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, June 4, 2014

Trader Joe's Fruit Frenzy Bars II

Wait....there's the Roman numeral two? As in, like, Trader Joe's Fruit Frenzy Bars...the sequel? More fruit, more frenzy, more bars, or what? I've been a fairly observant Trader Joe's shopper over the past few years, but either I've been extremely sheltered in these Pittsburgh area stores (it happens!) or I've been completely oblivious (also very possible, ask my wife!), but I've never even heard of or seen the original Fruit Frenzy Bars that the existence of this product implies also existed. I was very excited to try these, even though, let's face it, the sequels almost always suck compared to the original. Prime example: any Matrix movie after the first (I'd be much happier never seeing Keanu Reeves pulling a Kevin Bacon and showing us his butt ever again). Although, sometimes the sequels are good, like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If only the ending of Return of the King didn't end six times before it actually did, finally, end. This scene was officially where the the climax jumped the shark.

Yes, I went to college in the early 2000s, how can you tell? Also, do people still use the phrase "jump the shark"? Maybe I'll ask my years-younger-than-me coworkers when I'm not bothering them with computer questions because anything beyond Windows XP confounds the crud out of me.

Anyhow, once these frosty fruity frenzi-ful frisky frolics were found, I knew right where they truly belonged: in my belly.  Once summer begins roaring with heat rising and humidity spiking, any icy cool treat I can ingest to aid with chilling my body from the inside out, I'm down with.

To me, these are not disappointing in the least. As the picture suggests, there's three different flavor levels to work through. First up is grape. Starts off a little weak, if you ask me. I mean, it's not bad, but it doesn't taste overly grape-y. Granted, there's not a lot of added sugar (at least compared to the typical ice cream truck treat), so maybe that's why it tasted a little toned down. Sandy said the grape kinda reminded her of iced tea - in fact, she was a little surprised when I informed her it was, in fact, grape. Not that it really tastes like tea, just kinda like watered-down sweetness, which is what a lot of the local dairy swill masquerading as iced tea tastes like around these parts. Give me Rosenberger's over Turner's any day. Still, the Grape Level tasted alright, and not an awful way to start.

Next up: Tangerine. Light and citrusy. Otherwise, a little nondescript,but yummy nonetheless.A palate cleanser, almost, if you will, in order to make way for the truly great part: the blood orange. Oh man. This is where it got truly good, the flavorful finale, the citrusy climax, the orangey apex. Loved it. Powerfully sweet and a little tart, just like a truly great orange, delivering icy cool refreshment with a taste that pleasantly lingers. Loved it. 

Sandy actually liked the grape most of all, and didn't care for the tangerine or orange all that much; then again, she's not a citrus addict like me. Weirdo. Technically, I suppose we could share a popsicle and each get the parts we like without too much grumbling. After all, these are kinda mammoth. In case the picture doesn't give you a good sense of scale, they're about the exact same height as an iPhone, and while a couple smidges narrower on the width, the popsicles are much thicker on the depth. This wouldn't be a treat to give to a young kid and expect them to finish. Also, you'd have to have some OxyClean on stand by. I see what my toddler can do with a single M&M and am amazed. For something like $3 for the box of four, it's not a bad bargain at all. Sandy's lowballing with a two, so I'm overcompensating with my score, but only slightly.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Fruit Frenzy Bars II: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. The original fruit frenzy bars are delicious, other than the best flavor being raspberry at the tip, then a very intense lemon, and a decent, but not as amazing strawberry. Reverse the order and they'd be heavenly.

    Looking forward to trying the new ones, but I do wish they'd make the exact same popsicles, just narrower, maybe six to a box instead of four. The big ones can be hard to eat before they melt.

  2. These are intriguing, not just because your post sounded sorta dirty. Lol
    I can't wait to try these, blood orange anything at TJ's is usually a go for me.
    And yes, people do still say "jump the shark." :)