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Friday, July 3, 2020

Trader Joe's Lemon Chess Pie


Never heard of chess pie before. Thought maybe it was like a Rosca de Reyes but with plastic chess pieces baked into it instead of a plastic baby Jesus. Nope. Although, you gotta admit that would be fun. You could play a game with just the chess pieces you found in your slice of pie, as a way to introduce an element of chance into the game. But then again, meh. I'm sure the pawns would be a choking hazard. Darn you, chess pie.

So I Googled it. Apparently, it's Southern, and it means "just pie" but with a deep Southern accent. Fair enough. If that's the case, though, then shouldn't it be "chess pah"?


This version of chess pie is super tangy and sweet. It's a delicious, mouth-puckering lemon flavor. It immediately reminded both Sonia and I of lemon bars. We both agree it's a uniquely summery flavor, but we can't really put our finger on why we feel that way. I guess it's still lemon harvest season...?

The body of the pie is a fairly dense lemon custard. It's very smooth and somewhat thick. The crust is dry and flaky, maybe mildly buttery. The crust was a little too broad around the edge of the pie. There's like a half inch where there's nothing but crust and no lemon. I didn't mind eating the crust plain, but then again, I was pretty hungry. I could see some people discarding the excess crust since it's not particularly interesting by itself. How wasteful.


The lemon factor is pretty intense. That is, the coefficient of lemonosity is necessarily greater than the determinant value of the neutrality of the crustal elements when multiplied by pi. Ahem—I misspoke. I meant "when multiplied by pie." Make sense? Get it? Got it? Good.

$7.99 for six servings. I think you can definitely get at least six servings out of this one. It's pretty rich, so a medium-size pie piece is pretty satisfying. Double fours here in honor of 4th of July Weekend.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels

Ah, the good old rule of three. If you don't know it, you know it. Anything grouped as three tends to be more memorable and make more impact in some way, shape or form, very generally speaking. Think about it....

Stop, drop and roll.

Three point shots.

Three point sermons.

Three blind mice, and the Three Little Pigs.

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Harry, Hermione and Ron.

Earth, Wind and Fire.

"A cord of three strands is not easily broken."

The Chicago Bulls and their "three-peats."

And so on. These were just off the top of my head. I could likely go on all day, in which case I'd need a snack, and maybe that could be a threesome as well...like Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Pretzels.

Chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels. There you go. Another classic. And true to classic form, there isn't much reinvention here. Sometimes the old standby just works. And when TJ's doesn't lean on one of their traits heavily (innovation), there's nothing wrong with relying on their other two (quality and value), which this product does and does very well.

Admittedly it's been a while since I've had them - I had the pic and my general thoughts stashed away for a "break glass in case of emergency" review if we somehow didn't make it to a TJ's recently in these odd times - but I think I can manage to be fair. As stated, nothing earthshattering here. It's simply creamy milk chocolate, better than the standard Hershey stuff, coating over a crispy pretzel stuffed with kinda stiff, dry peanut butter as is the usual. The whole thing is kinda like a Turducken, another three-inspired classic. It's tough to eat more than a few at a time, simply because they're filling and fairly rich, but tasty enough that once that effect wears off a bit it's tough to resist going back for a couple more.

The only thing I'd change, and this is regardless of brand, is the peanut butter itself. I wish it could be soft and creamy instead of the slightly epoxy-like nut matter that invariably just dries out my throat. That's likely tough to pull off in this kinda snack, and understandably so...but I can still wish it were a possibility.

For the $3.99 they cost, I'd love to buy these pretzels again and again and again but know I likely shouldn't. Invariably, I stash the bag away and eat them all within (you guessed it) three days. Deeelish. Let's buck the three convention and hit them with some double fours.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut butter Snacks: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 29, 2020

Trader Joe's Creamy Cauliflower JalapeƱo Dip


The heat of the summer is definitely not a favorite time of the year for Sonia and me. Don't get me wrong, I like wearing shorts and t-shirts rather than 18 layers of flannel and heavy outer garments, and taking a dip at the local pool is always fun—although, I don't even know if public pools are open this year. Are we swimming with masks on now? Does snorkel gear count as a mask? Darn you, 2020.

Eating ice cream and popsicles makes more practical sense when the weather's warm, so there's that. Also, cold, dairy-based dips and crisp veggies are good snacks for these higher temps. And here's a fun fact: spicy foods like jalapeno are helpful when it comes to staying cool and beating the summer heat. Apparently the spice makes you sweat without moving around a lot, and the moisture helps keep your body temperature low. Just think about it: most cultures that consume a lot of hot, spicy foods are found in warmer climates. See: Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food. Yum. Makes me sweaty just thinking about it. But that's kinda gross, so never mind.


Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—this dip isn't jalapeno-ey enough to make me sweat. It just flat out needs more spice if they're going to include "jalapeno" in the title of this product. There's just enough to provide a vague background warmth after consuming numerous bites of the condiment. There's very little kick up front.

The dip is quite creamy, however, and the cauliflower actually adds to said creaminess rather than detracting from it. It also lends an earthy, rich flavor that dairy alone might lack. Texture-wise, the dairy elements are very smooth, and the cauliflower must be pureed into oblivion, because there's hardly anything cauliflower-esque about the texture. There's just a hint of gritty coarseness.


All in all, it's not a far cry from any other cream cheese-based dip I've ever had. As much as the cauliflower flavor enhances this dip, I still think it could have worked with more cauliflower and less dairy flavor. If I were re-formulating version 2.0, I'd magnify the jalapeno presence nearly tenfold. There might be microscopic little bits of jalapeno in this version. I'd add substantial jalapeno pieces. Maybe not big slices like you'd find on a stack of nachos, but quarters of slices, perhaps.

Don't think this will be a repeat purchase. It's a neat idea, but it's just not memorable or flavorful enough, and there are way too many amazing dips already available at Trader Joe's. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three stars from yours truly.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.