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, December 13, 2016

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Commendation Bar

Years ago, in enough time passed that I can't recall what traces of logic I employed in deciding to do so, I invested about $5 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a universal TV remote. Not bad in the right circumstances, right? Well...this wasn't just any TV remote. The thing was freakin ginormous. Absurdly large. I don't recall the exact dimensions, but it was at least six inces wide, over a foot long (probably longer, and at least an inch thick. Each button was big enough that I could danced on top of them. Tom Hanks playing "Chopsticks" in the movie Big style, every time I wanted to change the channel. It took up half our coffee table. I guess I thought it was funny or cool or ironic or just dumb enough...I mean, it worked, but the novelty factor quickly wore off, and I ended up pitching it. I'm pretty sure Sandy shook her hood the entire time we had it, wondering what the h-e-double bendistraw I was thinking.

I forgot all about that until we bought Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Commendation Bar.

Don't rush to get too judgy. I suppose it's possible that Sandy and I could eat two kilograms of chocolate all by ourselves. Then again, it's also possible that I am the king of France. Possible? Yes. Probable? No freakin' way. But we hostd our annual holiday Cookie Potluck over this past weekend, and I figured, let's drop the $14.99 on it, we'll have enough guests, it'll be a cool thing to have on our table. In a pinch, we could use it as our table.

My pics don't do it justice. It's...just really ridiculously big. Should have really busted out the measuring tape, or found a VW Bug to use as a size reference. Couple feet long, About a foot wide. Over an inch thick. That pic over there? That's just half. It's way too unwieldy to even bust off a piece with your hands. I'm not sure I wanted to risk busting a kitchen knife. What you really need is a rock chisel, or a large sanitized flathead screwdriver and a mallet. With a complete lack of better options, I ended using the prong from our knife block to randomly stab and chip off some pieces.

Unless you're making an actual house out of gingerbread and you need shingles, there's no practical use for a bar this big. I totally get the appeal - larger than life chocolate bar, anti-Zoolander by its very existence - but once the novelty wears off, it's just chocolate. A lot of chocolate. Dos kilos. Whispering that in a Spanish accent makes it sound even more intimidating.

Apart from the size issues, it's pretty decent chocolate, though. Earthy, bittersweet, but with a hint of creaminess - those Belgians got chocolate down to a science. It's not earth-shattering by any stretch, but good and solid, and I guess if I had to eat 4.4 pounds of something, there'd be far worse options out there.

Dat size tho....it's too big. Over the course of several hours, me and a few dozen of our party guests chiseled away not even a quarter of the bar. If it weren't as thick, it'd go down easier. Personally, for a still really huge bar, I'd make it the same length and width but make it half as thick, and charge something like $8 or $9 for it. That's still an outstanding value, and makes it more likely the whole bar would be consumed. Both Sandy and I like it, but considered returning it just because there's too much left. I ended up taking it into work where we'll use it as emergency rations in case we all get snowed in.

Maybe there are some practical options for something this large. Maybe there's some really fun ones. Those are up to you letting us know in the comments below. Darn good chocolate, too darn big. Caveat emptor. I have no idea how to accurately and fairly grade this, but something around a "not bad" sounds right, all things considered.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Commendation Bar: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


7 comments:

  1. Baking! :) I put an entire pound plus bar in my chocolate chip cookies (recipe makes about 20-24), so the 4.4 pound one saves me money, since it's $15 vs the pound for $5. So for baking purposes, it's great! :D

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  2. Use in a chocolate themed party where chocolate is used in all courses. Or chocolate fountains too

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  3. I saw this in the store today. Whoa.

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  4. I think you can't claim that the size is a demerit when you knew the size at the time of purchase. If it was too big for you, then you shouldn't have bought it in the first place rather than say it's not so good because it is what it promised to be.

    As for how to break it up, the way is to not open the package and to slam it into pieces on the side of a table before breaking the seal. I will say that it is a demerit to make it so hard to break up or without advice on how to do it.

    These things make really great novelty gifts, or are great to put out at Christmas parties for a lot of people to eat a bit of.

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    1. It's so thick that the slamming it on the side of the table thing won't work. You'll break your table unless it's made of stone.

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  5. The only common sense application is for baking and desserts- melted into a ganache, chopped for cookies, fudge, hot chocolate, etc....
    But yeah i saw it in the store and it's huge!! Like if it fell off the shelf it would take out a toddler or break your toe.
    Ttrockwood

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  6. One of the best gifts I ever received for Christmas was a 5 lb. Ghirardelli chocolate bar. I ate it in chunks, melted it and added milk for hot chocolate, used it to make brownies, broke it into tiny pieces as chunks for chocolate chip cookies, and melted it and added cream/milk to make chocolate truffles. The possibilities are endless! I did share with my family, but we managed to finish it in about 2-3 months. Note: I bought the milk chocolate TJ's bar plus a giant bottle of wine for my office's white elephant party. I giggled all the way to the checkout line!

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