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, January 10, 2014

Trader Joe's Ruggedly Adventuresome Cowboy Bark

At last.

With a slight sigh, Cowboy Joe slumps down on the edge of his porch, his tired legs dangling over the edge. It's a good tired, the tired that means a good, hard day's work has been done, and done well, and now it's time for campfires and cheap beer or whatever it is that cowboys do on their downtime. It's well deserved, and if one were to need proof, just look at the bottom of his boots.

Or, more specifically, look at the mud there, caked on deep, like dark chocolate caught in the treads on the soles. It's thick and dried and crunchy, and carries little remnants from Cowboy Joe's day, and before he can go inside to wash up, he must scrape it off his boots. That makes Mrs. Cowboy Joe happy, and don't you dare make her otherwise.

Cowboy Joe takes a moment to look at what all that chocolatey mud collected. First, there's this toffee. Toffee. What a silly thing he had never heard of. When his slightly crazy mother-in-law asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and he replied "Tobacco and coffee", well, she must have seen this "toffee" concoction and thought it was some swell combination of the two. Or course, it's not even close, and he isn't sure it's something a real cowboy would admit to eating (like salsa from New York City), but still, it tasted alright and was secretly upset when he dropped some trying to hide it quick from his cowboy friends. They never noticed, but it got all up on his boots.

Next, broken pretzels. That morning he had some fence-mendin' to do on Pretzel Prairie, named after all the pretzel plants there, of course. Fortunately there's enough pretzel rods and grids laying around to make a respectable fence there, but all these other plants just can't help but get all trampled underfoot there.

And then, Joe-Joe rocks, as he likes to call them. There was a stray calf that ran up Cookie Mountain, which Cowboy Joe called "Joe-Joe's mountain" when he was just a young whippersnapper. It smells faintly of offbrand semi-generic sandwich cookies (hence the name), which isn't a bad thing by any stretch. As he climbed, bits and chunks of the mountain rocks got trapped in the mud on his boots and stuck on deep, but he was able to rescue the calf and place her back in her safely fenced in pasture at Pretzel Prairie.

Then, there's the nuts. He never really knows how those get there, and they're too small to tell one from the other. It could be from the short siesta he took over at Peanut Pond, or maybe from when he had to wrestle his cowboy hat back from one of those darn almondolopes who took off with it. He's not really sure, but sometimes, things go a little, well, nuts around these parts, and he's just glad to keep it all under control. 

He ponders all this as he scrapes that dried up mud off his boots. The shards break off in different sized pieces, some big, some tiny, some just little specks, into a pile, and, as is his custom, when no one is sure to be looking, Cowboy reaches down, grabs a handful, and shoves it in his mouth. With some bites his teeth struggle to easily to chomp their way through, and it seems an odd custom, but he does this to know one thing: to know what his day tasted like.

Off in the distance, a dog barks. With a satisfied smile, Cowboy Joe echos back the refrain.

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If this story isn't true, I have no idea why Trader Joe's would name this "Cowboy Bark." My only other theory is they didn't want their other "cowboy product" to be a lone ranger. Just like the story above, the actual Cowboy Bark is kinda jumbled, nonsensical, and questionably good at best just because it's so....not well planned. There's potential, but just not as it is. There's nothing overly wrong nor overly right about it. Sandy agrees, giving it a "two...maybe three at best." She'll probably say the same about this review when she reads it. I'm not all that lassoed in by this, either, and for the nearly $4 for the small bag, there's plenty of other goodies I'd rather get at TJ's anyways.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ruggedly Adventuresome Cowboy Bark: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

10 comments:

  1. I quite enjoyed this story, but I agree that this snack seems "jumbled" and particularly the dark chocolate doesn't seem to fit. Maybe it would be better with milk chocolate and with taking out one or two of the ingredients.

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    1. Hmm...yeah, I think milk chocolate would have been better. And of all the ingredients, I'd kick out the Joe-Joe's, I think. Or at least make them smaller/more manageable/less noticeable.

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  2. kudos for imagination, but i disagree on the product--i think it all goes together beautifully, flavor-wise, and it was the most popular item among the snacks laid out on new year's eve among the group i was with. love it!

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  3. I agree with Justine, I think the stuff is awesome.

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    1. Eh, well, more for the two of you then, right? :)

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    2. I'm with Justine and Carolyn on this one. Love the site btw(first time poster)
      Was expecting a 7 at the very least. This is an "everything but the kitchen sink" type of snack which my friends and I are totally into.
      I guess everyone's a critic!

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  4. You are hilarious!! I loved this post! Never tried this but I will despite the low rating. I mean it sounds like a bunch of awesome things mixed together. What could possibly be wrong with it? (*2 days later. purchases bag. takes a bite*: "Oh".)

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  5. You are a liar, this stuff is from God.

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