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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Monday, May 16, 2011

Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Mango

So, Nathan and I are kinda similar overall. We both love eating Trader Joe's stuff and blogging about it, we both graduated from Penn State at more or less the same time, and the two of us significantly outkicked our coverage with our much better looking wives. My folks when they first saw our write-up from the good folks at The Daily Meal said judging from our pics on there, we could have been twins separated at birth, which if that's the case, there's some dark family secret I don't want to know about. I'm the squintier looking guy.

It seems like, at times, we have similar shopping habits and curiosities nearly simultaneously. For instance, Sandy got one delectable looking Trader Ming treat a month or two ago, and planned to eat it on a certain night so I could review it ... well, that same day Nathan posted his review on the same tasty beef and broccoli treat, so that got nixed. Doh. Last week, I dodged a bullet of sorts when he decided to try out an adventurous chile-mango combo at the same time I did ... he did the frozen version though, and I picked up the dried fruit version. Whew.

Unlike Nathan, though, my awesome Comcast Internet connection has been on the fritz all week until now, not allowing me to write or post any reviews. Thanks for holding down the fort, sir.

Anyways, like Nathan, as a good old Pennsylvania boy, chile and mango is not a combination that I was accustomed to growing up. The craziest we got with flavor combos in my childhood was putting pretzels on our ice cream. I've been to Mexico twice but have somehow avoided the chile and fruit phenomenon down there, so I'll admit this is my first foray into this gustatory realm.

It's not something I'm willing to give up on quite yet, but I don't think the Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Mango dried fruit chunks made the best introduction. The issue is, I think, for a flavor combination to work, there has to be at least two flavors present. With these, literally all you can taste is the chile. It's coated on the mango pieces like sand on some cheap sandpaper. And since it's dried fruit, with juiciness being the essence of mango flavor, well ... the mango flavor is there, barely perceptible. It takes a lot of work to get at it, and with the heat level radiating off the spices, it may not be something you're willing to do. I wish Trader Joe's would halve the spice on these and redistribute it in some of their other goods, and try to figure out a way to let the mangoey goodness shine through. It's just so imbalanced that it doesn't really work.

Sandy and I tried a piece at the same time. She didn't have quite the reaction I expected, but it wasn't exactly positive either. I think she managed to get down her one small piece she took, but that's all she's ever going to have. I can munch on them here and there, but I'm not the biggest fan of them either. It's not that they're too spicy for us (though I think they are the spiciest thing we've ever purchased at TJ's), but the heat drowns out any trace of the mango. Honestly, you could tell me these were chile-laden chunks of tough orange leather, and I would have no basis to not believe you. About the only thing I'm looking forward to in regard to these is bringing them into work, having them on my desk, and daring coworkers to try them. They already think I'm weird enough because of my occasionally shaved head, my expressed love of long bike rides, my French press coffee, and my generally persistent amicable demeanor. Bringing in the remaining bagful of these guys might ratchet me up to a whole 'nother level.

Sandy gives them a 1. I'll be the slightly more gracious one this time and give them a 2. Kinda like my thoughts on chocolate flavored gum and the cupholders in my Subaru - good concept, but in practice, it just doesn't quite work, at least not in this case.

Bottom line: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons

24 comments:

  1. To add to the weird similarities, I have the occasional shaved head, too. I also drive a Subaru (which, overall, I love) that has sub-par cupholders.

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  2. I love the mango salsa from Trader Joe’s.
    Sorry about the connection issues. Feel free to contact me if you need further assistance. I work for Comcast.
    Best regards,

    Mark Casem
    Comcast Corp.
    National Customer Operations
    We_can_help@cable.comcast.com

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  3. Thanks for the offer, Mark! I seem to be set for now, but anything comes up I'll drop you a line for sure.

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  4. been meaning to try the new cannoli...ya'll should review that.

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  5. Rudy, I'll keep an eye out for 'em on our next trip! That sounds like something I'd be interested in trying out too.

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  6. Rudy, we will most certainly be trying the cannoli! I will make sure of that!

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  7. My wife absolutely loves this stuff, but grew up largely in Hawaii, so maybe it's similar to some of the snacks there. I like it okay . . . better than a three, anyway. Ouch!

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  8. Jeremy - lol, yeah ... I actually had a couple more slices and like it *slightly* better now, but I wouldn't bump up my rating too much. I don't think Sandy will try it again.

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  9. What!?!? A 3!?!? I love this stuff... then again I like spicy food. I disagree about not being able to taste the mango... I think it adds just enough sweet to balance the spicy.

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  10. I love this stuff! It's the first thing I put in my cart when I make a trip to TJ's. They used to sell chocolate covered chili mango that was even better. BTW I work in Mexico as well as the US and I may be more used to the flavor profile. Also, I have gotten my colleagues hooked on this stuff.

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  11. Yum! I love this stuff as well! :D

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  12. I also love these. I grew up eating very heavily spiced foods and these are heaven to my tastebuds.

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  13. Couldn't disagree more with this review. I taste lots of mango with just a nice bit of spiciness. My husband loves them too. I don't think they're really hot at all. My oldest, who doesn't like things quite as spicy thinks they are okay. My youngest, who hates anything spicier than a mild salsa, didn't like them at all. I think it might be more of liking spicy foods and the flavor combination. DH & I are big fans of Indian dishes, mango chutneys, and spicy-sweet combos.

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  14. Haha, well, between this and the Spicy Black Bean Dip, I've taken a bit of a beating between a lot of people who love 'em. If you like it, don't let someone else's opinion knock 'em down too much. Just, for me, wasn't a fan.

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  15. Perhaps you are not eating them correctly?

    Cut a thin slice of baguette. Put a good sized serving of triple cream brie on the bread. Top it with a piece of the chile mango.

    The fat in the cheese distributes the flavors of the chile and mango.

    The bread is necessary only as a carrier to separate us from the animals.

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  16. A 3? That's sad. I would bump it up to more in the 8 range. It's one of the first things I plop into my basket when I hit TJ's. The mango is sweet and chewy and I don't get the heat of the chile until after the first fruity bite.

    Then again I live in Arizona and have been eating fruit and chile for years. The only way they could improve upon it would be to add lime and salt. Mmm, delicioso!

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  17. Chile spice mango ... That is my #1 snack! It is the best chile mango version I ever had!

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  18. I much prefer the chili spice pineapple. It has the perfect balance of chili and sweet sun dried fruit taste. I highly recommend them! I love mango and also was very disappointed with the TJ chili spiced mango treat. I only bought it once and won't bother purchasing it for a second time.

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  19. Had the chili spice mango and the regular mango. I didn't think there was too much chili, but I think the chili powder used was a bit old. It had a sawdust-like taste. The regular mango was great, although every once in a while one of the bags has a grayish piece... those probably should not have been dried in the first place.

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  20. I enjoy eating my chili mango, My snack since my childhood,
    we didn't eat chocolates, or m&m's but we sure ate alot of Chile con Mango and everything else with powdered chili. I rate this the best I've had so far in the U.S.

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  21. Growing up eating southeastern cuisines, I munch on these spiced fruits (especially the spiced pineapple) as if they were candy, yum.

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  22. Chile Spiced Mango? We love it!! Our kids love it too, they'll finish the whole bag in about 15 minutes if we don't watch them (they're 9, 6, and 4). But then again, we're hispanic and use chile powder on a lot of our fruit (mango, orange, sliced cucumber, apple). If you're looking for the perfect spice for fruit, look for "Tajin Fruit and Snack Seasoning"; it's spicy, no sugar, and you can use as little or as much as you want.

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  23. This shit is the shit! I dunno what you're talking about...

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  24. I would rate them about a 7 out of 10. I tried them for the first time on Saturday. I generally prefer mild to medium spicy food and these are definitely about as hot as I like it.

    The sweetness of the mango is a great combo with the chili. The mango is sweet and chewy and spicy a definitely interesting flavor profile. But I liked them and I plan on buying another bag next time I'm at Trader Joe's.

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