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, December 2, 2016

Trader Joe's Soft Baked Drizzled Gingerbread Oat Bars

Must be bear season at Trader Joe's.

For the second time in scarcely over a week, here's another new, presumably seasonal product featuring a friendly, partially clothed bear offering some sort of treat. This time around it's Trader Joe's Soft Baked Drizzled Gingerbread Oat Bars. I mean, look at this bear - rosy cheeks, glasses, an ornament. Heck, (s)he's even holding a couple of the bars in a heart shape. I want this bear to be my friend. The fact (s)he's promoting a healthyish snack bar probably means I'm less likely to be eaten as well.

But that's not all that's on the box front. You'll have to look somewhat closely, but there's two, fairly often contradictory terms: "soft baked" and "gluten free." I'm not gluten-sensitive or anything by any stretch of the imagination, and I appreciate all the efforts that TJ makes to be celiac-friendly. That being said, whenever trying any product that's sans gluten, more times than not, to me, the texture leaves something to be desired. If this were truly a "soft baked" oat bar, it'd be quite a feat.

Unsurprisingly, the TJ's oat bars would not be what I'd describe as soft baked. Not at all. Dry, tough, and chewy? Yes, yes, and yes. It's a work out for the molars. Take a look at the ingredients - oats, almond butter, fig paste - there's no way it wouldn't be otherwise. The bite feels like a cross between a semi-stale Nutrigrain bar and my grandmother's molasses cookies (which I like by the way, Grandma!) that would be less disappointing if not promising to be "soft baked".

Aside from that, I like the bars quite a bit. Not a lot, if any of the almond butter or fig paste taste pop through - it's instead mostly oatty goodness with a heavy ginger bite. Seriously, the crystallized ginger in the bars are actually pretty close in potency to the Triple Ginger Snaps, so if a lot of ginger isn't your thing, stay the heck away. It's sugared over somewhat by the fair run-of-the-mill icing scratched over the top.

I think my kids liked them - which is odd, because if it's not mac n cheese or ice cream it takes them 45 minutes of begging to have them eat - but I wouldn't be surprised if that's not the norm. Between the chew factor for little teeth and the spicy ginger, it'd be hard to imagine them being a huge hit, cute polar bear be darned.

Anyways, for an on-the-go snack, or maybe even as a breakfast with an apple and coffee, you could do a lot worse. The price at $2.49 for a five piece box seems fair. Sandy didn't have much one way or another to say about them, so I'll assume that means a three. For me, I'll toss in a four - a lower score would be unfair to bear.


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soft Baked Drizzled Gingerbread Oat Bar: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

4 comments:

  1. I love these & have picked up 3 boxes! I don't think they're dry & tough at all, nor do I think they're overly gingery. I'm so happy to find a seasonal vegan treat, as most of their holiday goodies aren't vegan.

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  2. I thought they were a great flavor, i love ginger, and a way to get that gingerbread flavor without actually having cookies for breakfast ;)
    Microwave one for just 30seconds to get the soft baked texture, there is a huuuge difference somehow between room temp and warmed a little
    Ttrockwood

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experience with these bars! I think I'll be checking them out.

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