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, July 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango & Strawberry Flatbread

Well since Mr. Shelly is retiring from the wonderful world of mango product reviews, I guess it's up to me to keep the mango insanity astir on this blog. And even under threat of home invasion and sedation, that mango cookie butter is MINE! You'll never get within a hundred feet of our house without our Alfred and Sadie-driven home security system barking us awake, Russ. NEVER!

Be that as it may, I'm sure that yet another mango review is not only encouraging Big Joe to make more of these mango products, but it's also annoying the heck out of half of our readers. (Please see survey at the bottom of this review.) But honestly, I think this product is worth a looksee. It's a complicated product, far more sophisticated than most of the mango offerings we've seen this past month or so.

First of all, we have to be familiar with the Law of Balsamic Reduction. It states that "any rectangular flatbread with balsamic drizzle can be reduced into exactly five smaller rectangular flatbreads with sides exactly one fifth the size of the original rectangle, but despite maintaining the same side to side ratio, all toppings, including balsamic reduction drizzle, shall be unevenly distributed across said flatbreads." In layman's terms, this means that once cut into smaller slices, some pieces of flatbread will have tons of toppings and others will have very little—specifically, the end pieces will have an unfavorable bread to topping ratio.

Never has the Law of Balsamic Reduction been more apparent than with this ambitious attempt at a gourmet appetizer. Nevertheless, the center pieces of our flatbread came out quite tasty, in my opinion, flaunting two delicious fruits, wilted arugula, and varying amounts of the aforementioned sweet balsamic reduction drizzle. Sonia thinks the mango and balsamic together resulted in a taste too intense for her tongue. She doesn't think they clashed exactly—she just thinks one or the other would have provided adequate sweetness and that both together was overkill. I'll agree that they were both quite sweet, but they were two very different kinds of sweet, if that makes sense. 

It's definitely a roller coaster ride for the taste buds, but you know, every once in a while, I really like to take my tongue on the big boy rides.

If you're open to a suave kind of sweetness, I recommend this product wholeheartedly. My biggest complaints would be that there weren't nearly enough strawberries and that the toppings were unevenly distributed. The balsamic reduction sauce did come in a separate packet that I put on myself, so I guess if that was unevenly distributed, I only have myself to blame.

I give this product four and a half stars. Sonia will only spring for three.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.


  1. I tried this hoping it would be good, and I found it to be unpalatably sweet and the spinach tasted like unseasoned frozen or canned spinach. It was not a purchase I will be repeating.

  2. no words are needed. pic is worth a thousand not-so-nice words...