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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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Brandy Beans

Prior to picking up this product, I had never even heard of brandy beans. If I had been asked what brandy beans were, I probably would have pulled something out of my backside along the lines of "Brandy beans are the beans used in the brewing process and fermentation of American brandy," trying to sound erudite and edumacated. And most of you would have believed me. Sorry, I guess that could be construed as an insult. Some of you would have believed me. Maybe.

Are these even a holiday item? They were released (or re-released?) at exactly the same time as a million other holiday-related items, so I guess they are. I guess getting blitzed on brandy is sort of a holiday-ish thing to do—or at least a holiday party-ish thing to do. Unfortunately—er, I mean fortunately, you can't get crunk off of these little brandy beans alone. You need to pair them with actual brandy in order to achieve that effect—even though there is a bit of real brandy in each bean. There's a fascinating spiel on the back of the box indicating "sale of this product to persons under the legal age for purchasing alcoholic beverages is unlawful." Wow. I certainly didn't even get a buzz from the product's 4.9% alcohol content, but maybe the youngsters could if they ate the whole box.

Because again, these chocolates are actually filled with real brandy. And it tastes like brandy, but thicker and much sweeter. The brandy filling almost has the consistency of maple syrup or honey. Somehow, it works with the chocolate. The packaging doesn't specify that it's "dark chocolate," but it certainly seems darker than your average milk chocolate to me. The moderate bitterness of the chocolate helps offset the sticky sweetness of the liquid center. It's a nice combo, and one that I've never had before.

Sonia reacted similarly: pleased, but not blown away. If brandy and chocolate is your thing, then you're probably more qualified to review these than I am, and we'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Double 3.5's from Sonia and I.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.


  1. These sound mildly fascinating.How about mixed with some vanilla or chocolate ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce?

    1. Yeah that's a good idea. This might work with ice cream and chocolate sauce...

  2. These are traditional German Christmas treats! YUM!! We look for them every year :-)

    1. Yeah the box mentioned they were a German tradition. Crazy I'd never heard of them til now.

  3. Love them and your Blog! I never want to miss a great TJ's find! Have you tried the Nourish TJ's All-in-one Facial Cleanser. Both my husband and I love it!! Actually we love most of TJ's skin care products. You should try it...I think many people forget TJ's has many nonfood items! The cleanser is only $5.99! How does TJ's do this? I'm a fan!

  4. I get 3-4 of these every winter. Easily in my top 10 TJ's items. But I'm a sucker for brandy/cognac so...

  5. Best thing ever....now to find them...