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, October 17, 2012

Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas

I'll admit it, I wasn't eager to try out Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas. It has nothing to do with the terrible reach for a pun for the name, either. It's just that, normally speaking, if I were to be in the mood for something crispy and vegetably-inspired, why not eat, I don't know, any actual vegetable?  I mean, that's an ideal to strive for, to hunger for fresh produce instead of some pseudo-wanna be-potato chip-type thing, and one I'll freely admit to falling short of quite often. That doesn't change my position, though. Not only that, but with just an exception or two, I have not been a fan of most of TJ's crunchy vegetable snackies - I mean, one of them tastes like a stale McDonald's fry, for goodness' sake. Semirelatedly, I flat out refuse to try their seaweed snacks (wasabified or not) because just the name brings back some bad memories of Japanese rice cracker/seaweed snack my dad liked when I was growing up. Nearly made me upchuck every time.

Sandy, though? I'm not sure how artfully my photo hides the large gaping gash at the top of the package where she eagerly and ravenously ripped it open in anticipation of all the little munchy green pea sticks inside. I mean, girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, I guess, but let me take a proper picture first. I guess by that, she's just demonstrating how far up her alley a snack like this is. Maybe she just couldn't have her inner peace until she had her Inner Peas. Great, now I'm making bad puns, too.

As far as the snackety snack goes, I am neither appalled by them, nor am I overly enamored, either. To me, an Inner Pea just tastes like a crunchy, semi-Styrofoamy stick that tastes a little salty, slightly oily, and however slightly reminiscent of a pea. And believe me, I can definitely tell when something's made from rice flour, as it usually tastes a little off to me. There's no mistake here - they're ricey, and for all that, gluten still sneaks in somewhere. Aside from that, if you told me these were mummified green beans, I'd probably believe it. Maybe that's your kinda thing. Maybe you use them as a dipstick for some good hummus, and that's probably a half-decent idea I wish I would have considered before these al disappeared. By themselves, though, they're kinda nondescript and while "bland" is not the right word, "flavorful" certainly isn't, either. They're just kinda...there. Maybe, for my palate they're just too contemplative and peasfull...dang, another one...sorry!

Sandy might like them a little more, but she's not exactly bowled over, either. "They're not great, but they're not bad either," she said. Based on her aforementioned eagerness, that almost sounded like a slight indictment to me, so I was a little surprised when she gave them a 3.5 rating. Sandy did, however, add that she'd probably like them more if they were in a salad or something of the sort. Me? I'm willing to allow for the fact that the pea sticks just aren't my kinda thing, so I'd be willing to be slightly more generous if not for my wife's rather muted reaction. I don't know, I'll say a 2.5 from me. I'm at peas with that.

Okay, I'm just gonna leave now.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Contemplates...Inner Peas: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


10 comments:

  1. I was surprised to see these in my local TJs - I thought they were a rebranded version of the Snapea Crisps that TJs used to sell, made a bit fancier (ooooh "air-dried" green peas). But I checked, and the first ingredient in "real" Snapeas is...peas, not cornmeal. On the other hand, they're a bit less expensive than the name brand - and my kid likes them (heads up - they're really easy for little kids to eat and in my head these *are* more kid food that I steal bites of) so maybe based on this review I'll grab a bag for her next time. Love your blog!

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  2. Huh. Now I know why I cannot find Snapea Crisps at TJ's anymore.

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  3. I just purchased Inner Peas expecting it to taste the same as Snapea Crisps, but NO, not remotely. I,too, noticed cornmeal as an ingredient but couldn't remember what corn ingredient Snapeas had (it's corn oil, not corn meal). The corn meal makes it heavy and devoid of deliciousness, as it obliterates the light, sweet taste of the pea. The fact that it also has rice flour on the ingredient list does not undo the damage.

    Nice try, but no cigar.

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  4. Agree with Mary M.

    We were huge fans of Snapea Crisps (made by Calbee) and have been buying them from the Bellingham (WA) TJ by the bagfuls for awhile now. TJ price = US$1.49. Our local Vancouver price = approx. Cdn$4-6 depending on which store. So a no-brainer.

    But the recent new Inner Peas substitute just doesn't cut it. The cornmeal being the primary ingredient makes it heavier and mushier texturally, and the green peas taste is lost now that it's the third ingredient. Whereas Calbee's Snapea is the real McCoy:

    http://www.snacksalad.com/products.html

    Sorry TJ, but your Inner Peas don't bring me inner ..... peace.

    BTW: my very 1st post here, been a longtime lurker :-)

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  5. I love the Inner Peas! I'm highly addicted to them!!

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  6. When my sister suggested these to me, I looked at the bag and thought "gross." But, I was pleasantly surprised. They are a nice snack, and you get a good portion size for the calories.

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  7. I just tried them for the first time yesterday evening and liked their light flavor and crunchy texture. Have they changed the ingredients? There is no cornmeal in my bag o' Inner Peas -- just peas, canola oil, rice and salt mainly. My kind of snack!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, they changed the ingredients. On the Trader Joe's website, they mention that they reformulated the product: http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=1187

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  8. No cornmeal in mine either - and the packaging is different than the picture. I do like these! And with about 50% of the daily fiber recommendation and 455 cal for the whole bag, I'm sold :). (So, 25% fiber for half bag - at about 227 cal).

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  9. Hi, what's your take on the "Trader Joe's doesn't use GMO ingredients"? Those Calbee snacks are not Non-GMO, and I'm not sure that there are any manufacturers of those pea crisps that are not certified free of GMO's... So, I assume they use the GMO Calbee snacks.

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