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, August 8, 2011

Trader Joe's Lemon & Triple Ginger Snap Ice Cream

Question our food knowledge, wisdom and experience as much as you want, but while both Nathan and I are proudly self-proclaimed foodie-hacks (i.e., a couple normal dudes), I am willing to proclaim myself an ice cream expert beyond dispute. Consider my credentials. Thanks to many family summer vacations in Vermont, I have been to the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory* innumerable times (at least twice a summer), so I have seen firsthand how some of the best ice cream around is made, and have probably tasted close to every flavor there. In my college years, I went to Penn State, home of the world famous Creamery, which if you haven't had their ice cream, you're seriously missing out. It's one of Bill Clinton's favorites, and you know that fella likes his frozen desserts. Now that I'm in Pittsburgh, I'm not that far away from great local shops like Dave & Andy's and Oh Yeah! which I frequent every so often for a cone or dish of dairy bliss. Needless to say, I've had lots and lots of regular grocery store-type brands over the years as well, as my gut bears witness to. And Sandy? Aside from puppies, fireworks at a Pirates game, and I hope yours truly, she probably loves ice cream more than anything else in this world. If she could have it every meal of thee day, I know she would and not think twice about it. Give her a sub-par bowlful though, she won't be too shy to voice her displeasure. A sure win of a date for the two of us is to grab the pooch and go out for a scoop. Trust us, we're experts.

So when we both say that Trader Joe's Lemon & Triple Ginger Snap Ice Cream may be some of the best ice cream we've ever had, that says one heckuva lot. As Sandy said between mouthfuls the first time we gobbled some down, "There's nothing bad that can be said about this." So true, wifey. The lemon ice cream base is subtly lemony, kinda sweet and tangy, but not over the top citrusy - there's just enough lemon to let you know it's there, and certainly won't make you want to pucker up. I'd say it's the perfect amount, because it accents the triple ginger cookie dough dry-swirled into the mix in just the right balance. If you've had the Triple Ginger Snaps from TJ's, you know exactly how good they are - a heavenly mix of crystallized, fresh and ground ginger made into cookie batter for a perfect ginger-spiced cookie. It is a fairly dry batter, so it doesn't exactly mix seamlessly in the ideal creaminess that is the lemony ice cream, but the whole consistency works well enough and it's so incredibly tasty that you just can't knock it. Overall, the ratio of cookie dough to ice cream is just about right. There was a pretty large vein of batter we unearthed towards the bottom in our particular carton, which made it seem a little bottom-heavy, but believe me, the two of us didn't mind it at all. The side of the container says each carton holds the rough equivalent of 15 cookies worth of dough, which seems about right to me.

Sandy and I chomped our way through the whole quart of this in only two sittings. Yes, we know, that's bad for you. Ice cream will kill you. Shame on us, yada yada yada. Right. Pick this up, take a taste, and try to put it down. You won't be able to. It's more addictive than Teletubbies for a two-year old. You can't not eat it, unless you're weird and don't like superlatively fantasterific ice cream, or you're some type of monk sworn to abstain from any and all types of earthly pleasure, which in that case I'd say you're missing out.

If I had to give a list of the best ice cream I've ever had, there's no way that this isn't near the top. If you're not familiar with the idea of "pantheon," in short, it's the best of the best, the summit of the mountain, if you will, that once someone or something achieves that level, it's impossible to rank it against others who have achieved that status. It's the most elite of statuses, and not an honor to be taken lightly. It's a Hall of Fame within the Hall of Fame (think Billy Williams vs. Ted Williams). Anyways, if I had to make an ice cream Mt. Rushmore, this would be right up there with the Creamery's Peachy Paterno, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby, and the offbeat but incredulously good bacon and Trix** combo from Oh Yeah!. It's that good, and if it makes the ice cream pantheon, you best believe it qualifies for the WGaTJ's one as well. Five from me, five from my lady, and I wish we had five more cartons in the freezer. Probably a good thing that we don't.

Bottom line: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

p.s. - Don't forget about our reader contest! See what you can win then read the rules and regs. One week left! How good are your chances!?!?!?
*Everyone who works at the Ben & Jerry's factory gets three free pints of ice cream a day. They're also owned by the same folks who own Weight Watchers. Talk about a sustainable business practice.
**Much better than the bacon and hops I had once, as well as the inadvertent wasabi that secretly snuck it's way into my dish once. Talk about an unpleasant surprise.


  1. competely agree with you, this stuff was AMAZING.

  2. I can hardly wait to try it out. I don't have a TJs in my city, so I have to drive a bit, but I'm due to make a run to TJs. Thanks for the recommendation1

  3. I saw that last weekend and was so tempted to buy it. Maybe next time.

  4. yes i tried it yesterday. it was incredible, i told them it was like a dessert made in-house at a high end restaurant. definitely to serve to guests.
    absolute 10.

  5. My only complaint about this fabulous ice cream is that I finished the container much faster than I would have finished a container of vanilla or chocolate. So Yummy.

  6. When your only complaint is that there isn't more, that's a high, high compliment.

  7. I'm so "glad" I got to share that wasabi experience with you. At least I wasn't the only one thrown off by the assortment of flavors in my cup.

  8. Generally I'm chocolate, caramel ice cream person, but when I saw this in the store I had to have it (big fan of the cookies). Completely agree with the review. In fact, I called my parents and said 'you must buy'!

  9. Yes I thought this ice cream was good, too. But nothing, NOTHING compares to the Mint Chip ice cream at Trader Joe's. I have been going through two of those a week since I moved to California in 2009. I am serious, that ice cream NEVER gets old. Every time I eat it I think about how flipping amazing it is, how it has the perfect amount of chocolate chips, how the chocolate is the correct consistency to melt in your mouth and how the mint is not overpowering.

    I searched your website and couldnt find that you've done a review on it. Surely you've had it before... and then Im amazed that you dont think it is the number one ice cream... unless you dont like mint.

    Really it is the most wonderful treat. Nothing beats it for me. I've often wondered about the breakdown I would have it TJs ever discontinued it...

  10. Bought this today after reading this review. My husband and I had it tonight. SOOOOO good. I think I have a new favorite ice cream. Thanks!

  11. I bought this ice cream a few weeks ago after seeing your review....ahhhh, it is to-die-for! Loved it. Will definitely buy more. I hope it stays at TJs for a while. I hate when they get rid of products I love.

  12. I'm definitely in the minority, as this doesn't really blow me away. The ginger cookie part is fantastic, but overwhelmes the delicate lemon flavor. And I don't care for the little bits of ginger. Has a texture I could do without, like coconut. This ice cream actually reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, which of course you can't buy anymore: B&J's "Festivus". Gingerbready goodness. Mmm. If you never got to have that one, I'm sorry. Now their best is the Oatmeal Cookie and Mission to Mars. Best almond flavored anything ever.

  13. I meant Mission to Marzipan. D'oh.

  14. I consumed (with the help of a friend or two) three pints of this over the summer...and fought through a crowd for the last container in my local store. It's amazing...the only reason I can think of to not be distraught over it being gone...is the thought of their pumpkin coming out soon! Another winner in my book.

  15. Pumpkin ice cream?? Gonna be on the lookout for that! This is easily my favorite store bought ice cream.

  16. I am an ice cream nut - this looks like it would taste amazing. Now I am officially jealous there is no Trader Joes in my country :(

  17. I'm with halcyon - first experience is great, but it kind of becomes a chore to eat it after a while - too many gingersnaps.

  18. I have never tried this but have seen it recently in my rush to get to my current favorite: the chocolate & vanilla ice cream with the fleur de sel caramel ribbon. OMG that is heaven. The only thing that makes it better is throwing some almonds in, which I do, liberally.

    But now I'm inspired to try the lemon gingersnap! Loving this blog--thank you =)

  19. hmmm.... tried the lemon gingersnap and guess I'm in the minority, but I didn't LOVE it. I managed to eat it =) but wouldn't be in a hurry to buy it again. That being said, if someone served it to me, I wouldn't turn it down.

  20. Sorry to discover Triple Ginger Lemon Ice Cream was discontinued on 4/4/2013.

    Web Customer Relations

    The Triple Ginger Lemon Ice Cream has been discontinued due to nationwide slow sales, and inventory is no longer available at our warehouses....I miss this one, too! I am sorry for the disappointment, as there are no plans for the return of this item. We also are contractually bound to a non-disclosure agreement for any product under our Trader Joe's Private Label and may not divulge our supplier.

    I have shared your comments with our Product Steering Committee. I cannot guarantee an immediate outcome; however, we absolutely do take customer requests into account when we develop new products and revise, or bring back old ones!

    Best regards,

    Customer Relations

    1. I was totally upset when I went to purchase my ginger cereal and ginger Ice cream and it was no longer available. If your going to take an Item off the shelves even if it is a slow seller you should at least advertise that it will no longer be available to those whom do purchase it so we may have the chance to stock up on that item!