Not just for putting up with me for nearly 10 years now. Although that's quite a feat in and of itself. Believe it or not, I'm not the easiest guy in the world to put up with. You shoulda seen the other morning when we had a hissyfit over Tupperware, namely the collection I had at work and the corresponding lack thereof for home supplies. Not pretty. We're still trying to abide by the marriage rule we established of "No talkie before coffee."
But also....she's changed. Quite a bit. In a good way. She's so much more adventurous now for food than she was when I first met her. I distinctly remember one of our early dates (maybe our fifth?), back when I had to really worry about impressing her, so I wanted to make her dinner....and was so worried she wouldn't like homemade chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. It was valid concern.
Not all that long ago, a product like Trader Joe's Pork Rib Bites wouldn't be on her radar at all. Something-something "looks too saucy", "meat on bone", or some sort of anti-meat sentiment would stop her from giving them a try. But because of my slow, persistent, and carne-abiding ways, I've finally gotten over to the world of enjoying things like meatloaf and smoked meats and sausage and such. Heck, she even tried scrapple on account of me.
Unfortunately, the piggy poppers would have been best left on the shelves.
Maybe a bit harsh, but I was not a huge fan of them. The problem wasn't the sauce - as you can see, there's ample amount. It's mild but smoky, with some depth - a good, decent Kansas City style sauce that would appeal to the masses. Think of a decent generic BBQ sauce and you'd get a close approximation to the sauce splattered all across the bites. it's the meat itself. It's....just not great. Granted, rib meat isn't always the best and choicest cuts, but even by those standards, it was gristley and chewy with some definite hard-to-chew bits. A lot of the bigger bites were dry once getting past the saucey outer stratospheres. The boned part took up at least half the meat chunk, leaving me with the impression that the price point ($5ish for the box) wasn't a great value.
And the packaging...ugh. There's the big box on the outside, with a much smaller plastic baggie inside holding the bites. There's no reason for the outer box at all except to make the purchase look bigger than it actually is. Common practice, I know, so I hesitate to call it deceptive, but it is something to be aware of.
Sandy actually seemed to enjoy them much more than I did. Maybe I'm turning into the picky one. But I would have been happier, personally, buying a package of raw ribs and grilling and basting them with another sauce (on the recommendation of many readers, would definitely try the new Yuzu sauce!) then buying them again. I guess there's a "convenience" factor here, but still, I'd pass. I can't give them more than a two, at most, if only because the sauce was pretty decent for what it was. My ever-tolerant spouse, though? She's happy doling at a perfectly middle of the road three of them. As always, she's more gracious than she oughtta be.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Pork Rib Bites: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons