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, June 6, 2011

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars

The good people at Trader Joe's have really shot themselves in their collective foot. They've established such high expectations from their customers that it's virtually impossible to please all the time...even with a decent product. I think many people who have been shopping at TJ's for a while have come to expect their products to be innovative, high-quality, unique, healthy, and green.

Those are some high standards to live up to. And, more often than not, they meet or exceed those standards, in my opinion. However, in some cases like this one, Trader Joe's seems to do what everyone else is doing, and even though their product is just as good as the competition, it feels like they didn't go all out...they didn't put their whole heart into it. And we know Trader Joe's can do better.

There are some unique TJ's products like the recently reviewed Scallop Bites or the classic Meatless Corn Dogs that simply aren't comparable to many products from other brands. Trader Joe's gets to set the bar in those cases, and they generally set it very high. Then, there are products like the Peanut Brittle, where TJ's takes a classic, common food, and they simply knock it out of the ballpark...they make it the way it was supposed to be, and they go above and beyond what's expected.

So when Trader Joe's makes a run-of-the-mill, average granola bar, it's a little disappointing. At any regular grocery store or Wal-Mart or Target, there's going to be a store-brand version of your basic chocolate chip granola bar. Those store brands are always going to come close to the name brands, but maybe fall a hair short on taste, texture, and/or overall quality. That's exactly what TJ's has done here. They're not bad, but they're not great either.

Sonia liked that these bars were gluten-free, and that they were rice and oat-based. She liked their texture, but she wasn't thrilled with the chocolate part, stating that its flavor was "weird and carob-ish." I agree. I thought maybe the chocolate was just darker than I'm used to, but Sonia really likes dark chocolate and she wasn't really a fan. I think a non-coated version of these bars would have been more successful.

They're certainly convenient like other brands, they come individually-wrapped, and they're very portable. They're crispy enough and they have plenty of chips. It's just that when it comes down to it, I'd still choose a Quaker Chewy Granola Bar over the Trader Joe's brand. TJ's version just tastes like a regular store brand snack. So-so.

Sonia gives it a 3, and I give it a 2.5. Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little disappointed that you say you'd buy Quaker Chewy Granola Bars over Trader Joe's. I'm not saying either is particularly healthy but with Quaker you are getting PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND COTONSEED OILS* and PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL (i.e.:Trans fat) and CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS and CARAMEL COLOR. Those are not on the Trader Joe's label and are not healthy.

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