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, October 15, 2015

Trader Joe's Magic Beans

It's easy enough to see Trader Joe's Magic Beans and make the allusion to Jack and the Beanstalk, or if you're all hip and cool and into today's musicals, Into The Woods, but I'm not going there. I mean, if I traded my cow for these beans, maybe, but I digress.

Nope, going with the tried and true classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Not that there were any magic beans in that classic novel brought to life on the screen by Gene Wilder (totally ignoring you here, Johnny Depp, go prance somewhere else). But...wouldn't it be cool if Willy Wonka made actual magic chocolate beans? He made everlasting gobstoppers, a chocolate bar you could reach into your TV and grab, a chocolate river...why not a magic candy bean?

If these TJ choco-beans could conjure up any magical power, I know which one I'd want it to be: plant a chocolate tree in my stomach so I could stop craving chocolate practically nonstop. Over the past year, I've practically choked off almost all of my other candy cravings (I can resist Reese's products and Take 5s like a pro by now)...but chocolate? For whatever reason, it's grown only stronger, and it'd be so nice to have something in my tummy to make it stop. That way, I wouldn't have to end up making a video like these for the Jimmy Kimmel show after my kids go trick-or-treating...except it'd be real.

Well, I'm pretty sure that cocoa plant in my innards isn't going to happen with the lack of sunlight, soil, and basic science and all, but that doesn't mean I don't want to keep on planting these beans down in my tummy anyways. There's three different main colors - brown, green, and white - which are kinda marbley in appearance and identical in taste. The thick, candy shellacked shell (thicker than typical M & M) gives way to some pretty basic milk chocolate with an almond nougat middle. Pretty big beans, overall, with the nougat core taking up about half the insides, and adding a big ol' solid crunch.

Yes, a solid crunch, all the way through. Interesting. When I hear the word "nougat" I think of the stuff that resides inside something like a 3 Muskateers bar, and not this almost-but-not-quite toffee-esque substance in the middle with some almonds adding some girth. Some quick hack research on the matter (i.e., good ol' Wikipedia) reveals that not only what the 'murican standard of nougat is is something that's not quite the real stuff (go figure), but also that there's such thing as "brown nougat" or "nougatine" that is firm, crunchy, and made without egg whites. So that's what's on the inside here, in case you, like me, were expecting a soft iddle and were surprised by the wholly solid core.

Overall, the magic beans aren't a bad confection by any stretch. Just a few will really do the trick for a quick cocoa pick-me-up, and there is a small novelty factor to them. But while we both like them, neither Sandy nor I are particularly bowled over by them. That may be partially because the candies weren;t what we were exactly expecting, which doesn't make them less tasty, but maybe just more aware of our ignorance to the larger world of nougat out there. I'm also pretty sure to have any chance of these taking root and growing into that cocoa plant, I'd have to swallow a bean whole, and they're much too big for that - potential choke hazard for small kids, I'd think. Also, the price seems perhaps slightly high - $3.99 for a 7.7 ounce bag - which isn't horrible, but I'm used to a better value from TJ's. Cost less than a cow, though. Matching 3.5's here.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Magic Beans: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons



  1. Why not a Willy Wonka Magic Chocolate Bean you ask? Well, Wonka's offerings were scientific inventions, not magical, right?

    Also, a chocolate tree in your stomach is not a practical solution to your cravings. Branches would grow out your ears, nose and throat! Little marshmallow peeps will nest on them every Easter.

    Hmm..what would be a better solution?....the ability to produce chocolate saliva at will?? Ooh ooh! Turn your belly button into an everlasting M&M! Whenever you get a craving, just press it and it dispenses one candy piece.

    What am I talking about here? Let me get back to work. LOL :-)

    1. Bwahahaha...amazing. I love it. And yes, that would be better. :)

  2. These have neat packaging and would make a fun gift, at least.