Saturday, September 29, 2018


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

20 fall desserts to try from Trader Joe's

10 easy Trader Joe's lunch ideas for teachers

15 new products to try at Trader Joe's this October

Best tweets of the week:

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

(Thanks to Kathryn Grace on Facebook for permission to use these.)

Friday, September 28, 2018

Trader Joe's Seltzer Water Flavored With Blood Orange And Orange Juice

Neither Nina nor I liked this on first tasting. But I had two cans left, so I drank them a few days apart. I ended up liking it a bit more than my original impression--but not enough to want any more of it. I have to work hard to identify specifically blood orange, rather than plain orange, but I do think it's in there. Overall, though, I think it's just too carbonated and not flavorful enough.

Will I buy it again? 


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Trader Joe's Heirloom Popcorn With Avocado Oil & Pink Salt

The copy on the back of this bag tries to make a virtue out of the use of a special, ancient variety of corn that grows in small kernels, on small ears and stalks. Fine. I like big, fluffy popcorn kernels like everybody else does, but I'm willing to keep an open mind for something different. If these small kernels are tasty, precious little nuggets, bring it on!

But they're not. They don't taste any better than standard popcorn. They're just little.

The real dealbreaker, though, is that a huge fraction of them are under-popped--not quite the "old maids" that didn't pop at all, but still with the hard core left intact. I hate that. Trader Joe's once tried to sell a popcorn that was intentionally just "partially popped" for those who like that (is it still available? I haven't noticed it lately); I don't think that was the goal here, as nothing on the bag says that that's what they're going for. Either it's a flaw of the corn variety they picked, or I just got a bad batch. Either way, I didn't like it.

I also didn't find anything especially admirable about either the oil or the salt, despite how they're highlighted in the promotional copy.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Trader Joe's Pretzel Slims

I didn't really hold out much hope for these being good. I was wrong. In fact, they're excellent. Full of pretzel flavor, delightfully crunchy, eminently snackable, even addictive. They could use just a little more salt, but that's my only complaint.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes indeed. I don't think this product is quite Top Ten material, but it's definitely going to take a place in my regular rotation of salty snacks.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Proyo Low Fat Ice Cream--Chocolate Chip Cookie Batter

I first encountered the Halo Top brand of ice cream in July while in Utah visiting family, which seems to be the thing that set off a trend for protein-enriched ice cream. And now Trader Joe's is selling this competitor.

According to this story, this is a limited-time distribution. The manufacturer is rebranding to a different name (good call; Proyo is stupid, and sounds like it's yogurt rather than ice cream), and TJ's snapped up their remaining stock of the old name. However, TJ's has a history of doing trial balloons of other-branded products, then, if they're successful, bringing them back labeled with the Trader Joe's name. So if in a year or so there's suddenly a Trader Joe's high-protein ice cream line, that will be what happened.

I didn't notice anything weird about the Halo Top ice cream. But this Proyo had a definite off note, and I'm pretty sure it was from the added protein, which comes in the form of whey. I finished it all, but I didn't love it.

There's also this truth: Nobody buys or eats ice cream as a source of protein. I suppose the Mars company could make vitamin-infused M&Ms, but why?

Will I buy it again? 

No whey, Josรฉ.

Saturday, September 22, 2018


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

Trader Joe's fall foods have arrived

How Two Buck Chuck made wine less douchey

5 items to buy at Trader Joe's this fall

Trader Joe's favorites

6 new Trader Joe's items for September

Trader Joe's products I've tried

Weight Watchers Trader Joe's shopping list

10 healthiest fall items to buy at Trader Joe's

Autumn at Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

And finally, here's this week's cute (but naughty) cats in a Trader Joe's grocery bag with a box of Joe's O's.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Point Reyes Toma Cheese

This is the current "spotlight" cheese at my local Trader Joe's. I think these are usually coordinated nationally, not store by store, so I assume it will be available everywhere--but only briefly.

I had never heard of Toma cheese before. I found it very pleasant--mild but flavorful, buttery, a little grassy. It slices easily and goes nicely with crackers (though I gather from the linked article that that's not its preferred usage).

Will I buy it again? 

I would, if it were going to be available--but I think it won't be.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Trader Joe's Apple Cider Scent Foaming Hand Soap

For a large number of Trader Joe's hand soaps, I've written basically the same thing: It's nice enough, but I don't really want or need my soap to smell like X, so I'll stick to my good ol' unscented Softsoap dispenser. I've always finished using the container anyway, since I had already paid for it and wouldn't want it to go to waste.

Not so this time. This stuff is awful. I've never known hand soap of any brand to be this potently smelly. Diluted, and in isolation or in some other context, it might be a pleasant aroma. And it is reminiscent of apple cider, as the name implies. But it's about 10 times too intense. Immediately after using it, the residue left on my hands is overpowering, gaggarific. Even hours later, I can still catch a whiff of it and wonder where that smell is coming from, before I remember.

Will I buy it again? 

No. It's the first hand soap I've bought from Trader Joe's that's going back for a refund. I can't stand to keep using it.


Immediately after I did my usual Twitter post with a link to this review, I scrolled down a bit and found this tweet, so, as always, YMMV:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trader Joe's Chocolate Salted Caramel Mug Mix

This is a weird product. At first I thought it was a new hot chocolate; that's what "chocolate...mug mix" implies to me. But then I noticed the strange, semi-solid, gloppy stuff in the picture, and it didn't compute. Then I saw the smaller print: "cake." WTF?

Yes, this mix creates a little chocolate cake in a mug. You put the powder in the mug, add a little water, stir, and microwave. Voila--cake. Or at least that's the idea.

On my first attempt, I followed the directions precisely, with two 20-second zaps. The "cake" was still partially liquid. So the second time, I increased to two 25-second bursts. That seemed to fix the problem.

However, the result is still very strange. It's sort of cake-like. But spooning cake out of a mug sets off conflicting brain signals. This isn't what's supposed to be in a mug, and this isn't how one is supposed to eat cake.

Beyond the problem of expectations being dashed is the problem that it's just not particularly good cake. That shouldn't be surprising. What do you expect from an add-water-and-microwave concoction?

You might also want to know that the mix contains large crystals of salt that do not dissolve. The first time I crunched one of these without knowing it was there, I thought I had broken a tooth.

Will I buy it again? 


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Trader Joe's Neapolitan Joe-Joe's

One chocolate wafer, one vanilla wafer, and strawberry filling. Sounds like a great idea. But the execution is lousy. The strawberry flavor is so strong, and the chocolate and vanilla so wimpy, that strawberry is basically all I taste.

Will I buy it again? 


Monday, September 17, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Whole Green Beans

They're green beans. They're frozen. They're adequate, nothing more. They'll do in a pinch if you don't have fresh ones.

Will I buy it again? 

Probably not. I don't eat green beans often, so when I do, I'd rather get fresh ones.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


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

12 frozen meals at Trader Joe's for under $5

11 beauty products from Trader Joe's that people swear by

I took a photo of every Trader Joe's pumpkin item I could find

15 Trader Joe's products even picky eaters will like

Trader Joe's favorites

Katy Perry loves Trader Joe's

Best tweets of the week:

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Mac & Cheese

This new product (see company's introduction to it here) has a cheese blend identical to the ever-popular "Joe's Diner" version. To my surprise, I liked it nearly as much. There is a bit of rice-flour taste imparted by the rice-based pasta, but it wasn't unpleasant. Of course, pasta without gluten will never have the nice texture of the real thing, but this came pretty darn close--just slightly tough.

Will I buy it again? 

No. But if I had good reason to avoid gluten, I would consider this heaven-sent. I haven't tried all the gluten-free mac-and-cheese products the nation's manufacturers have concocted since GF became such a big market, but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if this turned out to be the very best of the bunch.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Trader Joe's Chipotle Vegetable Quesadillas

This is a new product from Trader Joe's; see their introduction to it here.

I found this quite tasty. I liked the combination of cheese, corn, and beans. The tortilla portion was a little strange--surprisingly thick, more like a pita bread than a tortilla. I guess I didn't mind that, but it was unexpected.

You're given three choices for preparation. I chose pan-frying. Apparently I had the burner up too high, because I ended up lightly scorching them. I guess my stove's idea of "medium heat" doesn't match that of the Trader Joe's test-kitchen people.

Nina was definitely less pleased than I was. She was a definite "meh" on these.

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, though I think it will be just an occasional break from my routine, rather than a new favorite.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Trader Joe's TJ's Organic Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce

When I reviewed the Carolina Gold Barbecue Sauce, I wrote, "It's straight down the middle in terms of overall flavor, sweetness, heat, etc. It's just what I would expect from a grocery-store BBQ sauce, really." 

I wish to retract that, and instead apply it to this one. I blame the misattribution on too many years having elapsed since I had purchased and used barbecue sauces. My memory was warped. 

Since writing that, I've found something I like, and now eat frequently, that cries out for good barbecue sauce: Morningstar Farms fake pulled pork. I've been using the Carolina Gold almost exclusively, despite having originally written that I wasn't sure whether it would become a staple. 

Now I have tried the Carolina Gold and this new one side by side--literally on the two halves of the same plate of food--eight times. It has become clear to me how mistaken I was in my sense memory to see the Gold as the standard product. Compared to this, the Gold is quite a bit sweeter, tangier, and spicier. This one is the down-the-middle, traditional BBQ sauce--less sweet and spicy than the Gold, but with much more smokiness. It's also quite a bit thicker; it comes out more in globs, whereas the Gold is fairly thin and pours easily. 

Which one do I like better? I spent a good portion of eight meals pondering that, and couldn't come to a definitive answer. I think if you put a gun to my head and made me pick one of them to use for the rest of my life, it would be this one. But I found that I really, really liked having both of them on my plate of food, side by side, and switching between them several times in the course of one meal. I had originally done that just for comparison-testing purposes, but I think I'm going to keep doing it, even though it seems like a bit of an odd practice. The contrast just works really well for me. 

I guess you could say I discovered co-champions. 

Will I buy it again? 

Yes, definitely. I'm going to include both this and the Gold in my list of staples, because I anticipate keeping both of them on hand permanently. 

Saturday, September 8, 2018


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

Twitterverse is not happy with news reports shaming actor Geoffrey Owens for working at TJ's

Best items to get at Trader Joe's

The best vegan finds during Trader Joe's pumpkin season

9 Trader Joe's items to try before summer is over

Geoffrey Owens goes on "Good Morning America" to respond to furor over working at Trader Joe's

22 of the best fall foods 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, September 7, 2018

Trader Joe's 8 Mini Raspberry Pastries

I liked these. The dough part was flavorful and flaky. The filling was a delightful burst of raspberriness.

However. (1) A couple of them came out of the oven with some unpleasant sogginess to them. (2) They leave behind parts of themselves on whatever surface they're baked on. I was glad I followed the package directions to line the cookie sheet with foil, so I could just throw it away rather than scrape and scrub the residue off. (3) Four of the eight were glommed together in a nasty iceball in the bag, and it was a pain to break them apart before heating. (4) It costs a lot for not very much dessert. They're tiny things.

Will I buy it again? 


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Apple Juice

This apple juice is so boring it's sad. It's just lifeless. Drinking it is a reminder of how wonderful the Honey Crisp Apple Cider is. Every fall I stock up on the latter to last me through the rest of the year when it isn't available, but I had run out, so purchased this one instead. Such a disappointment.

Three years ago, I bought TJ's MacIntosh Apple Juice, and contemplated doing a comparison test with this one. I never did, because the discovery of the cider made me want to never buy anything else. Now I'll never complete the test because I don't want this uninteresting juice in my life.

Will I buy it again? 

No. If I can't have the cider, my next choice would be the Flash Pasteurized. I'd pick something other than apple juice before having this again.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chunk Cantuccini Mini Italian Biscotti Cookies

I found these to be excessively hard and dry, with a flavor rather like mixing together unbaked flour and sugar. I ate two, to be sure the first one wasn't a fluke, and the second was just as bad. Nina had one, and declared that to be enough. She tried dunking it in some nice tea, and even that didn't save it.

The rest of the bag is going back to the store for a refund. Serious fail of a product.

Will I buy it again? 


Saturday, September 1, 2018


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

The best Trader Joe's skillet meals

The healthiest foods at Trader Joe's

Gluten-free shopping at Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's could be Amazon's next victim

8 foods you didn't know you could buy at Trader Joe's

The tastiest, healthiest meals in Trader Joe's freezer section

Best tweets of the week:

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