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, November 5, 2011

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Soufflés

I actually wrote the bulk of my previous post (about the peanut butter oat bars) in a little journal while riding on the train home from work. For some reason, it felt like I had written a novel, and yet, when I transcribed it into this blog, the post actually turned out significantly shorter than my average post. I had completely forgotten how tedious writing by hand can be. I guess some might say how cathartic and therapeutic it is, but really, I do much prefer typing on a keyboard. (I'm writing this entry by hand right now, and my wrist is already tired and sore after one measly paragraph). Thank goodness for modern conveniences. It's so easy to take them for granted. But anyway, I imagine you're interested in the soufflés...

Prior to this blog post, I'm not sure if I could have told you precisely what a "soufflé" is. Something sort of puffy came to mind when I heard the word, but I don't think I knew what it was made of or what it tasted like or anything. I suppose not knowing the properties of a traditional soufflé gave me somewhat of a disadvantage when it came to comparing and contrasting a pumpkin soufflé with a usual one. But that's not really the point, as I am a foodie-hack that knows what he likes and what he doesn't like and that's pretty much what this blog is all about, take it or leave it.

Here's what I found about souffles from a quick Google search:

souf fle /ˈso͞ofəl/
Noun: A low murmuring or blowing sound heard through a stethoscope.

Wow! Pumpkin indeed must have transformed these strange murmurs into something different entirely. These souffles are more like oven pastries than blowing sounds within the body (though they may create such noises after consumption). Ah, but silly me—these are soufflés, not souffles. The accent over the "e" makes all the difference, even if it does slow down my typing, hitting "alt+0233" every time I type the word "soufflé." It's still much faster than writing by hand, so I won't complain about the alt commands...at least not until there's some kind of app that reads your mind every time you want to type a letter with an accent as opposed to the organic, non-accented version.

But seriously though, apparently, a soufflé is a cupcake-like pastry of sorts that puffs up while you bake it and then deflates like a cheap children's jumping castle at a frat party once you take it out of the oven. The box recommends baking these in cupcake pans for 25 minutes. We didn't have cupcake pans, so we baked them on a regular baking tray. They took 40 minutes for us—perhaps for want of the proper culinary tools. And they were still very squishy in the middle. But I rather enjoyed them that way. Sort of like warm bread pudding, texture-wise. They tasted like pumpkin pie filling. Which, unless you're like my friend who, on the subject of pumpkin pie, once said, "Um, yeah, like, I'm not big on vegetables as desserts," is a fairly good flavor.

My big complaint with the Pilgrim Joe's Pumpkin Ice Cream was that it tasted like pumpkin pie, but lacked the duality of textures featured in pumpkin pie: bread and puddingy filling. Well, this product was sorta like a combo of both of those textures, more greatly resembling the former on the outside, where it was cooked better, and more greatly resembling the latter on the inside, where it was slightly more raw. So, if you can get something to taste like pumpkin pie and have a bit of complexity in the texture department, it's a winner in my book. I give it 4 stars.

My score might have been slightly lower, but my wife enjoyed neither the texture nor the flavor of these. Not exactly sure why. She said she just didn't like them. She shafted them with a paltry 2 stars. That's just too low. These shouldn't be lower than a 6 overall. And that's exactly what they shall be.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10 stars.


  1. Whaaa? A mere 6 out of 10? Did you not slather them in whip topping, as the Great Pumpkin intended?

    These things are held in high esteem at my house....

  2. I love to eat these and drink Red Bull and blog at Game Apps. It sounds gross I know. But I promise. As gross as it sounds....red bull goes GREAT with them.

  3. I haven't had this yet, but I love every other pumpkin thing I've gotten at TJ's. I think the pumpkin cream cheese is my favorite, although the pumpkin pancake-waffle mix is a close second.

    Food at Trader Joe's? Great.
    Lines at Trader Joe's? Not so great--http://www.inlinewaiting.com/2011/11/beating-the-line-trader-joes/

  4. Dave, I am a big fan of red bull, and an energy-drink addict in general. I wish I had tried that combo...Jayavarman, keep in mind the score would have been an 8 if I were the only one scoring them...madeye, we've had the pumpkin cream cheese recently. Yummers. Rose, hope you enjoyed them :)

  5. Sorry guys, I'm a big pumpkin fan. However these soufflés didn't really taste like pumpkin. I guess I could give it another try with a whip topping just as Jayavarman mentioned.

  6. I got these for our thanksgiving dessert. We really enjoyed them. They are supposed to still be a bit wiggly in the center, the perfect receptacle for fresh whipped cream.

    My hubby looked for pumpkin pie, when he didn't see any he asked me, "So, where is the pie?"

    I replied, as seriously as I could, "I didn't get any, we are having pumpkin spiced chai tea for dessert, with skim milk."

    The look on his face...it was priceless!

  7. Hi Nathan, your experience with the souffle was accurate though - the texture is in between a cake and pudding. It can go either way depending on how you bake it.