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 9, 2015

Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips


Err, I mean, yay! Finally, a perfectly seasonal item from Trader Joe's that has nothing to do with anything even remotely resembling a pumpkin or any of its usual camaraderie of spices. It's about freakin' time.

How are Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips "seasonal" you ask? Well - Halloween is just a few weeks away! And these are ghost peppers we're talkin' 'bout here, Willis. Although, as grammatically improper a statement it is, I don't believe in no ghosts. But ghost peppers? Listen: Anything that has potential to melt your face off as if you just peered at the Ark of the Covenant ought to be feared and respected. Although not the most capitally capsacin-incapacitated peppers out there...those suckers are hot! Beware!

So, it was with some fear and trembling that Sandy and I ripped open our bag the other night, and with even more trepidation that I took my first waft in preparation of placing one of these potentially unholy tater wafers in my mouth. Hrmm...not picking up much here. A quick glance brought to mind sour cream and onion chips almost - a dusty cakey coating of some type with little dark specks. And I got my first good luck at the chips unique (to me, at least) structure of being lattice cut - I've seen waffle fries and ridged chips, but never some combination of those. Maybe that's just my general chip world ignorance speaking there. Anyways, I said a quick prayer, gulped, and prepared for first bite...

Crunchy. Very crunchy and crispy yet lighter and airier due to design - in some ways it was like eating a flattened sheet of potato sticks, which I say as a compliment. Great texture, great munch. Then the flavor started sinking in...smokey, a little mesquitey, a small hint of sweetness, a scant of burn - hey, wait a second here! I just described a pretty adequate barbecue chip. And honestly, that's what these supposedly spicy suckers tasted a lot like, except with a little tingle on the afterburn. The spicy seemed to build a bit with each successive chip, but never to the point of unpleasantry. In some ways, after such a huge ramping up to get myself psyched, it was a big letdown.

Not. Hot. But don't take my word for it. Take my toddler's, who's adventurous as a three year old can be when it comes to food, but shies away from most spicy stuff. She insisted on trying a chip, though, and with some hesitation, Sandy and I offered her one, milk cup and tear rags ready to go just in case. "Yummy!" she exclaimed. "I wike these." I asked if her if she thought they were spicy, and she said "No, maybe just a little bit."

So, there you have it - another exotic sounding TJ chip which turned out to be more BBQy than truly unique. In some ways, I'm somewhat relieved of that - the munch factor was extremely high, so it was nice to not be inhibited by spice overload. But in others, I'm kinda disappointed - I wanted these pepper chips to have enough heat to scare me away a little, but be enough of a treat to keep me coming back for more.

For $2.29, they're tough to argue with, though. Sandy enjoyed them enough to give them a four, mostly for texture and crunch (seriously, try eating just one or two - not gonna happen) which seems around right to me. A little more spooky spice would send them over the top, but their overall tastiness isn't an apparition.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ghost Pepper Potato Chips: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons    


  1. Hey, it took forever for this page to load... what is with the huge Dietz ad? as well as the other ads? btw did u see Guy's Grocery Games where they used Ghost Chips as their challenge ingredient? Reason I mention it is that the TJ's packaging was the same as the one they had on tv... tho the chips weren't the same color as what u show.

    1. Same here.Multiple videos trying to play and send sound through the speakers. The webpage jerks up and down because it is trying to load more ads. I'll have to just follow on FB and stop visiting the page. Took five attempts to comment this because of the page flipping on me due to the ads below.

    2. Hrmm, strange...we recently started working with another ad content provider and haven't noticed these issues, but yeah, that sounds awful. What browser are you guys using? There's a couple extra ads but nothing ought to be that obtrusive

    3. Using Chrome.. Your site is the only one that's affected.. I notice therre are Barnes and Noble ad on the right side.. funny how it shows some of the books i was just looking for....

  2. I'm not having any issues but the adds that are coming up are clearly based on my cookies. So issues may be related to the browsing history on the computer others are using.

  3. I was excited about these when I saw them. Asked if they had serious heat and they popped a bag open for me to try. Sweet. Waited for the heat. Never came. Did not purchase.
    Currently looking for Pacqui Haunted Ghost Pepper Chips, which are usually available at Halloween,

  4. I bought these and was terribly disappointed. No heat. What is wrong with you, Joe? If you put the words ghost pepper on the front of a package, people are going to buy it expecting heat.

  5. I bought these and was terribly disappointed. No heat. What is wrong with you, Joe? If you put the words ghost pepper on the front of a package, people are going to buy it expecting heat.

  6. Yeah - these are not even in the same universe as ghost pepper - pathetic. Good tasting chips if you aren't expecting heat, but the packaging sets you up for way more...

  7. Definitely tasty - and good chips - but agree with everyone else that they just don't have the spice expected (or promised to my by the TJs employee that recommended them!).