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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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Trader Joe's Chicago Style Popcorn Mix

I am and always have been a food separatist. I'm not an extreme separatist, mind you. I don't dislike turkey mixed with stuffing mixed with gravy or anything like that. But cheese mixed with caramel is a little weird to me. I thought I got that "food separatist" terminology from Seinfeld or some other popular TV show, but when I Googled the phrase, all that came up were obscure blog posts about picky eaters and recent news articles about the Ukrainian separatists that just happened to contain the word "food" for one reason or another.

I like caramel corn, and cheddar popcorn is okay, but I'm not thrilled at the idea of eating them together. The bag says it's the perfect combo of salty and sweet. If you could just take yummy sweet things and mix them up with yummy salty things all willy nilly like that, then why doesn't Trader Joe's sell Cookie Butter Ice Cream and Curried Chicken Salad together in one tub?

You remember those giant tins of plain popcorn, cheese popcorn, and caramel corn that you'd get from Aunt Edna at Christmas time? They had little paper dividers in between the flavors. There was a reason for those dividers. Food separation. It wasn't a big deal if you ate plain with cheese or even caramel with plain. But the one thing you always had to be careful to avoid was mixing the caramel with the cheese. Now I'm sure many of you will chime in and be like "I've always eaten cheese popcorn with caramel corn..." Well, good for you. Maybe you're just a bit more open-minded than I am when it comes to mixing races of popcorn together. I may be a little old-fashioned in that way. But to put them together in one bag with no dividers on purpose?

Does everyone in the Windy City have such flagrant disregard for proper food separation? Folks 'round here love their cheesesteaks and their water ice, but Rita's has had the good sense to avoid a beef and cheez whiz flavored gelati. Now, I'm probably getting a little carried away with my food separation hang-up and putting a negative spin on an otherwise perfectly decent product. After all, there are large, puffy pieces of popcorn, and individually, the coatings are quite tasty. And it's not the end of the world if you have to pick out all the brown pieces and eat them first before you start on the orange pieces, or vice versa. But in the end, there's really not enough in this product to elevate it above the myriad brands of flavored popcorn that already exist—except for maybe some spiffy packaging and reasonably not-bad-for-you ingredients. When it's all said and done, I can't go higher than three stars. Sonia gives this product three and a half stars. She's fine with this bizarre combo. If you're into the whole Trader Joe's popcorn thing, check out Cocoa Drizzled and Herbs and Spices varieties too, assuming they are both still available...

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

12 comments:

  1. As someone from Chicago, this popcorn in my opinion is up there with the famous Garrett's popcorn, just less greasy. I highly recommend this.

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    1. I am from central illinois, and I wholeheartedly agree with you!

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    2. I completely agree these are just like Chicago's famous and overly expensive Garrett's popcorn but better because they don't go stale and aren't as greasy as a Garrett's. I love these. Garrett's is iconic in Chicago.

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  2. I am looking forward to trying this, it looks delicious!

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  3. So, sir, did you try the cheddar and caramel popcorn pieces TOGETHER? I can't trust this review unless you took the plunge and ate it as GOD INTENDED. ;-)

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    1. I did TRY them together...

      and then immediately went back to eating them separately.

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  4. You mix your steak with cheese??? Are you crazy, man??!?!?!?!?

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  5. Have either of you gentlemen ever tried TJ's creamy polenta with spinach and carrots? It is insanely divine and extremely delicious. I give it an 11/10. http://static.squarespace.com/static/51d02899e4b0d391142b272c/t/526bd3f3e4b0b725baaee396/1382798339335/Top%2010%20at%20Trader%20Joe's.jpg

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  6. Whaaaat? This is blasphemy! In Chicago, we appreciate cheddar and caramel popcorn together and this mix is very well executed. I give it an A+ and I am not much of a popcorn fan.

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  7. I have always avoided those "Aunt Edna" tins of three kinds of popcorn all my life..always tasted stale and kind of gross. But my best friend turned me on to Trader Joes Chicago Style popcorn. Although extremely dubious at first, I was immediately hooked. Its like crack! Or heroin! It is sooo good and soooo addicting! I have to limit myself with great determination and resistance, to one bag per month. I could easily put away a bag a day! Trader Joes is a little out of my way and out of laziness or time constraints I've purchased other brands at local grocery stores...don't. Not nearly as good! Trader Joes Chicago Style Popcorn is my drug of choice! (next Friday night is my monthly purchase! Woooo!)

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