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, March 19, 2012

Trader Joe's Shredded Hash Browns

Irish people are into potatoes, right? Or at least they grow potatoes in Ireland I think. So it's kinda fitting that we review some kind of potato item around St. Patrick's Day weekend, right?

I've never been into hash browns or potato tots or anything super potatoey—except fries. (Although I must admit TJ's potato snacks are tasty). Even chips aren't my favorite...unless they're super saturated with sour cream and onion or barbecue sauce flavor. I'll eat a baked potato now and again because they're sorta good for you (until you slather them with sour cream, butter, and salt) but overall, I'm rarely in the mood for actual potato flavor.

For breakfast yesterday morning, Sonia cooked up a nice, tasty omelette and these hash browns. Just as I was about to dump salt, pepper, and hot sauce on them, I hesitated for a moment. Perhaps one of my Scotch-Irish ancestors whispered in my ear..."taaaaste the potatoes..." So I did. I ate them plain. Although, my Scotch-Irish ancestors would have been Protestant and loyal to Britain, not Catholic and loyal to Ireland, and would probably not have celebrated St. Patrick's Day nor held any sort of national pride associated with potatoes or potato products. But who cares, anyway? Irish people are cool and potatoes are a staple here in the States, too.

The only ingredients in this bag are potatoes and dextrose. Apparently dextrose is basically the same thing as glucose. Personally, I'd rather see "glucose" on the ingredients list, because I have a pretty decent idea what that is. Why we need dextrose or glucose in our hash browns, I'm not quite sure. But considering those are the ONLY two ingredients, I'm not going to complain a whole lot. They tasted very natural to me...and surprisingly flavorful even without salt or anything. (I did eventually put some hot sauce on them. Hot sauce makes everything better). But I could have eaten the whole serving plain.

Sonia said the opposite. She thinks the Crystal Farms Simply Potatoes that we get from Target on occasion taste more fresh and natural than these. To tell you the truth, I think I like TJ's a bit better, even though they come frozen, and Crystal Farms just come refrigerated. But anyway, I think it's time for last looks. I'm gonna give 'em a 3.5 out of 5. Not bad for someone who's not into plain potato products. Sonia gives them a 2.5. She thinks if Target can beat TJ's, that TJ's just has to work a little harder. But what are they going to do? Add more dextrose?

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.


  1. I am not Irish, but I love the hell out of a potato. I never had one I didn't like.

  2. Lol! Then you'd probably like these, Nellie :)

  3. Dextrose is just another form of glucose.

    Some food packagers like to use "dextrose" on their packaging instead of "glucose" because they believe that people have negative associations with glucose.

    Also...I gotta try these babies sometime!

  4. Sadly the reason you could have eaten the entire thing was because of the sugar i.e. dextrose. Why do they have to have it in it? Get some potatoes shred them, and poof you have hashbrowns..minus the addictive sugar that is. :)