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 2, 2012

Trader Joe's Roasted Plantain Chips

I like how certain types of food can remind one of particular times or places, Whether it's a slice of good pizza that makes you think of that place in Brooklyn or Chicago, a good crab cake that brings to mind Baltimore, or for me, Ramen noodles (or anything like them on the rare occasions I still eat them) reminding me of malnourished collegiate days gone by, it's just a cool thing that food easily does to tie things together and connect them.

Whenever I have anything with plantains, I think immediately of my trip back in '03 to the dry coastal region of Peru for a college missions trip. Literally every morning we had fried plantains for breakfast (along with healthy doses of Inca Kola, which if you're not familiar with it, looks like Mountain Dew and tastes like Bazooka Joe), which you think would get old but surprisingly didn't. I loved it, and I've tried and failed miserably several times since to make them Peruvian style at home. Still, when I do, I like to think of the week I spent getting my butt handed to me by a bunch of 10-year old futbolistos on the hard soccer courts and teaching them all sorts of English words, up to and including "poop."

Anyways, when I saw a tall bag of Trader Joe's Roasted Plantain Chips for $1.69, I figured they were worth a munch and crunch. I knew they wouldn't replace my long-gone Peruvian pleasures (after all, those were more plank-like while these are chips), but hey, you do what you can. And you know what? They're pretty decent. If you're not familiar with plantains, think of them as kinda starchier, semi-potatoey bananas. That's about the best explanation I got. The texture of them still comes across well even after being fried in sunflower oil - think banana chips but less waxy with a softer crunch, like if they got crossed with a ruffled potato chip. Tastewise, they're more or less on the money. The chips definitely taste a little roasty, a little nutty, a little earthy, and also a little saltier then I'd think by glancing at the nutritional rundown. And really, just a regular handful of them go a long ways towards satisfying a rumbly in the tumbly. I've had other plantain chips that seemed more potato chip like than these guys, so I guess the TJ plantains are a little truer than most, which I appreciate.

Sandy's not quite as enamored with them as I am. She took a small handful and chomped them down, but afterwards said something to the effect of general indifference towards them. "I mean, I'd eat them if they were around, but give me a choice between these and potato chips, I'd take the regular chips," she said. She's going with a three. Me? I like them, they make a great on-the-sly office cubicle snack (especially if you work in an office with at least one rampant lunch thief, like my workplace*), and I'll give them extra credit for the lemur on the package and the fact that these were made in Peru. It's probably a notch or two high, but dangit, these get a 4.5 from me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Roasted Plantain Chips: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
*Someone seriously stole my homemade chili for which my niece gave me the mix for my Christmas present. Seriously, wtf? I'll take the high road and assume they needed food more than I do, but still, I think they should get one of these.


  1. Nice! Always looking for something other than potato chips to get a nice crunchy snack for the family. I will get some of these. I have had some in the past from other manufacturers and they can range from oily to salty to sweet to thick to thin. Hopefully these are a nice balance.


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  2. I haven't tried these yet. They sound interesting. I will let you know what I think.
    Susan Cooper

  3. I just bought a new item today that I have fallen in love with already, and that is the Falafel Chips. You guys should give them a try! I'm eating them plain, but they would be excellent dipped in some tahini or tzatziki, or anything really. I think I've found my new favorite snack, but these roasted plantain chips look pretty awesome, too.

  4. I have to disagree with you about these. I searched all over for plantain chips and was very excited to find these. Unfortunately they were a big let down. All I tasted was salt. The salt completely overwhelmed the plantains and I couldn't taste them at all. Instead I've been buying the vacuum-fried banana chips that are unsalted.

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  6. Just wanted to say that I am loving your blog! I relocated to the Bay area from NC in June and instantly fell in love with Trader Joe's. I am making a special effort to try something new each week, even though I have found items that I want to purchase over and over. I've been using your blog to get reviews on items I'm considering or ideas for new things to give a shot. I started a little Tumblr blog when I moved to chronicle my experiences and adventures for my friends and family back on the east coast. I often mention Trader Joe's and gave your blog a shout out in my most recent post. Thanks! http://stephaniesink.tumblr.com/

  7. I have had plantain chips similat to these only they were honey roasted...extremely good. My wife and I purcheased them at the Trader Joe's in Indianapolis. We were back in Indy and they no longer carry the honey roasted plantains, only the salted/nonsalted. PLEASE I am begging anyone who knows where I can get some honey roasted plantain chips to please tell me. My wife will be extactic if we can find some. Thanks

  8. how about trying this product in Brazil , i think it will make a difference. Thats what i am doing at the moment.

  9. I have been repulsed by bananas my entire life - to the point that I believe it is abhorrant for people to eat them in public and will leave the room if I am faced with someone eating one. Imagine my UTTER surprise to find that I love these chips! They have no banana flavor at all. The texture is the best potato chip I have had. I bought three bags at TJ last night.

  10. My co worker introduced me to these chips and I LOVE them! By far the best chips I have ever tasted.

  11. Tried plantain chips for the first time at the Columbia restaurant in St. Augustine, FL on vacation. Loved 'em! After I'd returned to New England, I stopped by our TJ in Nashua and discovered them there. Just as good! Shared them with my kids and grandkids who were equally impressed. I don't remember if they're any better for you than other chips, but they're definitely my preference from now on.

  12. Another user mentioned they taste like salt I completely agree I was disappointed with these

  13. Hi everyone, it is sad to hear these comments that some of you did not like the taste of Plantain Chips. I will Explain the main reason behind why the taste is not as good if you where to eat it in a tropical country. All of the Plantain Chips we eat here in USA are imported meaning when they get exported from the manufacturer which is in another country they get sent in containers and this is where it starts decomposing even though they are tight sealed that is not also done right. So by the time it arrives here the flavor, freshness & crunchiness is not the same. I'm originally from Ecuador and this is a staple snack in my country I remember eating this since I was very young. I also too was disappointed of several plantain chips companies that where sold here in the States and this is when I said to myself "I really have to do something about this". The main reason is that is not manufacture here in the states. I decided to make my own manufacturing plantain chips plant here in Long Island, NY. Fast forward till today and we are proud to announce that our company name is HOyo's Plantain Chips by Hoyos Foods Inc. We are proud to say that our whole process is Made in USA and we are the first company to do this 100% process in the states meaning from the peeling, frying and packaging; remember I said something about not dealing it properly? Companies in other countries do not seal the bags with Hydrogen of which this is what big companies use in its bags to keep freshness and taste. We will do this process also here. Look for us at Hoyosfoods.com or ask at your local supermarket. We will begin our production the beginning of the new year. Our promise to our customers is to provide a quality selected snack Made in USA.