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, December 21, 2011

Trader Joe's Organic Popping Corn

Every year at the holidays, it's the same. My mom and dad go all out in making and prepping quadruple batches of probably ten different kinds of cookies, homemade bread, pies, and other assorted treats (like Swedish tea ring for Christmas breakfast) just so when my siblings and I descend on their house for a crammed chaotic weekend of food and festivities, not a single one of us would have to face the horror of going more than five minutes without having one of our favorite treats more than an arm length away. I love it for more reasons than it being great homemade food. It's how my folks show their love, of course, and naturally we can make a few good-natured jokes at their expense, like how when they put out platters of cookies on the shelf with their pictures of all their grandbabies, that was their "cookie offering" at the "grandkid shrine." All of us laughing and enjoying each other with some good food - no matter which holiday you celebrate, and whether more secular or religious, and no matter who you celebrate it with, that just may be the very best part.

Strangely enough, though, despite all the homemade cookies and cakes and treats, there always has to be homemade Chex mix there. Always, or it seems a little off, to the point where upon realization one of us will spring into action to make it right away. I don't know if it's the contrasting crunchiness or saltiness against all the sugary delights my family makes, but Chex mix, while certainly not the star of the show, has its own important place amongst everything else.

That's kinda how I also feel about popcorn, more specifically, the non-microwaved non movie-theatered butter-blasted super salty lipid explosion Reddenbacher stuff. Although I like that stuff too, its the simple stovetop variety I like the best. For this, of course, you need good popcorn kernels to start with, so with that in mind, once Sandy and I spotted Trader Joe's Organic Popping Corn, we knew we ought to fire it up and give it a try.

I tell ya what: it works well. Really, really well, actually. The corn pops up fairly quickly in a little olive oil and makes big, fluffy popcorn guys that have the needed munch and crunch while still being a little Styrofoamy. Perfect. In the couple times we've made it, there's been a good popped to unpopped ratio of kernels (probably at least 9.5:1) which I can't always say about other brands...there was this one jar we bought once, can't remember which one, but it was nearly 50/50. That's unacceptable. Sandy loves burnt kernels and all, but there's only so much that should be there before you begin feeling a little cheated. TJ's popcorn was just about spot on. Naturally, it works well with whatever kind of seasoning we choose to go with - whether prepped with some chipotle olive oil or some piri-piri sauce we still have from our Portuguese honeymoon, or a little butter and garlic salt once popped, or even just plain. That's another good reason to go with homemade popcorn - you can control what it tastes like and how good or bad it'll be for you.

I don't recall what the cost is, but it's fairly inexpensive, probably around $2 or $3 for bag that'll last a long while. Fearing it'd be a one-and-done sighting like one or two of my other favorite TJ treats, we bought this bagged corn-ucopia of fluffy yumminess a while back right after we just opened a different bag of corn kernels, so we had to wait to crack this one open. It was well worth it, and glad to say, I've still seen it every trip since. The only semi-negative thing I can say about it is, some of the kernels pop so quick that by the time the rest of them pop, they can be a little burned. Those are the ones Sandy goes for, though, and there's plenty enough of unblemished bits to go around. I'm not sure how to interpret the "organic" part of the product except to suppose that, potentially unlike other brands, the corn isn't turbo-blasted with chemicals and popcorn steroids to make the biggest, fluffiest ones possible. That's probably a good thing, and Trader Joe's popping corn does well enough without any of that. Well enough to get dueling 4.5s from the Mrs. and me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Popping Corn: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

7 comments:

  1. Nice detail in your review of this item. I recently kicked myself because I bought some generic safeway kernels assuming TJ didn't sell them and when going across the street for part 2 of my shopping saw them. I'm a hot air popper so hopefully the quality will be there in that method. I think the price was 1/2 of the safeway cost at my TJ, $2.49, though the safeway ones come in a nicer container with a lid (which I will save to use for the TJ ones when I'm done).

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  2. From http://goo.gl/T8ifU



    What is Organic?

    Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods. These methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

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  4. We bought this based on my seeing this review. I wasn't all that blown away, though my DH (who is much more of a TJs fan than I) said it tasted really good & 'corn-y.' I thought the popped corn was somewhat more soggy than other more mainstream or specialty brands we buy. And he likes the widows, so having only a few wasn't that big a plus. :)

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  5. Sounds tasty, but I will be sticking to my usual corn.

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  6. Love this popcorn. Once you taste it you will never go back to that butter soggy stuff. it tastes natural and the kernals pop to a lovely white and fluffy cloud :-)

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