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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, commoners, I present to you King Buttercup. There he is, holding the new(ish) Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups. And while he may appear to be a common stuffed pug, perhaps you will find him not so common after all. He is, of course, named after the colors of a traditional peanut butter cup, which are colors he is adorned with so well. King Buttercup's domain is my basement desk, where he keeps me company all day long at the request of my five year old, who not only brought him from the Land of Target but bequeathed him his new name as well. Because, of course, as we all do, he loves good ol' buttercups anyways.

Who doesn't?

There's a few of you oddballs out there who somehow don't like chocolate and peanut butter together. I don't understand that at all. But maybe you need a small, high quality twist on the default American classic, hence King Buttercup sharing this TJ's treat with you today.

Oh. My. Goodness. These cups are so right up my alley. There's almost nothing not to like here. What really gets me is the overall quality of both the chocolate and the almond butter, and how well they fuse together.

By now, if you've had any TJ's dark chocolate covered products, you're familiar with the stuff - it's oh so good, isn't it? Not too sweet, not too milky, but dark and rich without being bland or bitter. I could go for darker, personally, but this is a "dark chocolate for the masses" I suppose, and it works.

The almond butter is pretty great, too. It's a touch salty and earthy with a slight bit of graininess that seems inherent to all almond butters.I'd likely eat it straight out of a jar if it were a standalone product, which is not something that I'd say about Reese peanut butter. That stuff only tastes good because of the chocolate and isn't an actually good solo product, in my opinion...but the TJ's nut butter here is.

And it melds so well with the dark chocolate. Here the two are, in perfect symbiiotic relationship with each other. Whales and barnacles, yin and yang, Siegfried and Roy...and dark chocolate and almond butter, here in a teeny tiny little cup.

Wait..."teeny tiny little cup?" Alas, there's the one issue. I should have thought to wonder down to the corner store to buy  some Reeses for comparision, but these guys seem small. I'd offer a wagering, off the top of my head guess, of being no more than 80% as big as a Reese. What's that mean? There's less chocolate and almond butter to enjoy! I want more! Even if that comes with a slightly higher price point! Some things are just worth it.

That's the only complaint. Seriously, go buy some and put 'em in your fridge or freezer. You'll thank me. If only they were a smidge bigger...oh well. As is, they are a treat fit for a king. Double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almond butter Cups: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, August 10, 2020

Trader Joe's Organic 100% Pomegranate Juice

Eating a pomegranate is such a unique experience. The Punica granatum's insides don't resemble any other common fruit. The husk part is bejeweled with dozens of tiny red seeds. Popping the little red morsels out with a spoon can be tedious, but the crunch and the unique sweet-tart berry-esque flavor make it so worth it.

I'm not even sure how you'd juice a pomegranate. The seeds are such a small portion of the entire fruit, and even those are mostly a starchy white material coated with something slick and juicy. They must just crush all the seeds and then strain out the starchy pulp..? That's just a guess. Considering how tiresome it is to eat pomegranate, it must be even more laborious to juice one.

Fortunately, we don't have to juice the fruit ourselves. All we have to do is drink it. But even that might not be easy for some.

Upon first opening the bottle, there was a whiff of something nearly beet-ish. I'm not a fan of plain beet juice, so it was a little off-putting. I poured a glass each for Sonia and me. 

The taste of the beverage is something more in the direction of cranberry, at least at first. It's sweet and sour—tart enough to make you pucker. Up front, the flavor seems pleasant enough to me, but just a moment later, the finish hits you with a wave of dry bitterness that's hard to describe and not particularly palatable to me or the wifey. It's a biting, caustic essence that can potentially mar any element of enjoyment that may have occurred just a second or two prior.

In my opinion, the astringent aftertaste doesn't completely ruin the experience. But if you ask Sonia, she'll say otherwise. She noped out after just a few sips.

I've managed to consume at least half the bottle on this hot August Sunday afternoon. Compared to other more prevalent fruit juices, it's not particularly refreshing or chuggable. Both Sonia and I find it significantly less drinkable than POM Wonderful. I'm thinking of it as a unique non-alcoholic red wine meant to be served chilled—a select strain from the vineyard that I just don't quite "get" yet. I keep drinking it thinking it'll grow on me. It wouldn't be the first beverage that was unappealing to me initially but slowly became a staple in my fridge over time.

As it stands now, I think I'll go with three stars. After all, it's organic and full of antioxidants. I'm choosing to see it as an adventure, and an experience—much like the eating of pomegranate seeds. Sonia gives it two stars, stating that the aftertaste just ruins it for her.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Trader Joe's Everything but the Gluten Crackers


"Crackers" really isn't the first word that would come to mind upon sampling one of the new Trader Joe's Everything but the Gluten Crackers. There's nothing about it that conjures up the classic "cracker" prototype in my head, which admittedly looks pretty much like a round Ritz. I'm sorry, it's just the way I was raised.

My lovely bride agrees, though, so I can't be too far off. But she fully embraces the second descriptive title, "Norwegian crispbread." Ugh. "Crispbread." She says that's a different kinda deal than a cracker, which I can get aboard with, but I just don't like how it sounds. Too fancy schmancy.

Yet I have no other ideas what to call these thumbsized tombstone shaped thingies. "People suet" sounds wrong too, although it's about the closest with all those seeds. So I guess crackers it is. I digress.


Dear goodness, there's a bunch of seeds, namely sunflower and sesame. If you're familiar with sesame sticks as a snack, these guys are pretty similar tasting, except maybe crunchier. Some oatflake bits, quinoa flour and corn flour kinda hold it all together and add an extra crumbly crunch. Upfront the taste is all earthy seeds, all the time, especially the sesame, but what lingers is the garlic. It's not a lot of garlic - nothing too roasty and boasty - but it's kinda that sneaky type that develops only after a couple chews but then just stays...and stays...and stays. Not in an unpleasant way, mind you, but it's absolutely there.

All that being said, pretty much everyone in the family loves these TJ's gluten free snackies. We've been chewing them down just straight, but man, they'd be awesome with a variety of dips or toppers. Sharp cheddar? Hummus? Cream cheese? Salsa? A little nut butter of some type? Yes, to all of those. Hmm, maybe they are more crackery than I give them credit for. And for $2.99 for the package, they've already been repeat purchases here...and we're not gluten sensitive folks in the least. Double fours!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Everything but the Gluten Crackers: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons