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, June 28, 2011

Trader Joe's Dynamo

When I hear the word "Dynamo," I think of the overweight, opera-singing, lightning-slinging baddie from 1987's The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Played by some unknown Dutch-American fellow named Erland van Lidth, the character was bold, brash, and unfashionably fat. In fact, soon after the film's release, Mr. van Lidth passed away from heart failure in his New York City flat.

I thought maybe this beverage was inspired by the robustness of Dynamo from the movie. Or maybe, I thought, this beverage was dedicated to the loving memory of poor Erland, implying that if he had drunk more fruit juices fortified with vitamins and calcium and cut back on the greasy street vendor hotdogs, that perhaps he would not have met such an unfortunate, untimely demise.

It certainly didn't occur to me that this beverage might not have anything to do with The Running Man or the fictional Dynamo character. I mean, shoot, even the lights on the guy's costume were kinda orange. You expect me to believe that's just a coincidence?

At any rate, we decided to try it. I was somewhat scared. The beverage looked so very orange, I assumed that carrot juice was a main ingredient. I did check the list, and all of the juices seemed pretty safe. No carrot juice at all. Curious. Also, I noted on the product tag that some store employee named Jen recommended it. I took dear, sweet Jen for her word. Mind you, I have no idea who Jen is or whether, in fact, she is dear and/or sweet.

Then we tasted it. First impressions? The biohazard-orange color and the blatant Schwarzenegger action film allusions were way misleading. The first word out of Sonia's mouth was "Weird." We had both brushed our teeth just 45 minutes prior to trying this drink, so initially we blamed the lack of flavor on that. Later on, we tried it again, but same conclusion. The flavor of this beverage was not unpleasant, but was really, really, surprisingly subtle. Sonia declared, "It tastes like lemon juice with a little bit of sugar." I thought maybe I hadn't shaken the bottle enough. I proceeded to manhandle the juice, now with a sizeable pocket of air trapped inside the container, and agitated the beverage into a frothy foam.

There indeed had been a little extra flavor hiding in the form of sediment on the bottom of the bottle, yet still, I wondered where most of the apple, white grape, pineapple, and orange flavors mentioned on the ingredients list had gone. It was almost as if all those flavors canceled each other out.

I can see how this would be a very refreshing beverage after a run on a hot day. It is light, despite its robust name and color. And I'm sure the extensive list of vitamins and minerals would help an athlete regain his or her strength after a workout. Unfortunately, when we tried it, it was raining outside, so it was cool, and we were not in desperate need of deep refreshment.

Sonia's final assessment: "There's not enough flavor. I can't taste anything." But she agreed that it wasn't really gross, just kind of bland. She gives it 2.5 stars out of 5.

If I had been expecting something really light, I think I would have been fairly impressed. I think TJ's Dynamo would be extrememely satisfying after a half hour of jogging in the hot sun. I want to be careful to score it for what it is, and not for what I thought it was going to be. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.


  1. I don't think that's what Dynamo is designed for, refreshment. Look at it as a giant bottle of liquid vitamins, and then it all makes sense!

    I have two bottles right now.

  2. We need a Traders in Jacksonville, FL

  3. Bland? Oh my. I love this juice. I don't usually dig juices, but LOVE this one.

  4. My kids LOVE this stuff! It kind of reminds me of Five Alive, which is not available in the US, and not something I would actually by for my kids anyway. I like the fact that Dynamo is packed with vitamins. Although it is loaded with sugar, it's not from high fructose corn syrup and contains no artificial colors. So, all in all, I could do worse for them.

    1. Yes, you're right, Amy. Five Alive is similar. It used to be available in the US, but now that I think about it, I haven't seen it here for 15 years or so...