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?"

Search This Blog

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo 2.0

You just don't mess with some classics.

Like, seriously, no, don't.

Like Jennifer Gray's nose. Like Charlie and Chocolate Factory, despite your fancy squirrels. Like about 2/3rds of the songs on this list (beware, some NSFW language). Seriously, not like I was ever a Madonna fan, but when she ripped off "American Pie"....there are no words.

I guess if any of those can be messed with, though, so can Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo.

Listen: I'm a guy who, despite dabbling in pseudo-vegeterian ways about a year ago, keeps a spreadsheet of every type of animal I've ever eaten (up to 23!), and yet, I love, love, love TJ's soy chorizo. Loved it enough for it to be my first review for this site back in the day. Loved it enough for it to be a continual staple for tasty, healthy, easy dinners - chorizo, black beans, rice, salsa and cheese all mixed together (as pictured) - for years to follow. Darn good stuff.

And then...it got taken away.

The official word I heard: Needed to change supplier, pricing changed, TJ's wanted to keep quality product at low price. Alright, well, I get that. Bizness is bizness. Huzzah. Still, it's a popular enough product that a) Seems like there should be no shortage of suppliers willing to make a deal 2) A small price increase (let's say 50 cents) wouldn't dampen sales too much (wouldn't stop me) and d) Discontinuation of a popular product should be foreseeable enough to start making alternate plans to avoid months of a product not being in stock. Of course, we're talking about the same place that still can't figure out how to bring back the best peanut butter ever, so maybe this shouldn't have been a total surprise.

So now, finally, it's back in stock, after something like six long months of it being gone. If you're familiar with the old version, this is just about a spittin' image, with just a few discernible changes. First, it seems a little spicier, with a little more bite to it. That part is good.

The other change: It's no longer vegan. There's "milk powder for freshness." Some one please explain how that works.  

And someone please explain how someone thought that was a good idea. I'm not vegan, but I can see such a change being pretty upsetting for those who are. It's alienating a segment of the customer base. It's not right.

And apparently I'm not alone in thinking this. This is not official word, but I heard this from two separate store employees in person: It's being discontinued...again...to be reformulated back to being vegan based on the outcry from customers about the switch from vegan to vegetarian. Heard nothing about time frame. Maybe one of you reading this is more in the know than I am. This complete lack of foresight is pretty frustrating.

Anyways, to help hold us over, I picked up three packs the other night. Still $1.99 each, which is a darn good price. Since we ate one already, that means I have two left in the freezer (these freeze great!), and after we eat the second package, we'll have an interesting dilemma for third: eat it or keep it? I mean, within a few years, as the world's last Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo vegetarian version, it might be worth enough to send my kids through college. One can hope.

Sorry for the "more rant than review." Just irritating. And I'm taking it on our score, marking it down a couple full spoons off of the original. You just don't mess with the classics.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

16 comments:

  1. I've been waiting for this to come back! Thank you for letting us know about it so quickly. I never got to try it the first time around so I've been impatiently checking my local TJ's every time I go in.

    I'm not a vegan (not even vegetarian) so I don't care much about the milk powder, but I agree that it wasn't a good decision for them to make. I hope they are reformulating it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had seen this Chorizo at TJ, but my bad experience with the soy (fake meat) that I tried at TJ before had scared me away from picking this up.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Pretty close, maybe a tad spicier with a little more bite texture-wise.

      Delete
  4. Giving it a 6 out of spite? That's not fair....

    ReplyDelete
  5. The plan is to sell thru the chorizo we have then discontinue it while tjs searches to make it vegan again. No timetable for that though.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the heads-up. I picked up 5 and put 4 in the freezer just in case... looked for it periodically and lamented its absence. But 6 spoons? Your only gripe is it isn't the original, but tastes like the original, maybe a bit spicier (a GOOD thing) and it's not vegan (a non-issue at best for the vast majority of the population). seriously, this stuff is MONEY! I'm a card-carrying carnivore and would rather have this in my eggs, etc. over almost every real-meat chorizo I've had. The only vegetarian 'fake' food that gives up nothing to its meaty counterpart. For those skeptical about TJ soy products, TRY THIS!!! Easily a 9 in my ratings (which usually are close to WGATJ's).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nah the gripe is more with TJs in general and I'm just being passive-aggressive and taking it out on the score. I agree, it is pretty darn good.

      Delete
    2. Yup, cooked some up with scrambled eggs and it is as tasty as it ever was. If a fast-food chain ever made a breakfast sandwich with TJ chorizo and eggs, they would sell millions. Still a 9 in my book. And yeah, I too am frustrated by TJ's discontinued products (lemon triple-ginger snap ice cream!)

      Delete
  7. Another thing I noticed: TJ Soy Chorizo 2.0 is much less oily than the original. That's worth an extra spoon IMO. Cooking/eating the original would tend to get messy with all the orange oily stuff. (I warmed up around 2"of this stuff, and covered a reheated pizza slice with it. YUM!)

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband and I were so happy to see that this was back on the shelves that we picked up like 6 packages! And I agree that it's maybe even better than last time and less oily. Is it for sure that they're pulling it again to make it vegan? Because we went back to our TJs last week and they didn't have any - and they didn't even have shelf space for it. We're worried. Hope it's not gone too long....

    ReplyDelete
  9. So TJ's is essentially saying that if the vegans can't have it, nobody else can either! I truly don't understand. The resupply lasted 2 days here! Why not continue to sell it while you go back and change the formula?

    ReplyDelete
  10. But at least it's coming back. The SO and I were in the Media, PA TJ's a few weeks back and audibly *sighed* when we saw that it wasn't there.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Its back now and its vegan now.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just tried this recently for the first time. I was very impressed. I used it on some homemade pizza and 3 different cheeses and hot peppers. Wow...so yummy! Even my husband had the pizza and didn't even recognize that it was not meat. I also put some of the leftovers in a sauce over pasta. Not too bad. It is very spicy but I love hot food so that's a plus for me. It's very crumbly and you do get a lot so it went a long way. Also ran out and got another package as this has become my favorite TJ "meatless" items.

    ReplyDelete
  13. If you're looking for a dairy free soy chorizo, try Tofurky's chorizo. Wheat free also. I have no idea how people usually use chorizo (I just needed something GF and dairy-free and tomato-free), but their stuff is wonderful on pasta.

    ReplyDelete