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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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trader Joe's Oriental Rice Crackers

It's been a while since I've complained about the name of a Trader Joe's product. But this one affords me a golden opportunity to do so. Not Trader Joe-San? Not Trader Ming?  Perhaps the lack of an ethnic name stems from the fact that no single nationality lends itself to these crunchable little ricey puffs.

The good people at Trader Joe's, no doubt assuming that all Eastern peoples enjoy crisp ricey puff things, went with a name that suggested the entire continent of Asia. Not "Asian," of course, but "Oriental." I thought we had left that term behind in the 90's, but Trader Joe's has resurrected it successfully with these intriguing, snaxcellent morsels. Makes you wonder if TJ's will ever offer us a hot dog-ish meal or something entitled "Trader Joe's Occidental Meat Sticks."

The Rice Crackers are ultra-crispy. They taste like rice. Which, to me, is good. I like rice-based foods that taste like rice—because I enjoy the taste of rice. And yet, it's not just the taste of rice in these snacks. There's some kind of toastiness. And some kind of moderate spiciness in certain ones. And my favorites are the ones wrapped in seaweed. Yep. Some of these rice-snacks are wrapped in a bit of seaweed tasting very much like TJ's famous Seaweed Snacks. I'm not sure whether I like rice or seaweed better....hmmm....rice. No seaweed. No rice. I've just achieved the record for the greatest number of uses of the word "rice" in any What's Good at Trader Joe's paragraph ever. 10 times. Sonia, get Guinness on the phone!

Anyhoo, they're good—if you like rice and seaweed. Highly snackable, fun little shapes. They have a unique, yet somehow strangely predictable taste. I knew what they would taste like before I put them in my mouth. Which makes me think I've eaten something similar in the past. But my mind is shot these days...and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. Sorry.

Sonia says they remind her a bit of Corn Nuts. Maybe a little. That wasn't what I was thinking of. But I can see that.

Sonia gives them 3.5 stars. I'll give 'em 4.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 stars.


  1. The word oriental is only offensive if used to describe a person. Food and rugs are still okay.