday, September 14, 2019


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

9 best comfort foods at Trader Joe's

29 jokes about Trader Joe's

15 new Trader Joe's vegan-friendly products

My Trader Joe's favorites

Best pumpkin products at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's newest groceries for fall

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute cat in a Trader Joe's grocery bag with its Trader Joe's Honey Mints. (Note: Please do not feed chocolate to your cat.)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Trader Joe's Shakshuka Starter

I had never heard of shakshuka until Trader Joe's came out with this product. From Wikipedia: "Shakshouka (Arabic: ุดูƒุดูˆูƒุฉ‎, also spelled shakshuka or chakchouka) is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Although the dish has existed in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions, its more recent egg and vegetable-based form originated in the Maghreb region of North Africa (Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia)." See Trader Joe's description of the product here.

The directions say to microwave it for a while, then use a spoon to make two indentations in the top into which you break two eggs (not included). But it was soupy enough that the indentations couldn't retain their shape, and the eggs ended up just kind of layered across the top. That didn't really matter; it looked kinda funny, but still tasted good.

I liked it. Just the right amount of spiciness to be interesting, not too much onion or garlic for me. The quantity was awkward--a little much for one person, yet wouldn't have been enough for two.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I wouldn't call it a new favorite, but it will make a nice occasional change-up from my usual home menu. Nina liked it, too--maybe even more than I did.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Peruvian Potato Chips

As you can see, these chips are made from potatoes of several different colors, so they're much prettier than most. In texture and oiliness, they're like thick-cut, kettle-cooked. They're sturdy enough to be good dip scoopers, though there's a lot of small and broken ones that don't do well for that.

Will I buy it again? 

No. They're fine, but I found no special advantage over my regular choices (including Ode to the Classic Potato ChipOrganic Potato Chips Kettle Style, and Ridge Cut Potato Chips with Sea Salt). I expect, however, to encounter them again at Nina's house. She loved the flavor, color, and thickness, and quickly pronounced them a new favorite.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Fudgy Chocolate Quinoa Loaf & Cake Mix

This sat in my pantry for several months before I got around to turning it from a mix into a cake. Among other reasons, I had to buy a loaf pan first.

The directions call for 3/4 cup of oil and four eggs, which is hugely more than other mixes I've used before.

I used the maximum baking time recommended, and it still wasn't enough; the center of the cake had an almost liquid core. It needed probably another ten minutes.

The cake made from this mix is quite a bit denser than what I'm used to from other mixes. Maybe this is because of using quinoa instead of wheat flour? It's extremely moist, richly chocolaty.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I make cake probably only once or twice a year, and I prefer other mixes from the big-name national brands.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


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

Everything you need from Trader Joe's for a top-notch dinner party for less than $30

How much do Trader Joe's employees make?

The healthiest Trader Joe's snacks

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 6, 2019

Trader Joe's Blueberry Muffins

These are pretty good. Not as good as bakery muffins, but better than most mass-produced ones. Nothing surprising. I had one per morning for four days, and didn't detect any drop-off in freshness.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Trader Joe's Chocolate Peanut Butter Light Ice Cream

This is just so-so ice cream, not especially rich or creamy. Then there's the additional problem that peanut butter just isn't a good flavor to put in ice cream. This would be better as plain chocolate.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Lemon Basil Pasta Salad

I found this to be perfectly pleasant, though it didn't spark joy. The bow-tie pasta was perfectly done. I liked the lemon slice to be squeezed on for an extra, final burst of lemon flavor. The green stuff is spinach, which was on the wilty side. There's Asiago cheese, which looks plentiful but is so mild in flavor that it's hard to notice. Finally, there's a few ingredients that are so sparse that one wonders why they're there at all. I'm looking at you, peas and zucchini.

As you can see, in the salad's native state, everything is segregated. You have to dump it all out into a larger bowl and stir, lest you end up with a clump of pasta here and a wad of spinach there.

I did like it as a side dish, but it boiled down to just lemon-flavored pasta with small bits of cheese, dressing, and spinach--not an ensemble in which the components had equal roles.

Nina was thoroughly unimpressed.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, August 31, 2019


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

8 best Trader Joe's baked goods to hit the store this past season

9 decadent Trader Joe's desserts for under $6

Spending $50 for school lunch ingredients at Trader Joe's

21 Trader Joe's products that are dietitian-approved

The essential Trader Joe's items you need in your freezer

Trader Joe's superfans have visited 40 stores in 4 months

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, August 30, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Sparkling Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar--Cucumber & Mint

This is, obviously, the shelf-mate to the strawberry/basil version that Nina and I tried last week. We both liked this one better. It's cool and refreshing. I expected to like it less because cucumber isn't a favorite flavor. But it's mild and unobjectionable. The mint, too, is subdued, not shouting its presence. The vinegar component is even less pronounced than in the other variety.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I think it can be an occasional treat.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trader Joe's Chocolate Hummus

This is some weird-ass shit.

I have no idea what the intended use here is. At first, I thought that it could be used like regular hummus, and that the "chocolate" was maybe a modest infusion of unsweetened cocoa that didn't overpower the hummus but complemented it in some unexpectedly delightful way.

Nope. Dip a corn chip or tortilla chip into that stuff, pop it in your mouth, and you'll immediately know that you've made a mistake.

The texture is like canned cake frosting--stiff. It's not that sweet, though it's sweet enough that it falls squarely in the "dessert" category. The only thing I could think of to do with it was to use it as a fruit dip. So I bought some strawberries, and dipped them in the hummus. This actually worked. The combination was not bad.

A one-pound container of berries got me through about 2/3 of the hummus. I threw the rest away, because, though it was tolerable, I didn't enjoy the combination enough to get more strawberries and do it again, and I couldn't think of a single other way I might want to use the stuff.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, August 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Neapolitan Joe-Joe's Ice Cream

I had a peculiar reaction to this product.

I made myself an ice cream cone (using Trader Joe's perfect waffle cones). While eating it, I kept wishing the ice cream were different: more strawberry ice cream (they're stingy with it), and more fudge pieces (also scarce). But then I finished it, and had an intense craving for more. So I made a second ice cream cone, and devoured that. The next night I made a third, which emptied the carton, so when I had eaten that cone and again wanted a second, I couldn't indulge.

The peculiar reaction, then, is that I love it while wanting them to change it quite substantially. I cannot explain this.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I'm rather taken by it.

Saturday, August 24, 2019


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

10 best cleaning products at Trader Joe's

Shopping experience: WalMart versus Trader Joe's

Comparison test of 8 name-brand products and their Trader Joe's counterparts

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Sparkling Apple Cider Drinking Vinegar--Strawberry & Basil

I passed this by a couple of time because the very idea of "drinking vinegar" seemed like a big bowl of wrong. But I gathered my courage, bought it, and shared the bottle with Nina last night.

Upon unscrewing the cap, the distinctive smell of vinegar hit me immediately, and I was worried that drinking it would be more of the same. It wasn't--not at all. It's a peculiar but pleasantly surprising mismatch. It's mostly just like drinking ordinarily sparkling apple cider, though with more than the usual amount of vinegary sensation, more in the nose than on the tongue.

As for the strawberry and basil, I had to close my eyes with a swig of the cider in my mouth and go on a mental hunt for them. I found them that way, but I never would have noticed them if not for the words on the label.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But it's definitely worth having once.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Pita Chips with Sea Salt

These are unforgivably dull, lifeless, tasteless. The "touch" of salt is practically undetectable.

Nina's reaction was similar.

This product is a total fail, and after eating just a few, the rest of the bag is going back for a refund.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, August 19, 2019

Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Cookies & Cream Light Ice Cream

This product is part of an industry-wide trend toward "healthier" ice creams, with more protein, less fat, and fewer calories. See here for a Consumer Reports article on the subject.

This new Trader Joe's offering is just so-so. The flavors are on the dull/weak side. The texture is not especially creamy.

It was rock-hard straight out of my freezer. But it softened up enough for scooping after being left out on the counter for 10 minutes.

Will I buy it again? 

No--it's not good enough to bother with.

Saturday, August 17, 2019


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

10 of the best lunches at Trader Joe's for under $7

6 best Trader Joe's items from summer 2019

6 Trader Joe's items for the home for under $10

26 Trader Joe's employees name their favorite items

Whole Foods disappointing compared with Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's leads entire retail industry in customer satisfaction

19 real moms on what they always buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's employees sing and dance to stop a toddler's tantrum

7 reasons people are obsessed with Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, August 16, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic No Joke Ginger Juice Shot

This is some serious, wake-you-up, kick-your-butt, take-no-prisoners peppery juice. Between the ginger, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper, it will burn your throat and clear your sinuses. I'm not sure I'd call this a pleasant experience, but it's definitely interesting. It makes the potent Triple Ginger Brew look like Kool-Aid in comparison.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It was far more memorable than the relatively tame turmeric version, but not something I need in my life--especially for $1.99 per shot. But do try it once, then get the t-shirt bragging that you survived it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Verry Cherry Plums

I'm not sure if these are an actual hybrid of plums and cherries, or just plums that have been selectively cultivated for a cherry-like flavor. But however they were made, I think they're excellent. Now, the cherry thing is a bit oversold; it's subtle, not front and center. But it is definitely present.

Every single plum in this container was perfectly ripe, sweet, and fully flavorful--not a bad one in the bunch--which is rare for produce, especially (forgive me) at Trader Joe's.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, eagerly.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Carrots Of Many Colors--Dehydrated Rainbow Carrots Snack

These are slices of dried, multicolored carrots. They taste like (wait for it)...carrots, though somewhat sweeter than typical carrots, presumably due to the natural sugars being more concentrated after dehydration. They're fairly crunchy. I wasn't thrilled with eating them straight out of the bag, but they worked well for dipping in hummus.

When I went to have a second serving a week or so after the first, I discovered that I had not resealed the bag all the way. Humidity had gotten in and the remaining carrot slices had gone limp and chewy. This was not an improvement. In fact, it spoiled the pleasure of eating them enough that I threw away the remainder. My bad.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It was fun to try once, but not something I need to repeat.

Saturday, August 10, 2019


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

17 true tweets about Trader Joe's cashiers

15 best vegan items at Trader Joe's

What Trader Joe's crew shirts mean

7 products we never buy at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's employees share 3 things they wish customers would stop doing

Trader Joe's is not your synagogue. But what if?

3 groceries you should buy at Trader Joe's instead of Aldi

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, August 9, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Mighty Turmeric Juice Shot

Wow. $1.99 for two ounces of "juice"--which is actually mostly coconut water. Plus two pieces of plastic added to the landfill, at a time when Trader Joe's says it's committed to reducing the amount of plastic packaging it uses.

It's hard to describe this accurately, because there's so little of it that it was hard to analyze before it was gone. But my overwhelming impression was of the turmeric and black pepper, not the coconut water or lemon juice.

Will I buy it again? 

Absolutely not. This strikes me as a very un-TJ's-like product: Expensive, pointless, and wasteful.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Trader Joe's Pimento Cheese Dip

If kept refrigerated, the texture of this cheese dip is surprisingly firm and solid--not at all like the Queso Cheese Dip or the Pub Cheese. You'll need to use stout chips to scoop it up. Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers were up to the task; some more delicate restaurant-style tortilla chips were not, crumbling under the pressure.

I liked the flavor of the cheese. The pimentos added nothing but color, as far as I could discern.

Gripe: On the 7th day I had this home, I was preparing to finish it off as my evening snack, when I noticed areas of mold on the surface. It had been kept refrigerated the entire time, except for two or three roughly 30-minute periods when I was actually eating from the container. That seems unusually fast for a product like this to go moldy. Maybe it was just a fluke. But if it's a systemic production problem, that's going to be a limiting factor. I don't think I would consistent finish off a tub in six days by myself.

Will I buy it again? 

I certainly liked it enough to give it another try. But if mold is a recurring problem, then I would limit future purchases to the rare setting in which I'll have other people over who can share it and get through a container more quickly.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Trader Joe's Ketchup Flavored Spud Crunchies

These are just like the original Spud Crunchies, but with a coating of ketchup flavor--and yes, they really do taste like French fries dipped in ketchup, which is the proper way to eat them.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes. I like them even more than the original.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


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

14 summer drinks from Trader Joe's to beat the heat

18 gluten-free snacks from Trader Joe's your kids will love

15 meals from Trader Joe's that take 10 minutes or less

Ranking of all nut butters at Trader Joe's

25 Trader Joe's school lunch ideas

Trader Joe's "grocery ghosting"

5 groceries that are cheaper at Aldi than 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 with its Trader Joe's vanilla wafers.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Muffins

Not bad at all. In fact, they're almost more small-bakery-shop quality than grocery-store quality.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I like chocolate, of course, but I don't think chocolate chips are the best thing to feature in a muffin. Besides, muffins seem most appropriate as breakfast food, and I mostly don't eat breakfast.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Trader Joe's Tomato Sauce

An ordinary, humble item, to be sure, but important to keep around for recipes. I've been buying it lately to use with TJ's Taco Seasoning Mix, and it's perfect. Plus, organic, in case you care about that sort of thing.

Will I buy it again? 

Yep. Because I like the taco mix so much, this has become a permanent pantry item for me.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Trader Joe's French Crepe Wafer Cookies

These are like triangular pieces of waffle cones. They're crisp and tasty. Nina liked that they're not too sweet.

Negatives: (1) They're kind of one-note. (2) It takes a lot of packaging to keep them protected from breakage, and it feels sinful to create so much trash for a few thin cookies. (3) Imperfect resealing of leftovers in humid weather will quickly cause them to absorb moisture and become leathery instead of crispy.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, July 27, 2019


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

Top ten items from Trader Joe's

All about the Trader Joe's sign artists

Insider view of produce at Trader Joe's

Woman spirals into vortex of self-doubt after Trader Joe's cashier does not compliment her on selected items

Trader Joe's produce section will be getting greener

Are Trader Joe's cashiers required to comment on your purchase?

12 low-carb snacks from Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's announces packaging improvements

Trader Joe's new items for July

Trader Joe's YouTube channel is amazing and weird

The 10 best cheeses 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 cute dog with its Trader Joe's yogurt.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Ube Purple Yam Flavored Ice Cream

I had never heard of ube until pictures of this new flavor of TJ's ice cream started showing up on Twitter. Apparently ube is a big thing in the Philippines.

The ice cream is very pretty. From its color, you'd expect it to be a dark-cherry flavor, or maybe blackberry. Nope. It weirdly tastes familiar, but not close enough to anything that I can name a specific flavor relative for comparison. Trader Joe's introduction to the product mentions similarity to coconut, vanilla, and pistachio. I don't think any of those is quite right--but neither is anything else. Comparisons fail me. I guess you'll just have to try it for yourself.

I liked it. So did Nina, though she was as stymied as I was in coming up with a specific point of reference.

Will I buy it again? 

Well, TJ's describes it as a "limited-edition" item, and I hear that it's already gone, so there's not really a decision to make here. If they bring it back in a year or so, yes, I'd buy another pint for the novelty value, even though it's not among my favorites.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Trader Joe's Ruby Cacao Wafers

I bought these back in February; they seemed to be part of the pink-food rush of Valentine's Day. I assume they're long gone from the TJ's shelves by now, though I haven't checked, but maybe they'll be brought back next year.

I ate some right away, but didn't write about them because I couldn't figure out what to say. I still don't know. They're tiny discs of pink chocolate--apparently their natural color, as no natural or artificial coloring agents are listed among the ingredients. (See here and here.)

They don't taste much like either dark or milk chocolate. They remind me of white chocolate, but with an added fruitiness.

Will I buy it again? 

No. I have no idea what to do with them other than just eat them straight from the bag, and they're not very appealing that way. ,