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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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Trader Joe's Non Fat Plain Frozen Yogurt

Sandy looooooooves blogs. Loves them. I have no idea how many she follows but her Google Reader feed is usually so filled with posts and articles about how to make the new cool animal of the day out of popsicle sticks that usually any of our posts are something like #376 on her list. I have no problem with that. She's unearthed a guest blogger opportunity for me on one of her favorites, Children of the '90s, so check that, especially you baseball fans. The one blog that she continually rambles on and on about (other than this one, of course) is Hungry Runner Girl. Oh man. She could talk about it literally all day, about how cool the writer, Janae, is, how fast she can run, how far she can run (20+ miles a day?!?!), how much she can eat (I'll admit, it's quite impressive) and how pretty the pictures she takes are. But the one big thing they share is their love of frozen yogurt. There's this place in Utah that Ms. HRG goes to called Yogurtland that's a selfserve, pile-as-many-toppings-on, pay-by-the-ounce kinda deal that she continually raves about. There's similar places around the 'burgh like Razzy Fresh that while Sandy really enjoys, I'm not that into. Not that I've tried it, either. I don't know. I like delicious frozen treats as much as anyone, and have absolutely nothing against frozen yogurt, but that concept just doesn't appeal to me for whatever reason, and usually when Sandy mentions going out for a cold treat I'll steer the car towards Rita's instead. I'm probably just weird, with this frozen yogurt shop aversion and all, but hey, I'm the same guy who detests ketchup (that's a story for another day). So yeah, I got my food hang-ups, and that's one of them.

Anyways, since we never go out for some "fro-yo" (as Sandy loves to call it with all sorts of different intonations ranging from little kid to slightly ghetto), she implicitly insisted we bring some home from our last TJ's trip. She spotted the Non Fat Plain Frozen Yogurt, and I'm guessing with the idea of flavoring our own bowlful with whatever we see fit, that's what we got.

Well, Sandy loves the TJ fro-yo. Oh man, she does. Right after her first bite she smiled and said "Mmmm, it tastes very yo-ey. Me gusta." Right away she went into a whole litany of ideas as to what to top hers with, ranging from honey to one of TJ's new-fangled grindy guys to exotic stuff like cinnamon pear vinegar. She's been going through a whole yogurt kick recently so it's no wonder to me that she enjoys it. Me? Eh. I get that it's healthier than ice cream, and there's little bad that can be said about frozen treats. Except...the taste. I don't know. I've never had a frozen yogurt that tasted so, well, yogurty. The Ben & Jerry's-esque carton claims it's "pleasantly tart." I'd up that to "nearly overwhelmingly." It's so tart it's nearly sour like a yogurt-flavored Warhead. With my first bite, I took to wincing a bit while stomping my foot (that's my normal reaction to tastes that catch me off guard, don't ask) under the sheer tartness of it all. It's too much. I gave it a second go-around just before writing this and while taking a plain bite, I could brace myself better but still found it to be too much. I then tried to cover it up by dumping some Hershey's and peanuts on, and while it helped, the yogurt taste still hacked its way through like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. There's got to be something that will make it better - fresh fruit? - but it's just a bit too much for me. Got a suggestion? Leave a comment either below or on our Facebook page and I'll take it under consideration.

Sandy's all about it. She can't say anything wrong about it whatsoever and she probably can't wait to eat this every single night. Sandy gives it a whopping 4.5 out of 5. Me? Sigh. This won't be the largest disparity in our rankings ever, but it'll be close. Too darn yo-ey. I'm going with a 2, though I'm open to revising that if I can find the right stuff to go with it.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

18 comments:

  1. We had Yogurtlands in Los Angeles, and they are freaking awesome. Try to visit one on your SoCal vacation, Russ.

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  2. We tried it a few months ago and all thought it was way to tart and yogurt-y. I think we ended up using it in milkshakes with lots of chocolate, but we may have just thrown it away (and we hate to do that). I completely understand about your ketchup aversion. I rarely buy it and will almost always substitute BBQ sauce or just a bit of tomato paste for the few recipes that call for it.

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  3. Nathan-I scouted out the locations in every city we're going to!

    Amanda- I'm sure you won't be buying it again, but it's good with honey drizzled on it (which is also good in regular yogurt too)

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  4. It helps if you don't go into it with the presumption that it will taste like popularized, ice-creamy fro-yo such as Yogurtland or Golden Spoon. This is straight-up frozen YOGURT, so yeah, it tastes like tart yogurt.

    I have a carton in my fridge, but only use it to add to fruit smoothies. I'd never try to eat it straight, because I am one of those people who prefers the soft-serve style Yogurtland stuff. :)

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  5. I LOVE this yogurt and I'm so glad TJ's started carrying it. I have it with fresh raspberries and chocolate chips!

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  6. Okay Russ, this post absolutely MADE MY DAY!! I am more than obsessed with your blog!! You are right...it is quite impressive how much food I can down:) I NEED TO TRY TJ's FRO-YO now....too bad I am in utah again boo!!! I don't know what to do without TJ's in my life! PS Sandy sounds like my kind of girl...we would get along quite well:) PS Billy isn't 'that into it' either!

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  7. Oh Janae, I have my Yogurtland stops planned out! There's one in between out hotel and Disneyland! I think I'll have someone hand me one from the one along the race route too. Then stop again after the race ;)

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  8. Your description of the tartness makes me want to try it. When I go to yogurt shops I like to get the "plain" flavor, and the tarter the better. So far Red Mango is the best/tartest I've found. Most don't go far enough in the tarness arena. I've always been disappointed by store-bought yogurts and wonder why they don't taste as good as at a shop. Maybe this will finally please my palate.

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  9. I was on a big health kick last summer and found many recipes that called for plain nonfat yogurt to be used in place of sour cream! I would buy little packs of the Kroger store brand yogurt and it was definitely a fantastic substitute, and much, much healthier.
    Not sure if this stuff tastes anything like other store brands, but if it does, give it a try!

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  10. i've been way into plain yogurt lately... and this post was like... ahh gotta try it... so i did... and it's amaazing :). so good with berries on top:).

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  11. So Sandy and I went to Yogurtland on our SoCal vacation...twice...I actually really enjoyed it. That Hungry Runner Girl knows what's up. Still, the similiar-ish local place still looks all skeevy to me for whatever reason.

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  12. There is plenty of evidence that dairy products are not really suitable for humans and are better left to cows, they carry an awful lot of undesirable hormones and what not. So it might be just as well not to like frozen yogurt.

    I do like that stuff though and best with fruit and for you maybe some berries heated with maple syrup, spiced maybe with ginger and/or chili peppers may make the difference?

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  13. Original froyo + sweetened condensed milk + mochi + strawberry + kiwi.

    That's what you need.

    Suhriously.

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  14. It's great for smoothies and my girlfriend likes it with a little jam.

    Blend some frozen yogurt with
    1 mango
    1 bananna
    a little Orange Juice
    a few ice cubes

    I'm having it right now. Great after the gym

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    1. Oh . . . the problem is that it's seasonal. The don't sell it during fall and winter.

      How do I find out who makes it so I can have it all the time?

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  15. I'm with you on the tartness of this. I thought I would give it a try because I'm not allowed to have full-fat dairy products and TJ hasn't failed me often with its quality. My brain had a bit of a shock, though, when it conferred with my tastebuds on that first spoonful. I didn't notice the "tart" warning on the package, which is really my fault. But it occurred to me it tasted a bit like Key Lime Pie with no lime to be seen. This is the concept I'm going to try to approach it with for my next bowl--because while I fear yogurt, I LIKE key lime pie-- to properly set my expectations. I tried some butterscotch topping on it to smooth it over, but it conflicted with the tartness. I have a feeling this is going to be in my freezer a long time, while packages of Mochi Ice Cream come and go. :)

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