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, December 2, 2013

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Triple Ginger Snaps

Since it's December and Turkey Day has now passed, it's officially time to start enjoying the Christmas season and to look forward to all the goodies ahead. That's not to discount Thanksgiving at all - quite the opposite actually - I'm just a one-holiday-at-a-time kinda guy. I love the Christmas season for so many reasons, but most pertinently to this post, the cookies. And I must say this: this is entirely because of my mother, who each and every year, literally pours her heart and soul into making batch upon batch upon batch upon batch of dozens of different cookie types. Chocolate mint? Check. Anise seed? Check. Jelly thumbprints? Candy cane? Cranberry lemon creme? Homemade biscotti in dazzling arrays of flavors? Yes, yes, and yes, and yes to so many more. She will not settle for anyone placing his/her foot in her house without an absolute abundance of at least nine of their favorite ten varieties of cookies ready for mass consumption on a whim's notice. It's absurdly delicious and so, so appreciated, more than what I can put words to. Now that's something to be thankful for and eager about at the same time, so, yeah, it's all timely here.

Naturally, it's pretty unfair to hold some store-bought confectionery trinkets up to this measure. Regardless, in their own way, Trader Joe's this time of year shines, with some of their best seasonal work. And it's never a bad idea to take something so-so (which the Triple Ginger Snaps are certainly much better than) and coat it in dark chocolate just to see what will happen - sometimes it's absolutely transformative.

Sadly, the Dark Chocolate Triple Ginger Snaps are also a transformative experience, but that's not meant in glowing terms. Changes and twists aren't always good, and here's an example. You might think that this product is simply one of the regular ginger snaps coated in dark chocolate, but while that's technically true, I s'pose, it doesn't exactly tell the story. There's something about the dark chocolate that robs the ginger snap of its two main alluring qualities. First, in quite literal terms, it sugarcoats the balance-yet-spicy ginger bite from the snaps. It's too smooth, too unbalanced, too much chocolate and not enough ginger. I know how good those ginger snaps can taste - I want to taste them! And I want them to crunch the way their naked forefathers did. That's the second thing. My presumption is that in the non-choc'ed-up ones, the crystallized ginger adds slight bit of stiff occasional chewiness to an otherwise tough, crunchy cookie that works so, so well. That all gets lost with these guys, and so they're texturally pretty boring.

Other than that, well, they're a decent enough cookie. I mean, my arm didn't have to be twisted to eat them. But the sleeve of maybe about twenty of them lasted around the house for almost two weeks, so my tastebuds weren't exactly clamoring for them, either. Nor were Sandy's, who noted much of the above, shrugged, and gave 'em a three. That sounds just about right to me as well. They could worth a pickup for the office holiday lunch potluck - for about four bucks a box, you could do worse - but they certainly do not belong at the centerpiece of any holiday cookie spread. Don't believe me? That's fine. Just ask my mom.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Triple Ginger Snaps: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons  


  1. The dark chocolate sea salted caramels are a winner and being advertised as a great stocking stuffer. The caramel is very creamy, and it is Belgian chocolate.

  2. I love the triple ginger snaps, but agree the dark chocolate doesn't do anything for them -- its kind of like tug of war in your mouth. just buy the triple ginger snaps and you get a whole lot more for your money too.