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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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trader Joe's Soft Pretzel Stick

Despite multiple promises to review more gluten free products, here's another review of something that is most definitely not gluten free. I hope this doesn't come as a slap in the face to you gluten-intolerant folks out there—it's just that we haven't seen anything interesting in the gluten free category in quite a while, and we couldn't pass up this tasty-looking 99 cent soft pretzel.

I never realized how many pretzel products we've reviewed on this blog until I searched for the keyword "pretzel" just now. As Russ observed a few years back, it probably has something to do with the fact that the German-speaking settlers who brought pretzels over from Europe many generations ago kinda made this area (southeast PA to central PA) the pretzel capital of the US—and possibly now the world. One could argue that the Germans who invented the pretzel should have that title, but while our Deutsche freunde balanced their interest in twisted bread with beer,
sauerkraut, and chocolate cake, we Americans took to marketing the pretzel as far and wide as we possibly could. We not only have the headquarters for several famous hard pretzel brands in this area, but we also have pretzel-based restaurant chains like Philly Pretzel Factory and Auntie Anne's. So we Pennsylvanians know our pretzels.

And considering that this pretzel is pre-packaged, shelf-stable, and inexpensive, I have to say that it's not bad at all. In my opinion, it's not particularly pretzel-like. It's more like soft white bread if you ask me, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It does have the typical brown "skin" of a pretzel, but even that is pretty soft. Sonia was mesmerized by the softness of this pretzel. She sat there staring at her piece, squeezing it, and smiling strangely. I asked if she was going to eat it, and sensing that I might snatch it away from her if she didn't, she quickly wolfed it down. She loved it. It tasted like lightly salted fresh white bread. It made great sandwiches and tasted good with cheese and chili. 

It's nothing very fancy. But the genius of a pretzel is its simplicity. Sonia gives this a near-perfect score of 4.5 stars. It's certainly not bad, but I might have marked it higher had it been more pretzel-esque. As it is, I give it a respectable 3.5.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

11 comments:

  1. So this is just pretzel bread, then. It is kinda confusing that they refer to it as a "stick." Do they not have it as a type of bread out there? That would be odd, as it seems you are in the pretzel capital of the US! I love me some pretzel bread. It's the best for a juicy burger, as it doesn't fall apart. Mmm. It's 9 am and I want a burger.

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    1. That's a good point. Yeah, we have pretzel bread here. I guess that's the closest comparison you could make, but it's still just a tad less pretzel-ish than most pretzel bread I've had.

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  2. I don't think I would ever eat just one serving...half of a pretzel? I wouldn't be able to stop!

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  3. are these big enough to make hoagies out of or are they more like little pretzel sticks nathan?

    also, im not sure if all TJs carry the same stuff, but my local TJs just started selling these frozen korean scallion pancakes (pajeon) that you can either cook on a skillet or in the toaster oven. they are amazing! you guys definitely need to try them out!

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    1. Dirt, they're big enough to make small-ish hoagies (4 or 5 inches). Thanks for the rec with the pajeon. We just bought some actually, but haven't tried them yet.

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  4. These make great sandwiches. Specifically, George Foreman Grill paninis.

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  5. there are actually two soft pretzel sticks at traders. one which comes in the plastic wrap above and another in a paper pouch. the one is paper is even better.

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    1. Didn't see the paper pouch one at our TJ's, Galadriel. We'll have to keep an eye out next time!

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  6. Pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds. It softens it up considerably, gives it more of a pretzel texture and the pretzel aroma is AMAZING.

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