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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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Trader Joe's Kale Chips

There's quite a buzz about these on the interwebs. And no wonder! They're really weird! These aren't the first snacky-veggies TJ's has offered us, but they might be the best. Check out past posts: Inner PeasVeggie Sticks and Seaweed Snacks.

These things are packaged like they're some kind of comic book superheroes. I suppose they're super-snacks. And...they're not "chips," at least not in any traditional sense of the word. But I guess 
"Leafy Green Kale Chunks" just doesn't have the sexy rockstar appeal of "chips." But I mean, they're sort of dry-ish leaves of kale. It's like somebody left out a salad—dressing and all, in a dehydrator somewhere, forgot about it, then re-discovered it a couple days later and decided to eat it anyway. Maybe that's where the superhero theme comes in. This snack was left to dry out and die via nuclear radiation, but instead of dying, it just became an ultra-powered, transcendent mega-meal.

I don't know. But man, the dehydrated salad idea simply doesn't convey how good these are. The nacho flavored dressing is like a really high-quality southwest salad dressing...but dry. And I swear I feel energized when I eat these. They have all kinds of vitamins and minerals. They are super-scrump-dilly. And just so...peculiar!


Let me put it this way: when the extraterrestrial overlords show up and try to incorporate parts of their culture into ours, I wouldn't be surprised if they have us snacking on this stuff. Let's just hope that with their advanced technologies and vast eons of wisdom and experience that they can find a way to bring the cost down. Like way down. Like the $4 a bag price tag on these things is totally their biggest weakness, their kryptonite, if you will. I'd eat these every day if they cost a buck a bag. They make me happy.

4.5 stars from me. Woulda had 5 if they were a tad less expensive. Sonia gives 'em 4.



Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

23 comments:

  1. I think these are like $6 at Whole Foods. I know they go crazy pushing them when they're on sale for $4.69. So $4 (although expensive for a small portion of snack foods) is actually a pretty good deal, stoked they carry them now!

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  2. I make my own kale chips with olive oil and sea salt, but so glad to know TJ's has them for when I'm too lazy to make some (which is usually most of the time!).

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  3. We make them fresh. $1.49 for a fresh bunch of kale, some olive oil, salt, sesame seeds, whatever... pop them in the oven 20 minutes later crunch away! Plus the olive oil is great for dry skin during winter weather! :-D

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  4. Oh man I hated these and I was so bummed because I love Kale. I really disliked the dressing on them. It tasted....rotten. Like it had gone bad. I think these would have been better without it.

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  5. They're extremely easy to make at home & you can customize the flavourings. I haven't tried TJ's packaged ones yet, simply b/c of the price, but kale is my favourite veggie.

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  7. I love you blog and all your reviews. You answer a lot of questions about some TJ's products I'm too scared to try myself. I do wish you included a picture of the product out of the package too though.

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  8. REALLY? you actually liked these pieces of barf vomit? I love kale and these are absolutely disgusting. I'm shocked that you enjoy that 'flavor' of throw up and moldy cheese.

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    1. Your comment is fallacious due to the fact there is no dairy at all in the product. Therefore, the presumed "moldy cheese" flavor is impossible to attain. Perhaps you dislike the assorted spices that are actually in the product, but your comment is invalid.

      Granted, there are better kale chips out there (homemade of course) your comment just doesn't make logical sense according to the ingrediants.

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    2. Doufu ru, a Chinese fermented tofu, has the flavor of a very sharp blue cheese and contains no dairy.

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  9. I'm really surprised we've gotten so many negative comments about these! We thought they were great and there's so much buzz about them on Instagram and Pinterest. Each to his/her own I guess!

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  10. I LOVE these chips but I wish the packaging was better so we get more chips and less crumbs. I am not a fan of kale since I don't like the bitter taste but these chips are great. I always get 3 or 4 bags at a time. Here in NYC there are many health food stores that sell kale chips but the cheapest price I have seen is about $5.49 so the TJ's brand is not that expensive compared to other brands.

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  11. I bought these last week as an impulse items because they were next to the register & I've heard rumors that kale is good for you. They looked weird and, upon eating a few, couldn't decide if they were gross or decent. You're review calling them "peculiar" was spot on. The only reason I haven't tossed mine in the rubbish bin yet is because I want to give them one more chance....to be sure I'm positive they are nasty.

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  12. I'm with Fluffy and Tulip! These were the worst things I've ever bought on your recommendation. They tasted blechy, plus they completely disintegrated at the bottom of the bag! Your description, "It's like somebody left out a salad—dressing and all, in a dehydrator somewhere, forgot about it, then re-discovered it a couple days later and decided to eat it anyway," is all too accurate, but with no redeeming factor. (Rather unbelievably, you disliked the Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies, which are crazy delicious, so maybe our taste buds simply come from different places.)

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  13. Just wanted to say thanks for this review (and all of your reviews fire that matter!) I would never have purchased these without your recommendation. I'm not a huge fan of regular ol' cooked Kale but after being diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia I've been trying to get Kale and other iron rich greens in my diet and I was absolutely thrilled they were so tasty! Thanks again and keep on keeping this Trader Joe's newbie in the know!

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  14. I understand that some people don't like the coating, but to me these are the best dried kale I've had--including making it at home. Spicy helps a vegetable that is a bit bitter to start with.

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  15. I just picked these up yesterday. I can't get enough! I easily kill one bag, and then Im sad there isnt any left. I am so freaking addicted to these. And the crazy part is they are vegan! I think it really does taste cheesy! Maybe Im crazy...they are kinda pricy though, but I bought some at another place a while back and it seemed to be the same amount for $6!! I love these, I hope they never get rid of them.

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  16. I love these. I bought them at TJs on a whim, prepared to hate them…not a kale fan otherwise - then tasted them. The first taste was…weird. But I kinda liked it. I offered it to my daughter and said, "these are pretty good". She scrunched her nose up at the kale and tried. She had an odd look on her face - not nasty, just surprised. I said, ok, good for something this healthy. She agreed. Next thing you know, I'm eating the whole bag, and thinking about them all night till I go out and get more the next day. Now I bought a bunch of kale. I mean a bunch - like 5 different varieties at Sprouts… mostly because I'm too cheap to pay $4 a little bag for my newest addiction… to the ovens I go. Wish me luck.

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  17. I just discovered these recently, and I am shouting them from the mountaintops! Crunchy, great texture, and the dry spices and flavoring (all natural) are absolutely scrumptious! Honesty, I simply cannot believe I am eating Kale, which is considered a super-healthy 'superfood'! I have already bought about 8 bags over 2 weeks, and will be buying a lot more! The price is a bit steep, yes.

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  18. Maybe I got a bad batch but I (and three friends who sampled them) found them to be vile! The most awful Kale anything out there! BARF!

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    1. Based on the comments we've gotten from our review, I think it's a "love it or hate it" kind of deal.

      While a bad batch is always a possibility, we might just have to agree to disagree :)

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  19. These are delicious! For the people who don't like them, I would recommend you look at the ingredient list so you know what you are tasting.

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