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, August 6, 2013

Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar

Even when I was a much younger rumblin' tumblin' typhoon of a kid, I always disliked the word "lover's" in the name of any food. Prime example: Pizza Hut's Meat Lover's Pizza. Now, I like pepperoni and sausage and beef and whatever other bits of carnation that get piled on top, but I think the simple act of saying the name was like a confession I wasn't willing to openly, unabashedly proclaim: "I love meat! Mmmmm meat!" Plus, let's face it, there's better, more verbally understated ways of celebrating one's appreciation of meat, like ordering a bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Or a turducken. Or, when given the opportunity like I have recently, unashamedly taking a thick cut of pepperoni and smearing a swath of buffalo chicken dip all up on it and savoring every last bit....ummm, I mean, dear, I totally didn't do that this past weekend at your cousin's kid's birthday party...I'm a terrible, terrible absolute hack of a vegetarian wannabe.

So, Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar. I'll skip over the long awkward name bit (e pluribus unum at TJ's) and focus on that word again: Lover's. Now, I like dark chocolate, but love? Can't go there. Sorry, dark chocolate, you've been friendzoned.

 If the "85% Cacao" label on there isn't indication enough, this is one seriously dark chocolate bar. Kinda like an early days/obscure b-sides album, it's not for everyone even if you're otherwise a fan. It's the darkest TJ's carries, and unlike so many of their other fine choco-creations, there's nothing else mixed in to break up the flavor. And honestly...I didn't expect it to be so sweet. Granted, it's more bittersweet than anything, but I'll confess to have eaten straight baker's chocolate squares before, and I kinda expected the same flat kind of flavor despite the "smooth and fruity" the labels proclaims these bars bring to the table. Nuh uh. Smooth and fruity, while bitter seems about right, plus there's this kinda alcohol-y bit to it, though of course they're booze-free. Is floral a word I can use to describe chocolate? I don't know, but I'm tempted to anyways. It's dark, it's strong, and it's unexpected...hard to adequately describe, but if you've tried you know what I mean.  This ain't no Hershey's.

For a $1.49 for two (!) bars, it's a small, risk-worthy pick-up. I thought Sandy and I would each plow our way thru our own piece. Oh no. It's chocolate worth nibblin' on and slowly enjoying, like a mature grown-up or something. I'll admit that my first impression wasn't so hot, but with each successive smidge I liked it a little more. One bar between the two of us was more than plenty for one night. Sandy enjoyed it a bit more than I did and goes with a four. It's a bit potent for me, but I don't think I'm quite the intended audience, so I'll be fair and say a three...nah, 3.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. A clerk at TJ's suggested this and I love it!. Size doesn't bother me, since its inexpensive and can only eat a small part of it at a time.. My heart still is w/the caramel and sea salt one, tho!

  2. I hadn't seen these! I usually buy the 72% ones (the three packs with the red package), but I will check these out.

  3. The appreciation of dark chocolate is akin to wine tasting. "I detect subtle fruity notes and earthy undertones, snoot snoot snoot" (snooty impression) . It's definitely not an eat all at once kind of deal either. One bar is 4 snacks for me and that $1.49 price tag is half of what I normally spend!

  4. My husband bought these very potent bars by mistake, but they're great for cooking.

  5. Did you see they now have Dark Chocolate and COOKIE BUTTER bars? Devastatingly good.

  6. @Rene: You can also get the 72% in the big "Pound Plus" bars (.5 kg). The pieces are thicker, but costs less by weight, which is a good thing!

  7. I gave these out to the trick and treaters on Halloween and have only had one tree TP'd so far so I guess the little monsters liked them.

  8. I love these, since I am diabetic, and the sugar is so low.

  9. These bars also have added vanilla flavor, which for me is the over-riding taste, possibly the 'alcohol' you're detecting.

  10. I think this chocolate is fruity and floral and by far the best chocolate that Trader Joe's carries. How dare you ask for Hershey's again. I challenge whether you even know good chocolate.