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, October 3, 2014

Trader Joe's Salt and Pepper Pistachios

"I eat because I'm unhappy. I'm unhappy because I eat. It's a vicious cycle." - Fat Bastard

Well, for me, that's not entirely true...but I definitely still "stress eat," one can say. Recent case in point: the other night, sitting in Section 315 at PNC Park, having plopped down  a couple days' pay for the wifey and I to witness the NL Wild Card Game, our beloved Pirates vs. the San Fransisco Giants...just to watch our Buccos go down in flames. Not long after Brandon Bleepin' Crawford hit his fourth inning grandslam I grabbed the half pound bag of gas station pistachios I bought on the way to the game and promptly pretty much demolished them. Then I was so desperate for a beer I gave a vendor $9 for a Miller Lite (which I rank as only slightly better than this swill). If only that Yuengling hawker came by 5 minutes sooner...

Did it make anything better? Of course not. Pirates ended up losing 8-0, with half the crowd leaving in the seventh inning (excuse me, but that's seriously lame, Pittsburgh). And to much a smaller and less disappointing extent, those pistachios, although tasty, weren't Trader Joe's Salt and Pepper Pistachios.

These TJ pistachios are awesome. Although I must warn you right out front: you must really, really, really like-a ze pepper to stand a shot of being able to ingest these. It's not a light little sprinkle of some table variety pepper; it's more like this kinda thing being pushed on your taste buds. The first couple nuts I had, I thought I just picked a particularly strong few by chance - nope. Each pistachio is handily sea salted and black-and-red-peppered with a powerful spicy dose that will clear sinuses and knock out the unsuspecting. Heartburn warning. Yet, despite the potent spice, the taste of the pistachio still shines through in all its natural nutty glory.

Gotta pick a small quibble, though. The 13 ounce bag cost $7.49, which if my math is right (we've never really hit it off) equates to a little over $9.20 a pound. The aforementioned convenience store pickups I wolfed down? Four bucks for the half a pound (so $8 for a full pounder). Granted, the TJ's were better, but if you'd assume a more reasonable price at a historically inexpensive grocery chain versus the gas station mark up, you'd be wrong here. Pepper isn't that pricey...is it? Seems like other TJ nut prices have gone up - don't think I didn't notice that extra buck this past time, cashew butter.

"These get kinda intense," Sandy said as we both munched a couple handfuls down, noting how they made her tongue burn. "It's not exactly what I think of when I think about pepper - it's just really, really strong." Ah, but it's a burn so good, I say. She's going with a three, while I'm going for just a notch below perfection.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Salt and Pepper Pistachios: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. I LOVE these, but I can only eat a couple at a time, because like you said... they are very intense, and I can't handle spicy foods. My ex- who loved spicy foods could down a whole bag quicker than I even noticed they were gone

  2. haven't seen these yet... have u or Nathan tried Hatch Valley Salsa? its NOT in the refrigerated section... they say its new and I have to say its one of the better green salsas... its spicy and definitely has a kick

    1. Hatch Valley Salsa - now that sounds awesome! will be on the look out - always love a good salsa verde.

  3. Love these nuts, good low calorie fiber for a nut and quite tasty.

  4. Tried these pistachios after I read about them here. Great stuff! A real pepper kick, flavor kind of like the TJ salt-and-pepper potato chips. And yes, you do taste the pistachios. Finished at least half a bag before I realized I should stop...

    I also second the Hatch salsa. Really tasty, makes me pine for Albuquerque where they douse everything in hatch chiles. Used this and the TJ garlic-coffee rub to marinate a ribeye yesterday and it was delicious!