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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

I've heard it said and quoted so many times...a quick Google search says its Theodore Roosevelt who coined the phrase. I'm pretty sure I've heard it was someone else...but then that's like comparing sources, and well, that's contradictory to the purpose, is it not? No matter who spoke it, it's no less true.

I say this because - Sheetz Trash Can Cookies. You ever one? If you haven't, and live near a Sheetz, or ever happen to be traveling by a Sheetz on an journey, go get one. Preferably immediately. If you have, i hope you know what I'm talking about - amazing cookies. Soft mealy, with a plethora of ingredients ranging for chocolate chips and Reese Pieces to popcorn and pretzels. Awesome cookies, one of our faves for road trips.

Was really hoping for a similar vibe with Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers. The name carries the same implication, a little of this, a little that, and then there's that other stuff. Kitchen sink, as in, "everything but the..." Gotta be a lot of stuff, right?

Can't say they fully delivered. I like the premise, more or less, but the name sets up a little bit for failure. These dunkers are basically oatmeal cookies trying to pose themselves as being a bit more fancy then they actually are. I got nothing against pecans, or sunflower seeds, or chocolate chunks, because they can all make a fine cookie, but mixed all together with some rolled oats, there's not much that stands out or is terribly descriptive.

At least there's no...oh wait, yes there is. Not sure how they snuck in. But there's raisins in here too. So it's a showboating oatmeal raisin cookie. Listen: Nobody I know likes oatmeal raisin cookies. I only eat them when I didn't look close and thought they were chocolate chip, and am then immediately disappointed. Everyone I know thinks the same way, and so must a lot of y'all, because why then aren't raisins mentioned mentioned on the front of the package, hmm? It's a conspiracy 

Of course, as a cookie made for dunking in coffee, the dippy dunkers are pretty rigid when dry but soften in a crumbly way significantly once met with coffee. I personally did not have a chance to sample hem this way, but Sandy said so, so it must be true.

Not awful, not terrific. Could use a lot more pizzazz in my humble opinion. I'll munch on them but not seek them out. Too many other great cookies out there...these dunkers just don't really compare.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Kitchen Sink Dunkers: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 19, 2017

Trader Joe's Ranch Seasoned Crispy Chickpeas

Chickpeas. Garbanzo beans. Doesn't matter what you call them. In my opinion, they're nutritious and delicious. I'm a big fan and always have been.

In fact, I put my love of chickpeas on display in a salad dressing review last year. I called my salad the "garbanzaganza." Interestingly, Trader Joe's calls this product "a garbanzo bonanza." I suppose you can and should make the distinction that my fictitious word is a mashup of "garbanzo" and "extravaganza," while TJ's uniquely employed the use of the word "bonanza" for this chickpea product.
Therefore, this product shall henceforth be known as the "garbanzonanza" because I'm big into fictitious words, contractions, portmanteaus, and all manner of linguistic tomfoolery.

Then I began to muse about the squirrel on the packaging. Wasn't aware squirrels were into garbanzos—or any beans for that matter. They're more into seeds and nuts. And that's why I think he's there: because this product has a distinctly nutty flavor. Plus, these chickpeas are indeed crispy like nuts, by virtue of them being fried and dried. Texture-wise, they're very similar to wasabi peas.

Flavor-wise, in addition to the aforementioned nuttiness, they're salty, savory, and do taste vaguely like normal garbanzo beans. 

They're "ranch seasoned," but honestly, they're not exactly bursting with ranch taste in my opinion. It's detectable, but it plays second fiddle to the natural taste of the beans, along with the other seasonings like onion and tomato powders.

$2.99 a bag, a good bit of fat and sodium, but also rich with fiber. Sonia will go with four and a half stars, stating, "I really like them a lot." Me too. Four stars here. Very unique.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Trader Joe's Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce with a Hint of Salted Bourbon

"But they were on sale!!"


Normally, I like those words just fine. But they were a source of frustration when Sandy was trying to explain to me why she bought St Louis style ribs (read: with bones) as opposed to our usual boneless "ribs" she gets for me to grill.

I can grill wannabe porkchops easily enough. But ones with bones? That requires some skills and patience I don't have - hours of slow, indirect heat? Not when the fam is over expecting dinner any minute, and I just then realized what I was dealing with.

Solution: after charring and burning the outside of ribs while still looking raw in the middle, give up, throw on an extra pack of hot dogs, move ribs to top rack when done, reheat/cook more following night, and rely on Trader Joe's Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce to salvage dinner. Oh, and with "a hint of salted bourbon." Good for the sauce, maybe, and good for me, definitely.

So, how'd it work?


Seems like it might be a classic case of trying to do too much. I mean, in theory, this sauce sounds fantastic. And in many ways, it's not bad at all, and kinda unique. But it's just so uneven overall. First hit of the sauce smacks sweet mango flavor full on, almost like candy. It's almost too cloyingly sugary, like a dessert type treat almost. Then, that sensation qiickly dissipates and dissolves before a big ol' spice wallop of smoky chipotle hits. Eating straight on (say, if dipped into by a fry or something) the heat seems more fierce, but it's weakened a little by being brushed onto meat and the like.

Both sides of that equation are palatable enough (I prefer the heat over the sweet myself) but there's nothing really bridging those two extremes. Nothing really tying them together. I could see the "hint of salted bourbon" being intended for that, but if it's there, it's not noticeable enough.

It's not a terrible sauce by any stretch, but it's not good/versatile/tasty enough to be used as an all-the-time barbecue condiment either. It'll take Sandy and me some effort and time to finish up the bottle we have - no one else here will touch it, for sure. I'm too ambivalent about it to give it any more than a 2.5, whereas Sandy enjoys it a bit more, so it'll go a little higher for her. Not gonna be ribbing her for that.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Chipotle BBQ Sauce with a Hint of Salted Bourbon: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons