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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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trader Joe's 24 Chocolate Days 'til Christmas

Busted. This isn't really a food item. Well, part of it is. Chocolate. Well, really, if you've tried this product, you'd know that the "chocolate" involved here isn't really even food.

The chocolate in this advent calendar is quite probably the most revolting chocolate I've ever ingested during my 33 Christmases. (I'm 32 years old, but you have to count the one Christmas I lived through before I was a year old). And, yes, if by some strange chance I had worse chocolate at 6 months of age in December of 1979, I would have remembered it. In fact, I would have been so scarred by the incident, that I would have written off chocolate for the rest of my life and been one of those rare souls that dislikes chocolate for reasons they can't fully explain.

The chocolate in this advent calendar tastes like a combination of plastic and cardboard, with an emphasis on the cardboard...with an extra dose of the weird glue that holds the particles of board together as a solid substance. The graphics on each window are fairly cute and well-designed, but really, they have nothing to do with Christmas at all. Not secular Santa-style Christmas. Not the true Jesus-inspired Christian Christmas. There's a baseball on there, for crying out loud. This might as well be a countdown to Labor Day.

Granted, there are other versions of Trader Joe's Advent Calendars, but I'm reviewing this one...which very well could be four years old or so. The chocolate tastes like it's at least that old...which reminds me of the time my grade school friend and I handed out 5 year old chocolate at Halloween. It was white. And I don't mean it was white chocolate. I mean it was traditional brown milk chocolate that was so old that it was turning back into sugar. We gave it to a group of cheerleaders that went to our high school. They returned a couple hours later and threw the half-eaten candies at us. It was hysterical. It was worth it.

It seems that karma has seen to it that I am now the brunt of such a joke—a cruel joke perpetrated by my old friend TJ. Good one, buddy. This stuff tastes like butt, and you tricked me into paying you for it. With other advent calendars, we would generally fight each other over who gets to eat the chocolate, but with this top-shelf quality product, my wife and I bicker about who has to eat the chocolate each day.

TJ's could have at least thrown us a bone and put Bible verses with the Christmas story behind each window, or maybe individual lines to The Night Before Christmas. But no. Everything is just blank. The chocolate isn't even good for you...not even a little bit. All things considered, I'd rather be eating carob.

And I hate carob. Well, except for Sunspire 33011 Unsweetened Carob Chips (Google Affiliate Ad). Those are yummerific.

I give this stuff a 1. Way to go, Santa Joe. I'm'a have the fire going Christmas Eve, buddy. Don't try to enter through the chimney. Sonia gives it a 2. I don't feel bad. Call me Scrooge. Merry freakin' Christmas, TJ's. 24 Revolting Chocolate Days 'til I Puke My Face Off.

Bottom line: 3 out of 10.


  1. And it's really ugly also. I guess we'll stick with the calendars from Aldi filled with morsels of German chocolate- which also have traditional Christmas scenes (mostly secular to be sure).

  2. Wow, that sounds terrible! You can always return it. Don't suffer through terrible chocolate! TJ's has a great return policy where if you don't like their product, you can return it no questions asked.

  3. Ha, ha, ha! Or ho, ho, ho?! Hilarious review. I snuck a chocolate out of my daughter's advent calendar from TJ's and I totally agree with you. A lump of coal would've been better. At least you know not to eat it.

  4. We bought this last year, and it was pretty bad last year, too. But my kids loved it (mainly because they got to eat candy everyday!). I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

  5. LOL!

    And it is terrible chocolate! But this is such a funny post it almost makes me want to buy one this year just to check and see if the chocolate is as bad as I remember ...

  6. Wow, I thought I'd get a bunch of die-hard TJ's defenders telling me I shouldn't complain about a 99 cent advent calendar...but thanks for agreeing with me. I don't feel so guilty for writing this review now, lol!

  7. You'd think TJ's of all places could come up with a delicious adult advent calendar!

  8. We won one last year off the prize wheel they sometimes have near the door and it was nearly as bad as you describe. I believe we went so far as to say it was worse than Nestle or Tootsie Rolls (which we despise). I don't remember if we bothered to finish it.

  9. I am in love with Trader Joe's. As a celiac, it is incredibly difficult to find foods that are gluten free. When I do find a store with a vide variety of gluten free products, they are usually quite expensive. Trader Joe's has a wonderful and affordable selection. HOWEVER, at my local TJ's, these chocolates had signs of being a bit old.

  10. They sell a gingerbread man kit at Christmastime, and the cookie is equally revolting. I was quite disappointed when I bit into the big cookie. I wouldn't even let my son eat any. We fed it to my dad's pigs on his farm! I really would love a yummy all-natural gingerbread kit.

  11. What do you expect for $0.99? It's a novelty. Kinda like the gum you got when we collected baseball cards. We never chewed it, hell you'd crack a tooth..!
    Sounds like typical entitled, Northern Va. folks. Maybe you should get a nice Havarty cheese to go with all that Whine'.....:)

  12. http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/2653