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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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Trader Joe's Fat Free Chile Mango Fruit Floes

We were in a very mangoey mood on our last Trader Joe's run—as you might have noticed, yesterday's post also involved mango.

And a few months ago, we reviewed the Caribbean Fruit Floes, which nearly reached our highly elite "Pantheon" status. Very tasty. So, let's take a look at these Chile Mango Floes and see how they measure up:

First of all, let's make sure everyone knows exactly what's going on here... This is a popsicle-like dessert that is indeed sweet and fruity, and thanks to our zany friends to the south, it has chile on it. As in chile pepper...as in spicy. I lived in Southern California for about 7 years, and let me tell you, I was quite skeptical about sprinkling chile powder on fruit when I first became aware of the practice. Chile powder and corn on the cob made sense: salty and spicy. That works. But spicy and sweet? Mexicanos like to eat chile with their mangos, watermelons, pineapples, and even oranges. Hmmm... It took some convincing.

I was in Disney's California Adventure when I had my first taste of "mango con chile." I remember right where I was standing. Our friend Carlos bought a plate of it and began sharing it with the group. I loved it. First, you taste the mango, and then as you chew, there's this little burst of spice that kicks in later. It's like the clichéed party in one's mouth that everyone and his brother is invited to.

I later tried a vending machine pop with mango-flavored candy, covered in a thick layer of sawdust-like chile powder. It came from our local laundromat in Hollywood, but it was clearly imported from Mexico. Such candies were childhood favorites of Sonia. It was so-so. It got tastier as it went along. I had to suck about 3/4 of the chile powder off before the mango taste even came through, and by then my tongue was somewhat numb, and it made the experience only moderately enjoyable.

These fruit floes are similar. Except in this case, the chile powder cannot be licked off of the candy. It's thoroughly blended with the frozen mango juice. Remember how Sonia and I are always saying that the salsas aren't spicy enough or that they don't seem as spicy as the little chile pepper spice-o-meter would seem to indicate on the package? Not the case with this product! This is quite possibly the spiciest thing I've ever had from TJ's. I'm tempted to take the remaining popsicles, allow them to melt, and use them as a chip-dip instead. I think they overdid it a little in the spice department here. Sonia does, too, and she grew up on these goofy spice n' fruit combos that seem so alien to me.

On the plus side, one can still taste mango through the oddly cold searing pain. There are also a handful of real mango chunks scattered throughout each popsicle—and they're not chile-ified. Chewing them gives one's tongue a moment to recover.

All in all, they're just kinda weird. And that's coming from two people that like chile and mango. Not terrible, but certainly don't get them if you've never had chile and mango or think that that combination sounds a little funky...But if you're the biggest chile-mango fan ever, then by all means grab a box and tell us what you think...

Sonia gives them a 3. I give them a 3.5. Bottom line 6.5 out of 10.

16 comments:

  1. Have to agree with you that these are just weird. My curiosity got the best of me and I had to buy a box. After I ate one I just kind of sat there dumbfounded with a numb mouth thinking "why did I buy these again?"

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  2. Just bought these today . . very weird tasting. Not sure why I bought these either!

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  3. I just got these today and was amazed at how great they are!!! Then again, I was born, raised and still live in Southern California, lol! To each their own I guess :)

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  4. I just bought these tpday and actually quite liked the one I ate. I did notice that there were certain concentrated pockets of chile that overpowered the mango, so I get the feeling that they might vary in heat from pop to pop.

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  5. I wasn't a fan at first, but one day I tried one and somehow it just "clicked". I'm in the camp who believes there aren't enough "spicy" items at Trader Joe's, so it's great to see that these are plenty hot. The sweetness and wonderful real mango flavor does well to offset the heat, and I love the fact that these are made with real fruit (hence the chunks).

    This is coming from someone who isn't as big a fan of the dried fruit version of the chile spiced mango.

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  6. I think they are fabulous! You get the real sweet mango flavor, plus the warm kick of the cayenne pepper. It creates a pleasant sweet and spicy flavor, with an added cool/warm sensation in your mouth.

    If you can't handle spiciness, then by all means, stay away! However, if you enjoy an occasional kick in the taste buds you won't be disappointed.

    BTW, also born and raised in SoCal. :)

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  7. I just discovered your blog while eating one of these treats. I was trying to explain it to a coworker in Montreal what I was eating.

    I enjoyed it and I promised to save a box for the next trip out to California.

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  8. I bought these yesterday. After a disappointing attempt to try to eat it, I went on-line for reviews and found your blog. I love spicy food, and combinations of flavors, but the ratios are imbalanced for my personal taste. After reading some of the comments, though, I'll have to try another one.

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  9. I think it'd be yummy to melt these a bit and add tequila!!

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  10. I got these for the first time...I'm from North Carolina, and we don't do much fruit and pepper here!

    But, I really like these...my mouth is freezing and burning at the same time. I love the fresh mango taste, even though my nose is running and I need a tissue!

    My brother-in-law makes a big deal out of loving things the hotter the better...I think I will take a box to him!

    I would have given this 9 out of 10. (the pops were huge.)

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  11. you bunch of wussys!
    these arnt even that hot and the ice soon cools it down.
    the best thing to happen to my mouth in a long time.
    will be buying again for sure!

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  12. We loved the Caribbean Fruit Floes. So when I saw the Mango flavor I grabbed a box.
    Somehow the whole Chile part slipped past me so I was largely unprepared for something that tasted like Habanero Mango.
    It's a surprising combination of cold that doesn't quench the heat against a base of tasty mango.

    While there is a target market for this kind of heat they're going to be a steep gradient for the average salsa crowd. And I doubt if we'll finish the box.

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  13. Love Them!!! Trader Joes... please keep this product around!!!

    ~a loyal customer

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  14. Chop up some tomatoes onion and cilantro put it in a food processor with salt and lime juice and a chile mango fruit floe (minus the stick :)...spicy sweet mango salsa!! It is awesome! We loved it with chips and tomorrow we are going to try it with blackened fish tacos!

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  15. I love them!!! They are way spicier than I expected, but awesome!

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  16. I'm addicted to these--awesome! Best combo of fruity/spicy and cold/warm that I've ever eaten. Sadly, the local TJs (NYC) discontinued them. Do any other areas still stock them?

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