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?"

Search This Blog

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trader Joe's Uncrystallized Candied Ginger

There's definitely some foods in the world that can be easily filed under "acquired taste." I think that drinks like coffee and beer are pretty common ones. Indeed, I hated both beverages for probably the first couple dozen times I had them, and now I've gotten to the point where they bookend my day at least half the time. All in moderaton, of course. Also, as a kid, I hated burgers, which is definitely not the case now. I'm not sure, but there might be such a thing as an "un-acquired taste." Case in point: I used to thrive on spicy foods to the point where a semi-bashful waitress at a Thai restaurant once told me she'd never seen a white person eat as spicy food as I did. I took that as a huge compliment. Now, I haven't completely taken up a full time BRAT diet by any means, but there's times I catch myself checking how many shakes of hot sauce I pour on my food. Me from 10 years ago would be mocking me now. I guess that's just part of getting older, along with mortgages and emerging bald spots.

What does this have to do with Trader Joe's Uncrystallized Candied Ginger? Admittedly, not that much. C'mon, you've learned to expect that from us now. But, I guess that ginger is one of those other acquired tastes as well. I thought I knew more or less what ginger tasted like growing up before knowing much better - ginger ale, gingerbread cookies, the occasional ginger snap, other ginger-tinged goodies. Ginger candy is something newer for me, but I got some that I really liked at the 99 Ranch in San Diego, and those were much more intense than what I was used to.

These TJ guys, though? Like Tufnel Marshall's amp, these go to eleven. Seriously. Short of hacking off a chunk of actual ginger root and chomping directly down on it, I can't imagine a more intense ginger flavor. Each piece is soft and chewy, kinda like dried pineapple except a little softer in that regard. If you bite a piece in half you'll see there's still some fiber-y stringy insides, but they're not noticeable otherwise. For flavor, each candied ginger piece starts off kinda mild and sorta sweet taste from the light dusty sugar coating, but quickly morphs into an all out ginger blitz that sets the back of your throat aflame. That's even after just one piece. That "sweet and smooth" tagline TJ's puts under the product name? I think that's their attempt to generally describe most gingers like myself and Nathan (both of us redheads, and we're both definitely sweet and smooth - just ask our wives! *cough*) and certainly not these candies - I couldn't think of two words that I'd wouldn't use more than those. Overzealous and napalm-esque? Sure. Sweet and smooth? Heck no.

Sandy absolutely hated these. We cracked a bag open on our recent road trip. After one bite, in my peripheral vision, I saw her make a face like I just forcefed her a meatloaf muffin. "Blahhh," she said. "Enjoy your ginger candy, ginger boy." She slightly changed her tune later and said she could imagine having some of these if she were feeling a little ill in the tummy, and for that reason only, she'll grace them with a one. To me, it's kinda funny she said that, because I swear each time I try them, my stomach feels a little off afterwards. Not sick, but not all that happy either. Yet, kinda like something that hurts only when you poke it, I keep trying them. I don't completely hate them, but it'll be a struggle to finish the bag nonetheless. I might try to return them, but seeing as though they cost only about $2 and I've had about half of them, I might not. I can imagine some of y'all like them, but for me, not so much. I think I'll go with a one as well. All out ginger assault is one taste that's far beyond me at this point.


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Uncrystallized Candied Ginger: 2 out of 10 Golden Spoons

16 comments:

  1. We were out of these at our store for a couple of months and people would call the store daily to see if they finally came back in. Many customers are fanatical about these, and buy them ten at a time. I agree with you, Nathan, not my cup of tea!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love candied ginger and can eat a bag in one sitting. If you are challenged to use your leftovers, this salad is an excellent use of ginger: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/ginger-jeweled-salad-recipe.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. i'm addicted to the ginger people's ginger chews but even these were a bit strong for me. however, they went really well in a lemon ginger bread pudding i made:

    http://theactorsdiet.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/what-would-liz-lemon-do/

    ReplyDelete
  5. I thought I liked candied ginger, but I guess I was wrong. Blech. I bought 'em for a cookie recipe calling for ginger in powdered, fresh and candied form, so maybe it would be tolerable there. Not sure I want to risk ruining a whole batch of dough to find out.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I fall in the fanboy category, it's kinda like the McRib of TJ's. I went to get some the other day and they were out and when I was i nthe checkout I saw a women purchasing 10 bags. 10 BAGS!!!! Honest to goodness all for herself. I gave her the stink eye.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like them, but then I've always enjoyed crystalized ginger, ginger in syrup, pickled ginger and the hotter the better. On the whole the ginger is medium in heat but once in a while a hot piece wacks the mouth - yum!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love them! I do not like the crystalized, over-sugared version. These are just like the ones I used to buy at a Chinese market and when I moved, I was so sad that I wouldn't be able to get them anymore. The strong ginger flavor, by the way, means they are using super fresh ginger, not last years stored bland ginger. I get it, not everyone likes ginger, though. They are strong.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Even if you don't like the TJ's Candied Ginger, I recommend trying the Ginger Chews by Ginger People. They are AMAZING! They give you the sweet/hot/smooth ginger taste without the floral notes and are the consistency of Tootsie Roll. Yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Took one bite and spit it out....it was offensive, to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Trader Joe's trumps Ginger People for me. Great price, so fresh, and less sugar. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Honestly I had no idea people ate candied ginger as is. I've always used it as an ingredient in baked goods. Nice thing about this candied ginger is it is softer than crystallized candied ginger, which is nice for ginger snaps and bread recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Like K, I consider this product to be an ingredient, not something for snacking on its own. That's why I'm surprised they stock it with the dried fruits & trail mixes, rather than the baking supplies! But it's still better and less expensive than my other local source for candied ginger (a local bulk store). (That said, I will occasionally eat one by itself, but usually if I'm chopping some up for another purpose.)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Is this the product at TJ's that was just identified as potentially having lead in it?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_23149846/ginger-plum-candies-tainted-lawsuit-alleges?source=inthenews

    ReplyDelete
  15. I saw the articles about possible lead in this product...which is a shame because I'm one of the fanatical ones who got a little panicky when TJs was out of it for a few months. As much as I love this stuff I actually dislike crystallized candied ginger and TJs is the only place I've ever seen uncrystallized. Anyway, I eat it straight and by the bagful. Om nom nom...

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have a few of these a day as a snack, maybe 4 pieces. Bag says 6 servings but it's at least 20 for me. Not great, not bad.

    ReplyDelete