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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Monday, August 1, 2016

Trader Joe's Sweetened Dried Orange Slices

We've seen plenty of zombified fruits from Trader Joe's before: applesbananasbaby bananas, and even other oranges. For the most part, I think those dried fruit snacks have been successful. They're sweet enough to be desserty, but natural enough not to wreck most diets. In all those previous cases, they seemed to capture the innate essence of the fruit and candy-ify it—in some cases without even adding any sugar.

Not only is there plenty of sugar here, but these don't really taste like oranges. I mean, I know they're made of orange slices. And they're definitely citrusy. But I think what throws me off is that they left the rind on. And I've mentioned before that I'm not huge into eating orange peels. I don't know many people who are. 

Perhaps there's a reason why Trader Joe's suggests you do things with this product other than eat it. The back of the packaging recommends using them as garnish on cocktails or as decorations for cakes and cookie platters. On that front, I can't really argue with them. Orange is my favorite color, and I've never minded splashes of it here and there. The write-up on the wrapper also insists that you can consume the attractive little slices, but it does so quite unconvincingly. "This stuff's non-toxic, we promise!"*

Once opened, the package gives off a bizarre fermented fragrance—not unlike what I'd imagine marmalade left in the sun might smell like after a day or so. The taste is a little more pleasant than the aroma in my opinion, but again, the bitterness of the rind spoils a good bit of the sweet flavor of the fruit itself. The slices are sticky with sugar, somewhat difficult to chew, and bits of the candied fruit cling tenaciously to your teeth once you've begun masticating.

Orange is the new blecch!

Sonia was even more repulsed than I was. She literally exclaimed, "Oh God! That's awful!" upon first bite. I think this is her first time giving ZERO stars to a product. I'll give them a generous one and a half, mostly for their decorative value. This might be a return here. Or we might throw a cocktail party and put them to use as garnish, as mentioned above. If the drinks are strong enough, some of our guests might even get crazy enough to eat them.

Bottom line: 1.5 out of 10.

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*That's not actually written on the packaging.

11 comments:

  1. 140 calories and 31g sugar for 3 orange slices!! Orange slices jelly candy has less calories and grams sugar for the same serving sice. I don't even need to taste it to give it 0 stars.

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    1. Yup. 31 of the 40 grams is sugar! I spotted these early thois week, decided not to give them a try as I don't eat as much dried fruit as I think I do (based on a few half-eaten packages in the pantry.) Looking at the nutrition info (which I didn't do) would've made it a definite no-buy.

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  2. I love these and only wish they offered a chocolate dipped version too

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    1. You could do it at home! Just buy some chocolate and dip these.

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  3. I think maybe if you use in cooking. As orange chicken maybe this would be useful. Rehydrate in orange juice maybe to give it flavor for orange cakes. Just return to the store. I do applaud TJ's creativity to find new products but sometimes it is a flop

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    1. That's an interesting idea. As much as I disliked them, I would totally try dropping them in orange juice for a while just to taste the result.

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  4. I really like these a lot, although the rind was inedible. I threw one in a cup of coffee, and shockingly it was really good.

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  5. My husband and I really enjoy these. They remind us of our time in Italy and France where they made an event of candying orange and lemon slices. They use them in their cooking, sliced thin and dipped in chocolate, minced and used in Florentine Cookies or T.J.'s refers to the same cookie (sans orange rind) as Lacey's. We do eat them as is...it's our sugar allowance for the day. Hey, we sneak them in, we like them that much. Great for Vitamin C perhaps!
    Love your blog...thanks for the time you set aside for it.

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  6. I'm head over heels in love with these things. I've always loved candied orange, and so these are right up my alley -- sweet, rich, with that bittersweet rind. I'm stocking up in case they're too 'weird' for TJ shoppers and discontinued soon.

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  7. I find it really mysterious that the vast majority of facebook comments agreed with our assessment of this product and yet these vague, barely-used blogger and livejournal accounts disagree here on the blog.

    Oh well, more for you guys, I guess.

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  8. I just googled these because I just discovered and wanted to see what people were using them for and what they had to say. I am so shocked - lol. I LOVE these - I don't eat cookies or other sweets so this is a great little snack (2 or 3 a day). I also chopped up a couple and put in glass with vodka and mango polar seltzer for a yummy cocktail!

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