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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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Trader Joe's Journey to the Center of the Cookie

Sandy and I gave up sweets for Lent this year, and let me tell you: it sucks. It's way more difficult than I imagined it'd be. A couple years ago, I gave up beer and alcohol. It really wasn't that bad, aside from a night or two when I had a passing hankerin' for a Yuengling. Last year, we gave up meat. Now, that was a little tougher, but it led me to discover all sorts of vegetarian goodies, so all good. But sweets? Man, I never realized it, but I count on those to get me through the day. It's easily the toughest of the three things I mentioned to give up. I think it's because of where and when all of them are socially acceptable. Drinking in a bar's okay, while it's not while working or driving. Meat's okay in your cubicle if your workplace has a lenient "food-at-desk" policy and in your vehicle if you don't mind dripping a turkey leg around everywhere, but it's not like you would keep a bag of bacon stashed away somewhere for constant snacking (unless you're more awesome than I am). Sweet sugary stuff? Acceptable everywhere except maybe the dentist chair or a diabetic convention. Candies and cookies and all that are just everywhere - you can't avoid them. I never thought it'd be so tough.

Fortunately, we ascribe to the practice that on Sundays you can take a break from your Lenten fast. Count the days up from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday and subtract the Sundays - it equals 40 days. That's why on Sunday, Sandy and I had peanut butter Oreos not once but twice before lunch, plotted a late night Rita's Italian Ice trip, and in between, when we stopped at Trader Joe's for our weekly grocery haul, we just knew we had to get these Journey to the Center of the Cookie(s) to get our chocolate fix in while we could.

Yeah, we're bad, but these cookies certainly aren't. In fact, they're pretty fantastic despite being such a basic product in the freezer section. All it takes is about 10 minutes in the oven to turn these tundrafied cookie pucks into warm, soft, chewy, gooey, oozey chocolate chip cookies with a lake of milk chocolate in the middle spilling all over the cookie and into your mouth. Oh goodness - so good. If you're familiar with the Nestle Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies (the best in my opinion), the cookie portion is a dead ringer for them. Sandy and I ate at least the first few bites of ours with a fork (calling to mind a classic Seinfeld episode) since they were so gooey and melty. These would be perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice ream, which we unfortunately didn't have. These cookies are large, soft, delicious, and after a week of being self-deprive of chocolate, simply hit the spot.

"I really can't think of any way these could be any better," Sandy said. I agree. The only negative I can think of are the nutritional facts (avert your eyes! - sorry it's so blurry, that's not intentional), which let's face it, these are certainly not an everyday kinda treat anyways. If you're gonna spoil yourself for a day, you gotta go whole hog. Also, at $2.99 a pair, they're not exactly overpriced, but not cheap either. With a little ice cream, though, just one of these cookies makes a good shareable dessert for two, I'd think. unless you and your dessert buddy are chocaholics. That may become an issue. Perhaps it's because of the lack of sweets from much of the week, but Sandy went ahead and gave these bad boys a perfect five? Me? I'm tempted but objectively, to me, they're not quite pantheon level. That doesn't mean I can't put these journey cookies on the doorstep of greatness.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Journey to the Center of the Cookie: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Oh my god! This looks like what they would serve in Heaven.

  2. We ate these on Sunday too! They were the best frozen dessert I've ever had from TJs. I like to dunk warm chocolate chip cookies in milk so I put this bad boy in a ramekin with a little milk... divine!

  3. I don't remember them from last year, and since you're restricting sweets these days you might have missed them, but the Milk Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Eggs are AMAZING. If you love Reese's but love real peanut butter flavor more, these are the springtime sweets for you. I highly recommend them for next Sunday!

    1. Must...resist...immediate...search....:)

  4. I was just there yesterday! After the near death experiences (more than one, no kidding)in the parking lot, THIS would have been a fabulous reward for making it out alive! It sounds as if these are worth the risk of life and limb should I go back today.

  5. This chocaholic thinks Sandy is on point with this one. These are unreal and completely addictive. I'm already on my third pack, and with 40 grams of sugar per cookie, that's not pretty. My advice: just don't start. ;)

  6. These are evidence that God loves and wants us to be happy. Yay for Sundays in Lent!

  7. A prescription medicine I'm taking has actually managed to kill my sweet tooth (boo, hiss!), but reading about these treats is actually making me salivate. I don't recall seeing them at my local TJs, but I'm headed there tomorrow, so will seek them out!

  8. That sounds delicious. Now I want a cookie.

  9. I just discovered this blog and first of all I want to thank you for recommending the Dark Chocolate with Caramel and Black Sea Salt...OMG so amazingly good! And these look delicious too, I must try them!

  10. Shared one of these with vanilla ice cream last night, found your blog this morning. I rate them a 10+++++!!!

  11. I love these cookies warmed, with vanilla ice cream on top. They are heavenly. Unfortunately, T.J.'s DISCONTINUED THEM! AHHH!! It is SO annoying how, whenever they have some amazing product they have gotten me addicted to, they stop carrying it! They care more about keeping the prices low than about keeping people stocked up on their favorite products. Given T. J.'s often carries other brands with their own label on it, does anyone know if this cookie can be purchased under another name?