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, July 26, 2013

Trader Joe's Hot & Sweet Mustard

As I've written before, with the notable exception of hot sauce, I'm just not a condiment kinda guy. I don't know why that is. I mean, I like the idea of adding different kinds of sauces and whatnot to a sandwich or pile of fries or whatever, or the idea of salad dressing to spruce up an otherwise dull plate of greens and veggies, but when push comes to shove, more often than not I'll just pass. Maybe I just like my food to taste like however it's going to taste without too much outside interference. Don't like ketchup. Don't like pretty much any salad dressing. And don't get me started on mayonnaise. And most importantly, if it's in a squeeze bottle that makes farty sounds, no way on earth I'm trying it. Them's the rules for me. Blecch.

One very occasional exception to this would be mustard. And I must say, very, very, occasional. I'll put some on a pretzel or, back when it was a viable lunch option, let my Subway sandwich artist put some on every once in a great while. It's no great loss when they don't. So, when someone (I think my brother, not sure) told me that Trader Joe's Hot & Sweet Mustard was more or less the best thing ever, I felt good about trying it out despite my usual prejudices (keep those in mind as you read the rest of this).

This mustard, to me, just isn't all that great. Not that it's terrible, either. "Hot and sweet" is not a completely honest description for it - "sweet and sour and a wee bit of something that approaches hot" seems a bit more accurate. Trader Joe's repeats their fairly classic mistake of assuming vinegar equates to heat (prime example: their black bean dip) for their "hot" and loads up on sugar for the "sweet" part (see first ingredient). So imagine very sweet, vinegary mustard. Maybe that's tantalizing for you. For me, not so much. To be fair, after dunking a few pretzel sticks in it, the back of my throat began to sense something a little spicy, or perhaps overly bitter, in a kinda horseradish-y sense. There's no horseradish in this mustard, of course, but that's the closest thing I can equate it to. Overall, the mustard seemed okay, not bad enough to keep me from snacking, but not good enough for me to keep on craving it. For whatever reason, it tasted a little better the one night we dipped our chickenless tenders in it instead.

My wife's admiration more than makes up for my ambivalence. "Oooooooh, this is so good, I could drink it right out of the jar!!!" Sandy exclaimed. I offered to snap a picture of her doing so and can't believe she said no. That would've been a much more interesting visual addition than our usual product shots. She agrees that it's closer to sweet and sour than hot and sweet, so good to know I'm not just making that up. It's not a terrible pickup for the measly $1.49 it costs, but if solely up to me, it's not one we'll make often. Sandy gives it a four. For me, about the fairest I can be is to call it right down the middle with a 2.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joes Hot & Sweet Mustard: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons     


  1. hahah this made me laugh, I could eat it by the spoon! I am so in love with this stuff! They only have it certain times of year, and when they get it in I easily buy 4 or 5! :P

  2. I love to have their chicken and apple sausages and dip the bites in this stuff...yum! Pretty sure they have it year round in MA...they've always had it when I've looked, anyway.

  3. Oh -- this is Pantheon level for me! I can (and do!) eat it with a spoon as well! I can go through a jar of this in a few days.

  4. This stuff rocks my face off, particularly if everything pretzel thins are available to dip in it. That takes it to a whole new level.

  5. I am so in love with this stuff!

  6. We always dip our salami and cheddar cheese cubes in this stuff. Yummy!

  7. I am going to have to try this. I am in LOVE with the McDonald's Hot mustard (although I am not in love with the nuggets that comes with it). It's my goal to find something similar in the stores.

  8. Thanks for the review. We picked this up on Saturday and it was very good with the TJ's turkey hotdogs.


  9. They had a better one previously. With this one, sugar is the first ingredient. The other one had naturally fermented vinegar as the first ingredient. This has water as the third ingredient, the other had no water. The other had some honey, this has none. Just an inferior product all around.

  10. I love good mustard and like to sample different brands, especially English mustard. TJ's mustard is NASTY, like yeach nasty, like I just ate some spoiled spam. I'm not kidding, I threw it in the trash.

  11. TJ discontinued the product and it is no longer available. FYI