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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Monday, July 15, 2013

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Joe-Joe's

I'll admit this right up front: I'm most likely the last person in the world who should be reviewing these. I have no gluten sensitivities or any need to be wary of pretty much anything I eat. I'm also not a huge fan of Oreos and sandwich cookies in general - yeah, I mean, I'll eat them, but they all kinda taste the same to me, and if I'm eating a cookie, well, dangit, if it's not homemade I want it be something not so ordinary more times than not. Notable exception: add mint and dip into dark chocolate.

But fear not, I (for once) have a plan. Since I lack the proper gluten-free perspective and a healthy fondness for these kinda cookies, I'm actually going to take a small step aside here for a moment. One of my good friends, Allison, has had to adopt a gluten-free diet for the past several years, and when she, in a little bit of a break from the norm, started raving on Facebook about how tremendously awesome Trader Joe's Gluten Free Joe-Joe's are, well, it got my attention and so I invited Allison to share her thoughts about them.

"In eating gluten free, you generally find good replacements (IF you search around-there is a lot of bad gluten-free food that you have to weed out). Products that are a good substitute, however, are exactly that: a substitute. TJ's gluten free Joe-Joes are the first gluten-free product I have tasted that taste just like the original. They are oh-so chocolaty, and have an amazing texture, reminiscent of Oreos (in my opinion, better, since you can taste the real vanilla bean in the middle). I had my non-gluten-free husband try them, and he loved them as well, guessing that he wouldn't have been able to tell the difference in a blind taste test," she wrote. "I would also add that good chocolate flavor in cookies and cakes (gluten free or not) is hard to do. Many times the chocolate flavor is flat, especially in packaged cookies. These cookies give you a full, robust, chocolate flavor, satisfying any chocolate lover's craving."

Well, there you have it. Sandy and I picked up a box of the regular and the gluten-free guys to compare and contrast. They're pretty close overall but to be honest, we both kinda sided with the the gluten-free ones being a tad bit better despite their nearly identical taste. The gluten-free guys have this particular crunch and "clean crumbliness" to them that make them more fun to munch. Sandy also she said she liked the middles of the gluten free cookies better, but I can't tell the difference. 

There is another difference though, which Allison tipped me off to, but apparently is par for the gluten free course. The box of regular Joe-Joe's cost $2.99 and had 42 cookies, so about 7 cents a cookie. The gluten free ones cost $3.99 (so a third more) and had 28 cookies (so a third less) which computes to about 14 cents a cookie. For another example, regular TJ's mac 'n cheese (yum!) goes for a buck a box, while the far inferior rice/celiac friendly version costs a paper Jefferson. Yeesh. How do you all with gluten sensitivities and a budget do it? Mad respect. And perhaps I'm a bit slow, but I can't think of a great justification for the widely divergent price points, and find all of that to be a wee bit unfair. 

Alrighty, Golden Spoons time. I'm keeping out of this one altogether for two reasons. First, Allison is the leading gluten-free expert I know, so I'm giving her the courtesy of scoring on my behalf. Secondly, if there's anything that over 3.5 years of marriage (and just over 1 year with a delightful daughter!) have taught me, it's that when there's a question of whose opinion matters more, there's not a question after all. Sandy just went "mmmmm" while munching a mouthful and flashed me all five digits. That texture's got a hook on her. Allison agrees. "For really great junk food (that would also make an amazing pie crust) gluten-free or not, I give it a 5." There you have it. All you gluten-free peeps out there, rejoice.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Gluten Free Joe-Joe's: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons

5 comments:

  1. I have to totally agree with your score of 10 Golden Spoons! I used a box of these to make the most amazing crust and filled it with caramel cheesecake and my Honey ate the entire cheesecake himself. They are now my go-to gluten free crust for everything.
    And I have to tell you, you guys rock! I'm always checking out the stuff that you review and you have never let me down. Thanks!

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    1. Glad we can be of service! By the way, we'd gladly accept a caramel cheesecake with gluten-free Joe-Joe crust as a gift of gratitude at any time..... :D

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  2. Strong dissenting opinion! These are pretty nasty. I'd never had the regular nor the gluten-free. Luckily they gave me a sample before I bought them. I went with the regular. Would have returned these for sure. And I'll eat just about anything!

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  3. Funny you gave these cookies a 10 out of 10, because my official food taster gave it a zero. I sent my hubby on a grocery shopping adventure and he back with one of these instead of the regular ones. He did not realize there was a difference, I particularly don't core for oreos, we buy them for me son. I gave them to my three year old food critic and he almost threw the box at me and gave me that what did I do wrong that you are trying to kill me look. He said yuck and eww in every langauge he knew, my hubby tasted them and said they tasted ok to me. so we but the regular ones from TJ and showed the blue box to my son who exclaimed that is the right one, but I did a switch a roo and gave him the gluten free ones, and I got the same reaction from him, he said this is the wrong ones, i can tell...I gave him the regular ones and no problem...I guess it is one of those you either like them or you dont...

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  4. I thought they were okay, but dry. Hubby didn't care for them. Wouldn't buy again.

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