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, April 5, 2013

Trader Joe's Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices

How long does a bag of mandarins or clementines last in your house? Around these parts, not long at all. The wife and I can inhale a two pound bag in literally a day. It must be our completely irrational fear of scurvy. As an aside, we have to save one for Baby M, who loves holding one in her little hands as she tries to impersonate the two of us by trying to cram it into mouth. Like father, like daughter, I guess. Scary thought. She literally held one for hours at school one day until a bigger kid came by, swiped it, and chomped it as Baby M burst into tears. If someone stole my little orange, I'd have much the same reaction.

Anyways, when I see the words "crispy" and "Mandarin orange," my mind automatically inserts the word "chicken." So it's a little jarring to see the full name, Trader Joe's Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices, and know it's an obviously orangey poultry-free product. In case you whiff on this observation, TJ's conveniently slapped on the phrase "nothing added". No, friends, what's about to go down is a crispy orange slice, in all its crispy orange slice glory, and there's nothing to add or subtract from that.

Except the juiciness, naturally. Texturally and sensorially, the orange slices are kinda bizarre at first. Visually, they look like something you'd find in a potpurri jar. Imagine leaving an orange slice in the desert sun for a week or two, and coming back and finding a withered skin-frame of what used to be a regular mandarin orange slice. That's about what they look like, and kinda what they crunch like, too. Each bit is light, airy, and definitely crispy, like a potato chip but much lighter, like crispy paper, perhaps. It's strange until you get used to it.

What it doesn't lose is taste. Despite the abject absence of any water, the orange slices still maintain a lot of the citrusy acidic bite. Some were even downright tart. Once I got used to the texture and mouthfeel of these lil' buggers, I could begin to really enjoy the taste. Unfortunately, that's also just about when the bag ran out.

The crispy oranges made an interesting little snack for the drive home post-work and shopping/pre-exercise/dinner/baby caretaking evening. Sandy's pretty hyped on the idea of getting them again before having guests over, to try and fool them into thinking we eat potpurri. Other than that, she stated she wasn't sure if she'd buy them again. I think it's because ultimately there isn't much substance to them. That's also my knock aganst 'em, though the edible potpurri shenanigans sound good to me. Sandy says a three. I say they deserve better, just for being willing to be a little weird, so a four from me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons        


  1. Does the package say where the fruit comes from? I've recently discovered that most canned mandarin orange products come from China, which is disturbing to me. The TJs can of fruit comes from Spain. I didn't know that the US was unable to produce mandarin oranges....
    - Teresa

    1. the US definitely produces these oranges. I've driven past a "Smarties Farm" in central California.

    2. From what I recall, the package says something about Korea?

    3. The title explains it all ...

      "Jeju Mandarins" :)

    4. "PRODUCT OF KOREA", as it says on the back of the package. Also, Jeju is an island in South Korea that is known for its oranges.

  2. Been wanting to try these little suckers...they sure sound tasty!

  3. I actually think these got short changed on the score. I was intrigued based on your review and picked up a bag this past Saturday. Knowing they were going to be really crunchy and light helped going in - I destroyed them in just a couple minutes. The orange flavor was amazing. Not a lot of substance to them, so I'd love to find a way to mix them in another snack.... but I'd probably pick them all out and eat them first.

  4. These are from Jeju Island, in South Korea. I live there and yes they produce a lot of oranges. Great island too! Check it out! http://kajeju.com/ SO many oranges on the South of the island, don't worry, no one has invaded yet, so the supply should be safe...!

  5. I think these are supposed to be used for baking, crushed into powder form and added to frosting, meringue, icing, etc. That's what I've always used freeze dried fruit for...if these are as flavorful as you say they are I will definitely be making an orange flavored something soon!

  6. Will have to look for these on my next TJ's trip. Vacationed in Jeju and loved all the orange products from there.

  7. If you add these dried orange pieces to a green salad tossed with olive oil and TJ's orange-champagne vinegar, it's amazing. They add both the acidity of tomatoes and the crunch of croutons. One of my favorite dishes, esp. in winter when the tomatoes are pretty unappealing.

  8. I just got a bag today and have to give them a 5. The flavor is truly amazing.