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, June 20, 2014

Trader Joe's Grand Slam

Veterans Stadium. Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Stade Olympique. (Old) Yankee Stadium. PNC Park. Jacobs/Progressive/whatever-its-called-these-days-in-Cleveland Field. Citizens Bank ParkFenway Park. Angel Stadium. Nationals Park. And, in a few weeks, Great American Ball Park.

Those, in rough chronological order, are the baseball stadiums I've been to. And yes, you're reading that right - I've been to a Montreal Expos home game. Can't do that anymore. No other place, except perhaps my grandparents' cabin, says summer to me like heading out to the ballpark to catch a game. Eventually I want to make my way to every park, except maybe that dreary prison (I didn't know you could move a stadium from Montreal to Tampa) or crazy neon funhouse down in Florida. I mean, seriously, ugh. Whatever. From catching the tail end of Mike Schmidt's career to seeing Mike Trout in the very early stages of his, all in person, there's little that beats a night at the ol' ballgame.

So, you need some snacks for that, right? Right. And if they not only keep kids happy but also go well with crappy, overpriced beer? Even better. That's why Cracker Jack is so popular. So, with venturing out with some Trader Joe's Grand Slam, TJ's is just maybe poking the bear a little. There's some classics, like Rollie Fingers' moustache, that you just don't mess with.

Let's see: a grand slam is the single best hit a baseball player can get, right? Well, this isn't Trader Joe's single best snack. It's okay - the popcorn itself is light and poofy with very little (if any) grungy kernal-ly undercarriage. I firmly appreciate all of that. The rest....ehhh. At least in our bag, the caramel seemed uneven from bite to bite - some bites seemed too overtly sweet while others were kinda bland. That leads me to believe it's either not very good caramel or there's something off in the production process.

And while the thought of adding almonds, cashews and pecans to the tried-and-true peanuts seem like a very intriguingly good idea, the byproduct is almost worthy of it's own blooper reel. Think about it. Of course all those nuts will be chopped up into little itty-bitty bits, then slatered in sticky caramel goop and hardened...so of course they're gonna form a nutty conglomeration worthy of only the sturdiest of molars to undertake. And of course based on weight and settling and shuffling and what not, the nut clusters will all sink to the bottom of the bag (you know, like, all four of them), so one must dig through all the poofy popcorn to get some nuts then risk an unscheduled dentist trip to enjoy them. Well, good thing they taste pretty good - it's caramel covered nuts, what did you expect?

I think the bag cost somewhere around $3, and while it's a tasty enough of snack...well, call me a traditionalist (I hate instant replay!!!!) but I gotta go for Cracker Jack instead - better caramel and no nutty nutbombs. Plus you get that awesome sticker or temporary tattoo inside. Not a bad attempt TJ's, but sometimes, less is more, and when you're going against a legend, you gotta bring your A game. It says something that Sandy, a much more fervent fan of caramel popcorn than I can ever aspire to be, was a little displeased as well, for much of the reasons above. This "grand slam" seems more of a fly out to the warning track - might still bring something home, but in the end, it's still a sacrifice.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Grand Slam: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

7 comments:

  1. Ohh I'll have to check this out! I'm also a big ballpark fan! I've been to all but 8 stadiums!

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    1. #jealous Which one has been your favorite so far?

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  2. Well, we are cosmically aligned, as I just bought this last night and ate the better part of the bag... at first I thought it was great. But then it started to seem just too sweet. I agree pretty much completely with you.

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  3. I picked this up tonight, and actually don't mind it all that much! I like how puffy and big the popcorn clusters are, but prefer the Crackr-Jack peanuts.

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  4. These people offer largely using the dental staffing vital behavior like research in popular items to make or maybe providers to present. Additionally,

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  5. So I just bought this today and excited to try it but was disappointed! Although it was tasty because I like caramel corn, that the bag contained mostly heavily coated caramel corn and very few nuts! In fact I found but one almond and just few peanuts and no evidence whatsoever of pecans and cashews! I feel ripped off on this product! :(

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  6. My question is: what's the point of the photo on the bag? I purchased this product based on this image and of course, once again, was completely and totally bamboozled. Where's said nuts? In the photo they are scattered graciously and randomly amidst all the golden caramel corn. But when you open the bag...NOTHING. Every nut is on the bottom. I thought it would be a nice alternative to PoppyCock. Wrong. Why not be more like the yogurt companies and state "fruit on the bottom" or, in the case , "nuts on the bottom". so that there are no surprises and you know exactly what you are in for. Maybe Trader Joe's should give some mixing instructions on the bag so as how to enjoy this snack properly

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