Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Trader Joe-San's Green Beans

There are some things that, when it comes down to it, I really don't quite get. For example:

- Justin Bieber's hair cut
- Why some comment trollers think it's a good use of time to argue about politics on every news article. I don't understand what the Westminster Dog Show has to do with what's going on in the Middle East. At the end of the day, you've accomplished what, exactly?
- The fact that Sandy grew up right outside of Pittsburgh and she doesn't care about the Steelers or Penguins one iota, I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and was raised (and still am) a die-hard Phillies fan, yet we're so excited for the Pirates' home opener we both took the day off from work to go.
- Why every Jack Johnson song sounds the same but is yet so good,
- Any math problem more complicated than "3x + 1 = 7."

And I guess I don't get these Trader Joe-San Green Beans either.

Don't make the mistake of thinking these are some sort of fresh vegetable product. The fact they're in the snack aisle should be a pretty good clue that they aren't. They certainly resemble green beans in appearance (except they're lightly dusted with some indiscernible junk), and they taste a fair amount like a green bean (again, except for whatever they coat these guys with, it's not salt). But the end product just isn't so good. Take a good hearty crunch to taste for yourself.

I'm not too texture-adverse when it comes to most foods, but these kinda weird me out. The only kind of parallel I can think of is, imagine sitting down, getting to ready to eat something that resembles a delectable-looking ribeye, only when you take a bite it tastes like steak but is made of Jello. They're that disorienting for me. Green beans are supposed to be firm yet a little soft, a little juicy, fleshy, and just good. They certainly aren't supposed to mummified, crispy shells of themselves like these are. To get them this way, apparently they get fried up in canola oil ... I don't really get how it works. Some of them seem to be fried up a little differently than others, so when you bite down, they can seem a little sandy or quartzy on the inside, which is not good at all. Others seem to not be fried as much, so the insides seem lighter and crisper, which make them semi-passable. But overall, they're inconsistent and discombobulating to my palate, and really don't seem to be a viable snack option on a regular basis to me.

Sandy doesn't like them all that much either, though the texture thing doesn't seem to bother her as much, which if you know her, that's an amazing statement to make. It's more the taste that gets to her - "I've had better," she said. "I don't know how to say it, except the other ones had more flavor." I'm presuming that means some saltiness to them, which these pretty much lack. I really can't figure out what the semi-greasy semi-dusty coating they put is supposed to add to the flavor. Anyways, Sandy gives them a two, and she has a little more faith in them than I do, because I can't justify giving them more than a one. I'd be surprised if we pick them up again.

Bottom line: 3 out of 10


  1. Not so sure I would have picked these up anyway given the weird concept, but glad you guys tried them first. They sound nasty.

  2. Monica, they're certainly something that could have gone either way pretty easily. I picked up something else this week that I could say the same about ... we'll just have to see!

  3. I have always avoided these green beans, but TJ's has "soy crisps" (I think that is what they are called) that also look like green beans but are absolutely delicious.

  4. Stephanie, The snap pea crisps? I think they lace those with crack to make you keep eating them! Unfortunately they are not a TJs product :( so no review

  5. Im one of those "raised outside pittsburgh and couldnt care less about their sports teams" freaks too. And PA dutch roots too. Just sayin'

  6. Oh I can understand not following the local sports teams, but given the choice out here, the Pirates? Really? 18 straight losing seasons going on 37. Meanwhile, just in the past few years the Steelers have won the Super Bowl twice, been there a third time, and the Penguins have the league's best player and a Stanley Cup to boot. For me, I'm just enough of a fan of baseball to go whenever there's a good excuse to, I guess.

    By the way, honeybee, I took a look through your blog - some mighty tasty looking stuff in there! We might have to try some of those recipes out!

  7. I tried those before and was also disappointed... I found them to be very sweet, not at all what I was expecting!

  8. Hmm, in retrospect, I guess you could call them a little sweet ... yeah, I didn't know what to expect when we got 'em, but I was definitely hoping for better.

  9. I became addicted to these...things...when a friend had them out for her toddler. The kiddo loved 'em and I can go through a bag at a sitting, though I find inconsistancy in the bag - one bean will be perfect and the next will just be gross. I guess I just like the perfect ones enough to put up with the weird ones.

  10. I bought these one time and really wasn't crazy about them either!

  11. I received a 4 oz bag of these TJ-San Green Beans noted as being "lightly salted crunchy green beans" from a local Food Pantry, as I am currently unemployed. I agree with the inconsistency within the bag, yet personally I enjoyed them (but maybe because they were FREE)I actually came online to find out how much they retail for to see IF they were worth trying one more time.

  12. i love them. Great for the toddler!

  13. I don't know how they produce these, it's almost like a combination of freeze dried and fried. At first it seems like it can be addicting, but after eating a handful it leaves an oily weird aftertaste in your mouth. I only bought it once.

    They also sell a similar product (tastier) at other grocery stores (Sprouts, Fresh and Easy) but mixed in with a bunch of other vegetables. And I suspect they just import it in bulk and repackage them (http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/433994012/VF_Crispy_Fried_Vegetable_Snacks_Chips_.html).

  14. I LOVE these!! ...So I guess this is just a matter of personal preference. I agree I thought they were totally odd at first when I saw them in the store and even after I tried the first one. It was surprisingly sweeter than I thought they would be, but I quickly feel in love.
    The tapioca starch/salt/canola oil mixture is what you are getting on your fingers. Its what keeps the beans from sticking together.
    I agree with Rachel too - good (fairly natural/without chemicals & for me paleo-friendly) toddler snack which (aside from fresh fruits/ veggies & cheese/greek yogurt) is hard to come by these days.

  15. I love these things! I have to stop myself from eating the whole bag at once.

  16. I also found these very good, I guess it is a matter of personal preference. I also have to stop myself from eating the whole bag.

  17. My 2 year old grandson LOVES them, but they are fried with Canola oil, which is almost always a GMO oil. I don't think they're healthy at all, but they taste good. But wish I could find a recipe to make them. Have tried in my dehydrator, but not the same. Will stop buying them.