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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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce and Marinade

If you took a listen to our most recent podcast episode, in addition to hearing some things you probably didn't want to about Nathan's and my eating quirks as well as inappropriate jokes about babies and microwaves, you also probably picked up on my excitement over the newest addition to the barbecue sauce lineup, Trader Joe's Organic Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce and Marinade. I mean, I was downright giddy. Down, boy.

Then again, if something can make a slab of tofu taste downright deeeeelish, well, it's got something going for it. Not that I hate tofu. It just absorbs whatever flavor you put on it.

All that being said, it's probably a good thing I waited a few days to declare my official verdict on this here new-fangled condimental concoction.


Okay, it's better than that. But not nearly as good as I thought amidst all my excitable nervous hyperventilation that's now out there for all the world to hear.

The base flavor is a pretty strong typical tomato, with a heavy, heavy dose of molasses and sugar. Looking over the ingredients, I saw molasses listed probably three or four times...that's a lot of molasses. Poor moles. That makes a fairly potent base, but there's more going on than just that. Pineapple juice and little itty bitty chunks of what I presume are zested orange peel make a citrusy component that enhances and deepens the sugary tones, plus the typical spices like black pepper, garlic and cloves add some heat to the sweet. So, the sauce offers sort of a three way triple threat of multidimensional flavor, in reasonable balance and proportion, though subsequent samplings tasted a little more discombobulating than the initial encounters.

Problem is, I think, the consistency. I'm hesitant to use the words "thin" and "runny", but it sure ain't "thick" and "gloopy". While that may make it easier to use as a marinade, it come up a little short for my typical lunch of seared chicken breast bites. While other sauces, like the Organic Sriracha or Apple Bourbon, are thick enough to retain consistent flavor during cooking, refrigeration, transportation and reheating....this isn't. There was a literal pool of salad dressing-y oily runoff at the bottom of my Tupperware, leaving only a sugary sweet thin coating on my chicken. No twinge of heat. No nothing else. Kinda disappointing, I must say.

Regardless, if served right away, this does taste pretty great over chicken, or for dipping some fries in, or for whatever else kinda BBQ sauce needs you may have. Without too much stretch of imagination, I'd make pulled pork with this fairly happily. I have a feeling, though not tested, that burgers and meatloaf and the like would probably be better off with something else, though.

Still, for $2.99, it's worth a try. Sandy and I will probably pick it up now and again, for as long as it's around, despite our middle of the road take after our initial impression wore off. Take our score and split amongst it however you see fit, it'll be pretty close.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce and Marinade: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons


  1. I put it in the meatloaf. Betcha didn't even notice.

    1. I thought maybe you did but wasn't gonna ask in front of your mom :p