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, September 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Half Moon Cookies

I've already mentioned Seinfeld's Black and White Cookie on this blog once long ago. "Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony." But it really needs to be brought up again. Because this product essentially IS the Black & White Cookie. TJ's offering doesn't look quite as large as traditional B&W's, but other than that, they're remarkably similar in appearance.

Apparently very popular among New York's Jewish population, these cookies have been a mainstay at NYC bakeries for many generations. Trader Joe's went with "Half Moon" here, perhaps to deliberately avoid the stereotypes that go along with "Black & White Cookie," however, according to this article, penned by someone far more familiar with the history of these fun pastries than I am, a "Half Moon Cookie" is a devil's food cookie iced with chocolate and vanilla frostings. Cookies with a soft vanilla dough, such as these, are most definitely Black & White Cookies. The author of that article goes so far as to call people who refer to Black & White Cookies as Half Moon Cookies "philistines," and he points out that Black & White Cookies should be more accurately referred to as "Apartheid Cookies," which I found quite amusing, but that's neither here nor there in terms of this product review.

What is important is that these particular Trader Joe's brand cookies really aren't much to get excited about. I enjoyed the softness of the cookie part—and I liked that it wasn't too sweet. But I found both the chocolate and vanilla fondants to be somewhat disappointing. Each side featured a vague vanilla or chocolate flavor, respectively, but neither was a taste I was eager to return to. The fondants were far more firm than the cookie itself, and in a way, I felt like they ruined the nice texture of the doughy part. Sonia felt the same way. If anything, she was even more bored by these than I was, flavor-wise.

There's nothing particularly unappetizing about them, either. We snacked on them from time to time and didn't find it very hard to get through the package, but we weren't exactly fighting over who got the last one. In the end, they're just not particularly memorable.

Two and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.


  1. Haven't tried these but have had others.. I don't see what the big deal is about B&W cookies...they're just double dipped w/2 different icings, right?

    1. I grew up with these cookies in NYC. I think the legend between the cookies is when a mother came in with 2 kids at Zaro's bakery and the 1 kid want chocolate and the other one vanilla. So the baker decided to frost two sides cookies and that how it was born.

  2. There seems to be come confusion about the name of these cookies. Black and white cookies and half moon cookies, although somewhat similar are distinct types of cookies. Black and white cookies are the ones found in the NYC area, while half moons originated in Central New York. Here is an article about this: http://drivinginertia.com/3836/history-of-half-moon-black-and-white-cookie/

    1. Yeah, that's basically the same info in the article I linked to in the 2nd paragraph. The author of that article mentions that Half Moons are from Utica, NY but that many people still call Black and Whites "Half Moons" incorrectly.

    2. So are these more like half moons or black and whites? Half moons tend to have fudgey and buttercream like but thick frosting and moist cake base (not cookie-like). Black and whites have a harder fondant icing and a drier cake base that is more cookie-like.

    3. According to the article I linked to, Half Moons are made of devil's food and Black and whites are made of soft vanilla dough, so based on what I know, these are more similar to Black and whites. Also the fondant icing on these is fairly hard.

  3. True B x W cookies are da bomb!!! While true ones seem to usually have a wonderful lemon tang to the cake part (Pasticceria Rocco in NYC's West Village, for example), the Trader Joe ones do not. That's all-too-common today, sadly. Still, in Seattle, where I reside, I'll take these over any black & whites available here (Whole Foods ones are not as good and the few other places that have them carry the cheapened versions common at gas stations in NYC's 'tri-state area.'