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, January 16, 2015

Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley and Trader Joe's Just Mango Slices

Particularly astute readers may notice that thus far in 2015, we've been persistently (perhaps overwhelmingly) positive and glowing in our reviews. I mean, in the four previous reviews this month, there's been not one, not two, but three new pantheon entries? Those are some hallowed halls there, and we don't just hand out that badge to just anyone. For proof, it took three months for Nathan and I to give out our last three crested jackets (which seemed a bit quick then, but for primarily cookie butter-related reasons, we had no choice), and I, Russ, once went over a year between giving out pantheon grades (see here and here - again, the cookie butter!) , so three Hall of Fame passes in four reviews is really quite something.

Of course, look at what we reviewed. Salted caramel gelato - how can that not be awesome? Oh, it is. Sriracha bacon jerky- how can that not be awesome? Oh, it is. And organic sriracha and garlic barbeque sauce...well, you get the drift. Listen, if something sucks, we'll tell you. Like this. Or this. Or especially this. Big Joe isn't paying us to spread his gospel, we just picked a particularly good run of products, is all.

So let's take a step back and focus on something not so flashy - like raisins and mangoes!

I can't imagine how different my childhood would be if I associated the word "raisin" with things like Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley, and not the smushed up dry fruit shards in a tiny cardboard box that the neighborhood jerk gave out on Halloween, or the sinking "oh wait, that's not chocolate chip" feeling of not inspecting that oatmeal raisin cookie closer. I'd probably like raisins a lot more, because man, these are much different. These raisins are big and full and fleshy and full of bite, and the fact there's three kinds in there - what I'd call "regular" dark jumbo raisins (tastes like a raisin raisin), golden (lighter flavor, still plenty sweet) and then the exotic sounding red flame raisins (the most vibrant of the three) - make them a great snack. They work just as well eating as a small or large handful, one type or all three at a time. For $3.69 for a one pound bag, it's not a bad deal.

And as far as Trader Joe's Just Mango Slices go - listen, obviously, if mangoes are your thing, you'll like them. There's nothing funky added on, unlike that well-intentioned fling while chile powder that didn't go over so great, or any extra sugar or preservatives or weird stuff - it's, as the name implies, just mango slices, dehydrated to a chewy, sticky, state. It's like fruit jerky. And beware if you have some intricate dental work or sensitive teeth - once dampened by saliva, these fruity fellas will find a way to stick to any part of your enamel possible. Have toothpicks on hand for extraction missions, you'll need them. $2.99 seems like an okay price, although I wonder why the other mango slices with stuff added to them are half the price.

The jumbo raisins and mango slices are being reviewed together because I feel basically the same way about them both - I'm not overly impressed by either one, yet I've picked them both up several times to keep primarily as a work desk drawer snack stash. It's fruit, it's healthy, it's easily portable, and a bag of each will last me a week for a reasonable price, so while not overly special, they're worthy enough to be considered a staple, at least for me. Good to know Trader Joe's can do that kinda stuff well, too.

Bottom lines:
Trader Joe's Jumbo Raisin Medley: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
Trader Joe's Just Mango Slices: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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