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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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Trader Joe's Sweet, Hot & Savory Honey Roasted Cocoa & Chili Peanuts & Almonds with Roasted Salted Pecans

Three adjectives. Three major flavors. Three nuts. Three ampersands (a TJ's first?). Three minutes to type out the name, and three breaths to say it all. Can you say it three times fast? Not me, at least not easily.

Yup, Trader Joe's Sweet, Hot & Savory Honey Roasted Cocoa & Chili Peanuts & Almonds with Roasted Salted Pecans. What an epic name. I suppose something like "Triple Nut Treat" sounds a little too, well, oddly suggestive, and I cracked enough "thanks for taking pictures of my nuts to put online" jokes to Sandy to continue down that track, so let's back up and just look at that name in all its 105-character glory.

Even just as an acronym: TJSH&SHRC&CP&AWRSP. Dang. But once you get over the length of it, just look at it al. Don't know you about you, but man - I was intrigued. Honey, chocolate and chili powder, on a perfectly great assortment of roasted nuts. Sounds promisingly, presumptuously and preposterously pleasant, piquant and palatable, and for just $4.99 for a not-quite-a-pound, like a bargain, too.

 Well, I wish I were a little more bowled over, I guess. It's not a bad sack o' nuts by any means. Though predominantly peanuts (as one would expect), there's more than ample almonds and pecans mixed in. Though pecans are further down the ingredients list than almonds, our particular bag seemed to have more pecans than almonds, which I think is a great thing. Almonds have always been the disappointment of the nut family to me - nothing personal, but they don't do it for me as much as a pecan or cashew or macadamia.

Regardless, in case you got lost in the product name (it happens), it's just the peanuts and almonds that are honey roasted then blasted with cocoa and chili powder. Not any of those flavors really stand out though. Instead, the dominant flavor upon first bite really seems to be the nuts themselves - crunchy, meaty, earthy, like any good roasted nut. A few seemed perhaps a little over-roasted but not by terribly much - could have been more a visual deception than actual reality. There's a little sweet twinge from the honey, and the chocolate chili dust is noticeable and it adds a nice taste, but it's more accompaniment than main feature. There's only a slight residual burn too, so if spice is a concern, you're probably okay here unless your palate is super-sensitive.

Of course, this dark dust slips off the peanuts and almonds and makes its way over to the pecans as well as a virtual powder reservoir towards the bottom of the bag. I expected to unearth some potent flavor when I started mining that particular area, but to be honest, not that much more came out. On one hand, I get it - keep a mellow balance, have a great little easily munchable snack, placate the masses, more or less. But on the other, I wish the flavor were a little more bold, with each flavor - honey, chocolate and chili - more amped up to a more distinctive taste. As is, it all tastes a little more muddied than anything else.

I can't debate that these super-long titled nuts are fairly decent as is, though. The wife, without much elaboration, concurs. I probably exasperated her enough with too many offline nut jokes for her to add much more than that. Appropriately enough, though, we both are going with the same score: Three.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet, Hot & Savory Honey Roasted Cocoa...seriously, I give up: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


  1. I have to agree...I am all about spicy sweet nut mixes but this one just seemed "muddy" as you said. And messy...I tried snacking during a long drive and my finger were covered in dust and I was getting the spices everywhere...I gave up.

  2. I need to vent...I LOVE Trader Joe's. Probably more than is rational, but I'm ok with that. But for the past year or so I've been frustrated with their stocking/product availability. I'm single, so my grocery list is not very long, but every time I go they are out of at least two things I want. Either it's a supply issue, or the company has needed to find a new supplier, "or we order it and it doesn't come on the truck". I find a product I love, begin to count on, the then it disappears! If I'm lucky it will be back in stock eventually, but that is often not the case. Thanks for understanding!

  3. When I was last at Trader Joe's I could not find these Sweet, Hot & Savory nuts. I asked a clerk to investigate. She said they have been discontinued. These are the only nuts I have been buying. I love them. I am not happy to not find these.

  4. Right. They always discontinue my favorite things. Like I just found it, how is it discontinued so fast!? At least give it a year or more to catch on. These were so good!