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, February 2, 2017

Trader Joe's Raspberry Hearts

In general, I've always disliked Valentine's Day—or as a friend of mine always referred to it,  "V.D." I hated the shallow sentimentality of the season, the kitschy cupid cut-outs on doors, and the mandatory mass consumption of mediocre candies and chocolates. It didn't help that, until I got married, I spent the majority of my Valentine's Days without a significant other. Sonia was the same way. And she's most definitely NOT a candy/stuffed animal/red rose kind of gal. So when we married, we merged our mutual disdain for the "Hallmark Holiday" and scarcely celebrated it except for a meal and a movie, mostly out of a misplaced sense of obligation to one another—it was basically just a decent excuse to splurge on some special food and drinks. So...in general, we've never been Valentine's people. 

But my absolute least favorite thing about the holiday has always been the anatomically-inaccurate and ridiculously clichéed abundance of hearts. Pink and red hearts everywhere. Blah.

However, this year I'm trying to look at Valentine's hearts with new eyes. After seven and a half years of marriage and more than our fair share of challenges, I'm trying to see hearts as emblems of that soulful dedication to one another rather than the hollow symbols of romantic love (read: lust) that I always took them for in the past. So...I won't hold their silly shape against these Valentine's confections.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that they are indeed highly noshable. It's not immediately apparent, but they're actually sandwich cookies made with bakery-quality shortbread and sweet raspberry jelly in the middle. The shortbread is soft and crumbly, and there's a nice rich, almost buttery quality to them, but they're not oily as some shortbread can be. The jelly is more stiff than an actual raspberry jam, but not as stiff as, say...taffy...or most chewy candy. The two elements work well together, and at least in our case, everything tasted remarkably fresh.

I think there were 18 cookies in the box. They weren't marked with a price on the baked goods table, so I just blindly threw them into my basket. I wasn't thrilled when they came up at $4.99, but I figured, "What the heck? We can always try them and return them if they're not worth the money." But since Sonia liked them at least as much as I did, I'd have to say they were worth the money. 

February is here. It's one of the coldest months of the year. But if you look up, you'll see the sun's much higher in the sky and the hope of spring is just around the corner. It's the perfect time for lovers to cling to one another to survive that final winter storm. When rations are running low and faith comes at a premium, what else do we have to pull ourselves through but each other?

That is to say: it's all about soul. And when I say soul, I mean heart.

Matching fours.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

13 comments:

  1. I bought some yesterday, and have already eaten half the box. So tasty.

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  2. This has to be one of your most well-written reviews. I loved the sentiment...and I'm not an overly mushy person myself. I'll try the cookies just because I loved your post so much!

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    1. Thanks, Anne. Hope you enjoy the cookies as much as we did.

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  3. Long time reader, first time poster. I really enjoyed this review, too. My husband & I pretty much feel the same way that you and Sonia do about "VD". I'm not overly mushy either, but I ❤️ this blog.

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  4. This is such a fantastic review!! The heart shaped crap candy at valentines is absolutely tragic unless you're a six year old. And considering you get 18 cookies per box it sounds like a fair value for a novelty cookie like that. I'm usually a crunchy shortbread kind of girl but I'm definitely going to pick up some to share with my coworkers since we're planning a sweets and coffee thing in the afternoon
    Ttrockwood

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  5. "anatomically-inaccurate"? You mean this is NOT what the heart in my chest looks like??? ;) (btw, 2 words: MUDD PIE. In the frozen section.)

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  6. Sadly, my TJs didn't have these yesterday and didn't even know they existed when I asked. They sound really good, too.

    My husband and I have been married 4 times longer than you and Sonia and we have the same philosophy about the whole V-Day racket that y'all do. Besides, it's not what you do on the Hallmark Holiday that matters, it's what you do on the other 364 days that counts.

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  7. These sound exactly like a British cookie called Jammie Dodgers, except heart shaped. I'll have to pick some up!

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