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, September 19, 2011

Trader Joe's S'mores

Everyone knows what a s'more is, right? Aside from Thin Mints and generations of courageous, confident, character-filled women (hey, it's in their mission statement), s'mores probably have to be one of Girl Scout's greatest contributions to society. It may be impossible to prove that Girl Scouts invented the timeless combination of hot fire-toasty marshmallow, semi-melty chocolate and crunchy graham cracker, but they definitely popularized the concept under the name of a "Some More" (as in, "Can I have some more, please?") before being colloquially shortened to just a s'more. Today, you can't go camping or even out to the woods for a campfire and not have them. Sandy and I definitely tracked down the ingredients before setting up a tent for the night at Joshua Tree National Park on our latest vacation which, between those, some TJ chicken sausages, grill-baked potatoes, and good cheap beer courtesy, once more, from TJs, made a great campfire dinner.

It's a little curious to me, then, that these frozen desserts are marketed under the name of "S'more." No, not "S'more Ice Cream Sandwich" or even "S'more Frozen Dessert." Just "S'more." That's it. Listen, Trader Joe's, you and I both know you didn't flambé these on a stick in the middle of nowhere, so it isn't a s'more. Call me a semantic purist but you whiffed there. Also, after hearing on and on about great these were after our latest ice cream sandwich review, and these finally being in stock, and getting home quickly thereafter and putting them in the freezer right away and waiting a day or two after to pull them from the otherwise frosty realm of our good ol' reliable Kenmore to finally eat....ugh. Somewhere along the way, whether in packaging or shipping or in-store handling, you muffed this package, because all the sandwiches were obviously melted then refrozen more or less back in shape, and that wasn't my fault. Don't mess with the reviewer's package, especially when he's the self-proclaimed ice cream expert!

Regardless, they were in okay-enough shape to get an accurate gauge on them. They're definitely different from the Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches, so allow me to compare and contrast: For one thing, while the cookie on the Subliminals (can I call them that?) were the definite highlight, on the S'mores, they were not. That's not to say that they're bad. Like the Subliminals, they were of a softer variety, which I liked but were way smaller and thinner. I wanted more cookie for my sandwich, kinda like how the graham cracker in an actual s'more is a big part of the overall taste. Also, while the ice cream portion of the Subliminals is rather plain, for the S'mores, it's much richer. In fact, it's not even ice cream, but rather gelato (less butterfat and more sugar, which can also help explain the melting issue, but still...) and has lots of marshmallow swirled in. I'd actually say too much, as it seems out of proportion flavor-wise to an actual s'more. And while there's some good chocolate swirled in and flaked around, it doesn't quite cut it for me. Of course, I'm the guy who when crafting his own s'more likes graham crackers snapped a little bigger than necessary with a big ol' chunk of Hershey's in there, with marshmallow being more of a tertiary then primary flavor, so maybe it's just me, but overall they tasted more vaguely reminiscent of a s'more than actual all that s'mores-y.

Actually, it's not just me. Sandy agrees with that notion. "I liked them because they were ice cream-y, but that's about it," she said. I concur. Given a choice between these and the Subliminals, I'd choose the Subliminals nearly every time. I mean, these aren't awful by any stretch (I do like them overall) but to me, they just miss a little too much of the mark, and I'm glad my lovely wife stands in solidarity with me on this. "I'll give them like a 2 and a half," she said. That's exactly half of what she gave the Subliminals. Me? I can't go that low, but feel okay with a 3, a full Golden Spoon less than my Subliminal score. I'd be willing to give them a second chance...whenever they come back in stock...but I won't be holding my breath, either. Disagree? All good! Leave a comment and keep it civil!

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

11 comments:

  1. Hadn't noticed this at TJ's... This is evidently a marketing thing to catch the customer's eye.. btw what was the price on these? by the size of the box u know these are gonna fit in the palm of your hand.. Not quite the size of a Klondike, right? LOL

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  2. I definitely agree with you on the more cookie for the ice cream sandwhich. When I bite into a s'more I love the marshmallow melting but also the crunch of the graham cracker. I feel because its frozen it would have more of a mushy taste than an actually crunch like a cracker, then again I have never tasted this before! And in regards to the chocolate swirl, there is just no way that, the swirl can cut it! I love the chocolate hershey bar in my s'more and I believe they should actually have real pieces of chocolate rather than just the swirl! Anyways I'm a good fanatic and look forward to other posts!

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  3. i was waiting for you to review these- i actually LOVE them! the ice cream is superb in my opinion (maybe having them melted and refrozen affected the quality too much). after reading your blog, i'll give you that they shouldn't be called simply "s'mores", but i don't care because they are delish!

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  4. I love this blog. Great idea! I use tons of stuff from TJ in my kitchen and pass on my favs through gapcreekgourmet.blogspot.com. I linked you and will keep a close eye on your postings for new goodies.
    Thank you for blogging!

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  5. I am with Dina--these are fabulous. I love the soft texture, and think the graham cracker plays excellently with the marshmallow flavor and there's just enough chocolate.

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  6. Oh I love this blog! My boyfriend works at Trader Joe's but he tends to get items that appeal to him more than the items that I want (i.e. desserts!):P

    I've never tried these, but I have seen them! I really like the Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches and I've hardly ever had real s'mores in my lifetime so I probably won't be too finicky about it. Maybe worth a shot!

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  7. I never eat something better man... :] great eating for every time:]
    PS: you have very nice blog :] try to change it to money :]
    http://jakkosworld.blogspot.com/2011/09/backlinkgenius-and-affiliate-system.html

    I hope you lot of sucess :]

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  8. I certainly agree that these aren't bad, I just really liked the Sublime ones so much better. I don't think it was the melting/refreezing issue as much as, between the two, I'd choose the other ones every time. Regardless, glad you're all enjoying the blog, and to those who linked to us from theirs, thanks!

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  9. I still prefer the Sublime ones too! These were fun to try though.

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  10. These were WAY too sweet! I loved the gelato texture, but flavor wise and in combination with the cookie, it was "almost" inedible (meaning cut in half for my daughters to share and left to melt on the kitchen counter after one bite, while I ate the other two eventually). Thanks for the review, but I'm surprised to see others enjoyed this treat.

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