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, March 3, 2017

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar Caramels


Salt and vinegar....a winning combo. I've always liked eating as many salt and vinegar chips as possible before getting overwhelmed by stinging lips. Kinda akin to too many Sour Patch Kids, but in a different way. With Lent upon us here in Pittsburgh, I'm looking forward to dumping some on our Friday night fish dinners - we take them seriously out here - just look at this appropriately black and gold map. Oh the sacrifice.

But while salt and vinegar taste mighty good on chips and fish (as well as fish 'n chips)....with dark chocolate AND caramel as well? What in the...I mean, I know that balsamic vinegar and caramels can be a thing, and a tasty one at that, but this? I'd never try that on my own. But TJ's has, with the introduction of Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar Caramels.

It's a mad idea. Possibly brilliant, like the guy who "invented" pet rocks. He made millions. Or idiotic and sloppy, like when I tried singing "Chandelier" at karaoke. One two three, one two three drink indeed.

In actuality, it's somewhere between. The caramels cost $5 for a long skinny boxed tray of seven cubes, so a semi-premium price. Each bite was small, one large or two regular bite sized, with an ample sprinkling of coarse sea salt on top. So, obviously, this is going to be a salty chocolate. And it was, with the sodium being the predominant flavor until striking that caramel reservoir. That caramel...it was smooth and mellow and sugary, but then it hit. The vinegar. But it wasn't unpleasant at all as I feared may be the case. Instead it came in, slipped in a sweet tangy essence, and almost immediately dissipated. There weren't any lingering after-effects or anything that'd make you gag or run for a drink of water. All of this was held together by the representative dark chocolate - the right call for a muted cocoa variety which I'd estimate at about 65% dark. Not unpleasant at all.

Just one of them is really enough, though. I only ate two to try and get a handle on the taste, as did Sandy. I gave the others to coworkers, who all said the same thing: "I like them, but....I'd never buy them." Which is odd because it's exactly how Sandy and I feel. There's nothing wrong with the caramels, and they're actually pretty good for what they are, but I cannot see a compelling scenario where I'd willingly repurchase them. Maybe for a high-fallutin' pinky-liftin' wine-sippin' extravaganza which, well, I've never been to one and will probably not start now. They're good, and glad I tried, and kinda glad I can say I've eaten vinegar flavored chocolate candy now (sounds straight out of Willy Wonka that way), but if I never had another one again, I wouldn't be disappointed at all.

Seems to me they're a fun novelty type item that aren't nearly as weird as one may think, and certainly make a somewhat unique treat. Chances are if you like salted caramel chocolate combos, you'll have no problem with them. Emphasis on salt. No wonderful or perfect way to score them, so absent of unabashed love or repulsive hate, we're going with a three each. Have you tried? If so, comment away!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar Caramels: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

2 comments:

  1. I don't think I've ever had a vinegar and salt potato chip. I had that malt vinegar a long time ago at some fish place. It was okay.

    I like dill pickle potato chips. heck, I like dill pickle anything. Recently found some dill pickle peanuts.

    so i do like the vinegar and salty taste. just add dill. but not on chocolate :)

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  2. The idea is great. I tried it and it was bit odd. I like TJ's creativity there. I might try in different way; eat the caramel cup upside down then finish with the salt topping

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