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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Friday, June 1, 2012

Trader Joe's ¡Mango! ¡Mango!

Seeing as that Trader Joe's, despite their otherwise healthy-ish vibes, is basically a store jam-packed of all sorts of impulse buys just begging to happen, Sandy and I have made ourselves a pretty simple rule for shopping there. We're each allowed to pick out one snack or treat for ourselves (ideally, we'll share), and if we both behave and keep pretty close to our budget, at the checkout we'll pick out one snacky kinda thing to share for the ride home. I'm sure it sounds kinda silly to motivate ourselves to "be good" in a manner not unlike you'd motivate your toddler, but you know what? It works! Like a charm! I mean, we tend to go there for just our snacks and lunch stuff and the odd ingredient for a dinner (opting to hit up farmer markets for our produce, most of our meat, etc) so it'd be easy for us to get carried away, especially when walking down the ice cream and candy aisle, or as I call it, Temptation Lane. No matter. The stands by the checkouts have tended to have some pretty great finds, from a recent favorite of ours, a dark chocolate speculoos filled bar, which rivals only the caramel/black sea salt bar as the best chocolate slab God has ever bestowed upon humanity, to things like candied squishy penguins. We've almost always been happy with what we find there.

We've kept hearing how good TJ's ¡Mango! ¡Mango! fruit gummies are, and so finally recently relished the chance to give them a try at last. As you might be able to guess by the blue denim covering my wife's knee area that served as this week's photo backdrop, we didn't wait long after loading up the Tucson to bust them out. We love our gummies, and greatly enjoy almost anything Trader Joe's and mango related (like our favorite granola), so, man, we were eager.

And to be honest, the mango^2 chewy guys were a bit of a disappointment to us. That's not to say they were completely bad. First off, each gummy wasn't, in fact, all that gummy. Instead they were tougher, much chewier, and very firm, despite the packaging claiming that they were going to be soft. That's not necessarily horrible, but I think that the texture kind of added to the general lack of flavor. I don't need a cavity cavalry's worth of sugar to make something taste good, but mango can be (and in this case, is) a relatively subtle flavor, and so having to put a few good, hearty chomps before any flavor starts leaking out is not optimal. It wasn't just that, but in our bag of about 40 candies, only seven had any yogurt parts on them, and maybe that many had passion fruit on them too. That's just not enough, even though the ones that did were only marginally better.

Overall, both Sandy and I just weren't all that impressed, especially after our pretty good experience with those penguin-themed Gummy Tummies. I think Sandy was kinda hoping the ¡Mango! ¡Mango!s would be a bit more like them, as she said she wished these were softer and had a liquidy part to them to add a little more flavor. I agree, although I would have settled for a wee bit more mango-tinged goodness. They weren't bad overall, but we'll be looking for another treat next time at the checkout before we reach for 'em again. If you're a fan, that just means more for you. From here, though, we're gonna split things right down the middle.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's ¡Mango! ¡Mango!: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. Sad face, you got an old/bad pack for sure! I can hardly believe you wouldn't love these. I have never had any hard ones and I buy these all the time! You should try them again!

  2. I am a huge fan of mangoes--Trader Joe's staff has commented more than once "you must love mango" since I buy up everything with that fruit when I visit.

    That said, I've had these once before and marked them as just "good." I remember my bag being a majority of yogurt pieces, though. Your penguin gummy review has me curious to buy more gummies and do a comparison.

  3. I've never gotten hard mango gummies! I think you got a bad bag, which is too bad.

  4. I totally disagree with this review! All the pieces were soft and had an even coating of yogurt on candy itself. This is one of my favorite candies from Trader Joe's.