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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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Trader Joe's Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls with Vanilla Icing

Somewhere in middle America, in some dank, dark basement full of sharp kitchen utensils and 60's memorabilia, a narrow beam of hazy sunlight spills in through the window at the top of a cinderblock wall, illuminating the Pillsbury Doughboy, alone, languishing in a moment of self-pity. Deep in thought, the chubby fellow is sharpening his favorite pastry knife...and plotting his revenge...his revenge on Trader Joe.

Cost-wise and taste-wise, these cinnamon rolls are enough to send even the most agreeable of bakery mascots into a jealous rage. I really couldn't think of any other good bakery mascots...except for maybe that Bimbo Bear, and let's face it, a little something is lost in translation with that particular immigrant bruin—or rather, perhaps, a little something unwanted is gained in translation.

Now, I can't think of anything to complain about with these cinnamon rolls, except for maybe the high fat content, too many calories, etc. But hey, you don't buy jumbo cinnamon rolls in order to drop a few dress sizes. And no, I don't wear dresses. I was speaking to our primarily female audience.

So like I was saying, I can't think of anything to complain about...but Sonia can! Because she was the one who prepared them in the kitchen. She claims that she followed the instructions exactly, but that the packaging assaulted her as she attempted to remove the first two cinnamon rolls from the container, or something like that. She was only trying to take out the first portion of the dough, but according to her account, all six rolls ganged up on her and attacked her straight out of the package. She baked the first two rolls, but then she was forced to put the remaining four into sandwich baggies, as the cylinder the pastries originated from was destroyed in the debacle. She was thoroughly disgusted...so much so, that even the incredible taste of these huge, fluffy pastry rolls failed to fully atone for her traumatic experience in the kitchen. She docked a point and a half before she even tasted the finished product.

But I must say, the icing was good, although there's not exactly a plethora of it. We had to use it sparingly to make it last for all six rolls. But the pastries were soft, tender and sweet. There was a great balance of cinnamon throughout the product, unlike Baker Josef's Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake, which may or may not have been our fault...

I'm going to have to give them 4 out of 5 stars overall. Sonia gives them a 3.5, but her score would have been higher if not for the faulty packaging. Overall, I think these rolls are quite a success. Tell the Pillsbury Doughboy to pack it up and hit the road. And Trader Joe, watch your back!

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

4 comments:

  1. None of those Pillsbury roll cans allow you to only make two and keep the other ones in the can. They all explode in your hands - that's part of the fun of making them...

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  2. Tried these based on your review and I found them quite tasty. My package only had 5 rolls instead of 6 and even though I was generous with the not too sweet icing, I still had some left over.

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  3. Quite tasty indeed. At least we agree on that. It's entirely possible there were 5 and not 6. Elementary math was never my strong suit. And it's also quite possible that we ran out of icing because I am a gluttonous frosting hog. bonnjill, I have no doubt that Pillsbury cans are uncooperative too, but Sonia seemed to take particular offense to the TJ's packaging for some reason...

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  4. It's not so much that either brand's packaging is "uncooperative" - it's that they're designed to bust open. They're not designed to hold some of the product after they've been opened. That's just not what a cardboard tube of dough does, or is intended to do. Anything packaged this way will necessarily burst open, and then you have to take all of the dough out and either bake it or do something else with it.

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