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