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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Monday, February 20, 2012

Trader Joe's Sesame Honey Almonds

Sonia loved these. I wasn't as thrilled. I love almonds. I love honey. And I feel fairly positive about sesame seeds. They work great on hamburger buns—the way Mickey D's does it. It's not overwhelming. I've had some buns from the grocery store, though, at summer barbecues and such that were simply riddled with sesame seeds. They don't have a particularly powerful taste, but when they band together in massive hordes, it's pretty hard to ignore them. Which isn't bad, except that they're usually eaten with something else—in the case of the hamburger bun, you're generally eating them: A) with a soft, white bread roll type baked good and B) with a nice big slab of dead cow or veggie patty or maybe chicken breast or something like that. Plus condiments and whatever else—my POINT being...you should taste the actual burger first in that case, and secondly taste the bread, and then maybe some mustard or ketchup—IF you taste the sesame seeds at all, it should be VERY subtle.

In this particular case, the sesame seeds are being eaten with almonds. In my opinion, almonds should be the "burger" of this snack, and the sesame seeds should always play second fiddle. They're just a little too sesame-ish to me. Again, I enjoy sesame seeds—but they're supposed to be...well, supporting cast members. Like Jay and Silent Bob. They make great background characters...characters that make cute, vulgar little cameos and then go away. In the case of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it's just way too much Jay and Silent Bob. They should stay in the background. Sesame seeds are similar. But in this case, I think they overstepped their bounds a bit. Sonia disagrees.

Maybe my slight aversion to sesame seeds comes from these little candies my parents used to give me all the time. I wasn't able to have sugar candies back then, due to food allergies and sensitivities. These candies came from the local health food store and they were basically just sesame seeds glued together into these hard-candy-esque little rectangular dealies. I think they were sweetened with honey. I'm not sure what held them in their rectangular shape. It couldn't have just been honey because they were hard. When I'd put one in my mouth, I'd taste the sweet honey flavor, and I wanted more, so I'd try and suck all the sweet out of it. But the sweet went away quickly, and all I'd taste would be a big glob of soggy sesame seed. I didn't waste the sesame seeds, I'd eat them. A year or two later, I eventually got sick of these candies and decided never to eat them again. I just kinda suddenly woke up one day with this extreme aversion to masses of sesame seeds in my mouth all at once. All that to say that I'm probably a bit biased against masses of sesame seeds.

And these almonds have masses of sesame seeds glued onto them with honey. If there were fewer sesame seeds, I would have rated these much higher. It's a really good idea...just maybe not so much for people who hate masses of sesame seeds. Again, I don't hate sesame seeds. Just multitudes of them. I don't like them when they gang up on me. Individually, and in limited doses, they're quite lovely. Sonia gives these Sesame Honey Almonds a 4.5, noting that they are her favorite TJ's food this year so far. She likes them because they're extremely filling, slightly sweet, and a good source of protein. I give them a 2.5. That makes this product our biggest scoring-discrepancy in a long time.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10 stars.


  1. I'm with Sonia on this one. Just tried these recently for the first time and loved them. I feel like I'm eating something healthy but the sweetness makes them feel like junk food. Nathan - I do think it's your childhood "candy" that's biased you against these tasty little morsels!

  2. I used to eat honey sesame seeds when I was a child. My mum would bring them back from Mexico. Can't wait try this.

  3. Nellie...hmmm, didn't realize these were popular in Mexico! afarrell...it's definitely a sweet tooth for sugary candy that's biased me against these, I won't argue with you on that...but it's not something from my childhood—unfortunately it's current...lol

  4. These are one of my wife and my Trader Joe's obsessions. We don't have a local store so when we travel to see her parents with a Joe's nearby, we stock up on these. Your sesame bias is definitely blinding you to this deliciousness.