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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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Cream Cupcakes

After my review earlier this week of bacon-ated popcorn, a commenter asked me if I were fat. I gotta admit, the question made me pause for a minute to try and figure out what the motive was behind the question. Jest? Semi-anonymous Internet mockery? Something else? Meh, I answered honestly and straightforwardly: Nope. Well, my BMI says I am, slightly, but since August I've dropped sixty (as in six-zero) pounds by following a mostly Paleo diet, watching portions (usually - the bacon popcorn did not count!), and running every other morning (I'm training to run two legs of the Pittsburgh marathon relay in early May - anywhere from nine to twelve miles - at this time last year I could run/walk maybe a mile before wanting to pass out!). Feels so good to have found something that works for me after being of the chunky variety pretty much my entire existence thus far - my other health barometers besides weight are looking much, much better, too.

After some reflection and a polite exchange, I get where the question came from, though: We review a lot of junky food on this here blog. It probably gives the impression that I/we eat a lot of crap. The reason we do so is simple: a review on some healthyish juice, for example, will take all day to get the same number of hits that a review on whatever new-fangled cookie butter concoction* will get in a good hour. Supply and demand. While there's a lot of passion and love behind what we do, there's also a business side here.

All that to justify another junk item: Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Cream Cupcakes. We got these the other week, the same night as our ill-fated gamble sushi excursion. Perhaps in addition to being our allotted one treat for a week to string out over several desserts, I bought them as motivation to muster through whatever part of my dinner I could.

Well, they're decent. I wouldn't say great. But not bad. The real highlight of these cupcakes is the frosting and filling - I mean, go figure, right? On top there's a thick double layer of fudgy chocolate, with a little squirt of coconut cream, topped off with a chocolate covered almond. Imagine crossbreeding a Mounds bar with an Almond Joy, and that's pretty close to what we got going on here. Thick, rich, sugary and delicious. Texturally there wasn't too much of the typical coconut feel - indeed, pretty creamy.

And as you can see by the photo up above, in the middle of the cupcake there's a reservoir of even more coconut cream. Similar in taste but not consistency with the stuff on the summit, it's a good little touch, albeit a little ho-hum. I don't think that's the filling's fault, but rather the actual cake part. The cake itself is an average chocolate example at best - I think I've made better from a box mix. It's just kinda dull and dry and it mutes most bites instead of framing and balancing well.

Still, everything but the cupcake part of the cupcake was pretty tasty. They're not tempting enough to make me want to break my diet by any stretch, but the cupcakes did serve as a nice little cheat a few times - usually I split one with my daughter. At $3.99 for the set of the four, they're a decent enough value, I guess, but not astounding. Sandy liked the frosting and all a little more than me, giving these guys a four overall, while I counter with a three.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Coconut Cream Cupcakes: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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* Keep tuned for an exciting product announcement coming next week - can't say anything more than that right now!

14 comments:

  1. Are you planning to review the dove bread?

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    1. Haven't seen it but we'll be on the lookout.

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  2. I, for one, will click on savories far more than sweets. [But I did read this one - even though I would never try one...must be your writing that really attracts me!]

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    1. Aww, you're too sweet yourself - I'll savor your comment! :)

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  3. Haters gonna hate on something great? It wouldn't matter to me if you reviewed ONLY junk. I am always going to branch out and get adventurous with healthy TJ options on my own. Kale Sprouts, Rainbow Carrots, Cruciferous Crunch, Beets.... I find my way to these... But I would never know about Cookie Butter if it weren't for you guys. I usually go right away to get whatever you review for the family to try. I use your blog as a guide to new products I would overlook. I never really buy treats on my own. I check in with you guys every day and you are by far my fave blog in the world. I have told our local TJ staff as often as I can that you sent me in! I love your wit, banter, insight and both you guys rock! Never doubt that what you are putting out into the world is helpful and brightens someone's day!

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  4. Ps... My seven year old had the Baconesque popcorn in her backpack as a surprise snack today. She nearly lost her mind... BEST MOM EVER... And were it not for you, I would have walked right by it.

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    1. Haha, awesome! Glad we're funny AND hepful. Thanks for your kind words. :)

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    2. I second that. Thanks, Elizabeth, for your comments and compliments!

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  5. There are always going to be commenters on *any* webpage who are quick to say you are a) stupid, b) ugly, or c) fat. Or any combination of the three. Your commenter may have been asking a legitimate question out of curiosity, which is fair, but a tad obnoxious just the same. I hope you won't feel the need to justify or qualify the less-than-healthy treats in future posts. I love reading food blogs and reviews whether I will actual purchase or not. They're fun and you do a great job. Keep up the great work.

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  6. I think you guys have a good mix of healthy and unhealthy products but I like seeing the fun specialty products which are normally unhealthy... I don't want to read a review on carrots or frozen fruit or something lol. Don't change we love your reviews the way they are! :) and congrats on your weight loss! You deserve a treat now and then

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  7. Review what you want. It's your site. I like seeing a mix of items reviewed on here. The commenter was rude (imagine that, a rude internet commenter) to ask you about your weight.

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