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, February 23, 2012

Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings

Ah, junk food. You and I, we go back a long ways. You know how it is. You're easy, cheap, convenient, and although really not all that satisfying, you do just enough to keep me coming back for more, as much as I try to resist.

Lucky for me, even though Trader Joe's has lots of great, healthy items, there's lots of junky goodies all over the store. Lots of impulsive-buy type stuff. But some of them, while still not great for you, provide an at least semi-healthier alternative than the items they emulate, like these crunchy spicy cheesy guys. And these, Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings, too.

Yeah, the obvious comparison for these baked o-rings is that omnipresent vending machine bag o' Funyuns. I'll admit it, every once in a great while, they're one of my vices. Truth be told, these Trader Joe imitators are pretty similar in texture and crunch overall. I'd imagine that they're made in much of the same process except that a little rice flour gets mixed in for a some added lightness and then, obviously, they're baked instead of fried. That part matters not, the TJ's rings still have all the bite and crunch necessary, and also makes them a smidge healthier. Or at least I tell that to myself. It's the other things where the two competitors part ways. Where Funyuns are a greasy, salty dustfest waiting to muck up your fingertips, the Trader Joe's ones have much less stuff on them. Sure, your digits won't come out of the encounter without needing a little attention, but not as much. Also, the TJ's try to emphasize the certain levels of sweetness some onions like vidalia ones can have, and so they up the sweetness while comparatively scaling back on the garlic and sodium, although, yes, there's plenty enough of that too. I can hear the salt police about it from here - "Too much! Toooo muuuuuch!" Well, to them I say, you're not gonna eat these anyways, and leave me alone.

Overall, I gotta say I like these better than Funyuns, I think. It's not that they're even all that overly good, but I munch on one or two, and it takes a little willpower to remove myself. These aren't my favorite TJ trigger food, or even my favorite ring-shaped onion product, but in the right time and circumstance, yeah, I could put a fair amount of these down.

Both Sandy and I munched on these as a pseudo-appetizer while making one of our favorite dinners the other night. I don't have a problem with that, and I'm pretty sure I can refrain from eating all of them myself. For under $2 a bag, they can be in the house every once in a while as an alternative to our usual chip and salsa-style snacking. Sandy was munching on these just as eagerly (if not slightly more so) than I was. "I'll give them a three, three and a half, maybe," she said. "I'd give them a little higher if they had just a little more taste to them." Indeed, they are much more subtle than the competition, but I think it's to their credit, so I'm rounding up for her and giving these a four of my own.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Baked Onion Rings: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

14 comments:

  1. These are one of my favorite junk food items. When I first tried them, I was not a fan, but eventually, they won over my taste buds. I have a sweet tooth, and if there's nothing sugary in the house, this will satisfy it to some extent.

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  2. I tried these, not bad at all... surprisingly...

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  3. my bad, thought these were the beer battered one... have u tried those? they're good and have a crisp batter

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  4. These are gluten free?! Yay! Getting them... :)

    Christina
    http://becauseofmadalene.blogspot.com/

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    1. Yup! Gluten is apparently way overrated :)

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  5. These look to be vegan, is that right?

    Great blog, by the way!

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    1. Vegan indeed! I should update the tag..thanks!

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  6. I just found you! I have a Facebook page for fans of our local Trader Joes. It just opened in the fall and the group loves having the forum. I'm going to tell them about you! On Facebook we're under Trader Joes Fans South Hills. That's in Pittsburgh! Be well and thanks for the reviews.

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    1. Yeah Pittsburgh! My wife and I live in the East End and do our shopping at the East Lib shop, although we've been to the South hills store too (very nice with wide aisles!). Too many bridges and tunnels to go there on a regular basis, though. Let's go Bucs!

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  7. I just bought these today out of curiosity because it's such a great idea to go to TJ after the gym!

    These little onion snacks are delicious! More so than I had originally thought. Thanks for your review! :) Very thorough! I'd give it 4 stars as well :)

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  8. I tried these yesterday with some of my friends. I don't think they are that great in the long run.. and two hours later I had a huge stomach ache. They are a bit to sweet, a bit to fake, but horribly addicting during the time of eating. I'd buy them again if I was going to a party or something social, but probably not for a small group of friends.

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  9. These are awesome, but a little inconsistent. The first bag we bought was very flavorful, the second - quite subtle, and the third - back to flavorful. We find that on the good bags, we can't put them down. I'd say they're worth picking up and giving a second look-see. :)

    Love this blog, btw. I would kill for a list of your 10 spoon items so I can prioritize my shopping experiments. :D

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  10. Oh, these are good. Just tried for the first time last night, and they went down quite easily with a cold beer. I think they will be invited back!

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