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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Trader Joe's Spring Gummies


The tulips in the backyard really want to come out. But just when we think they're about to go full-bloom, they get pummeled with cold north winds and snow flurries and they just stay tucked away—a few tufts of green leaflets poking out of the partially-thawed ground. One of these days soon they'll present their pretty petals, but for now it's a bit too chilly still.

Nevertheless, it is indeed springtime and Easter's not very far away. Nothing's more vernal than blooming flowers, playful butterflies, and cute chirpy birds. Even the convenient resealable bag boasts gorgeous green grass and beautiful blue skies.


The colors of the candies themselves are pastel pink, green, and yellow. As far as I could tell, however, there was no difference in flavors. They all had the same vaguely sweet, mostly forgettable taste. 

It's just cane sugar and a bunch of supporting ingredients that give the candies their color and texture. Fortunately, there's no pork gelatin. Hooray for kosher gummies. Also, they're gluten free.

So these would be fine for a kid's Easter basket or just a mid-day blood sugar booster. We've seen some disappointing gummy candy from Trader Joe's throughout the years and we've also seen some amazingly delicious offerings. These fall exactly in between the two extremes flavor-wise. But since they're presented so nicely, we'll be kind when we score them.

$2.99 for the bag. I think they were new as of last year, and they're making their second seasonal appearance right now. Three stars from Sonia. Three from me for Trader Joe's Spring Gummies.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars

You ever see or hear or taste something "new" and immediately think, hey' I've experienced this before, but can't figure out where, when, or what it was?

That's 100% the case here with the new Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars. 

I swear I've had them before. Naturally, TJ's doesn't make these, or any of their products, so there's a chance I've had the brand name equivalent. 


Or maybe not. Let' be honest - how unique and different and everything can you get with a peanut butter granola bar? There's only so many ways to invent a wheel. 

Everything that can reasonably expected, and everything promised in photos and packaging is present. The bars are of sufficiently good quality with tier rolled oats and rice crisps and whatnot, which makes for a not too soft, not too hard bite with just the right amount of chew. They're neither floppy and flailing nor suitable for small construction projects. There's that peanut butter shellacking on the bottom side (that'd be the coat) with some extra kinda hanging around haphazardly atop (that'd be the drizzle). It's a small, perfect sized snack, plenty portable, filling enough for what it is, and no real complaints...

...but also absolutely nothing descript or unique or anything to set it apart from the crowd in any tangible way I can discern. Granted, I've barely had the brainpower to somewhat manage everything else I have in life recently, much less to categorically and definitively compare and contrast my nearly 40 years' experience of eating peanut butter granola bars to this particular TJ's brand. It's a big catalogue, and not well notated. All that to say, chime in if you got something, cuz I'm drawing a blank here. 


Nothing wrong, will rebuy, kids love them, nothing overly right, but hey, it's a decent snack. Not bad at all for what it is.  

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Friday, March 25, 2022

Trader Joe's Organic Date Syrup

Ah, the Deglet Noor date. So much deglettier than regular dates. They provide so much noorishment, those fancy DNDs. I'm being facetious, of course. I don't know much about dates, but you can click that link in the first line if you want to read a post that demonstrates at least a passing knowledge of a couple date species, as well as a brief review of a previous Trader Joe's date product.

I'm not sure why I was thinking the syrup would be clear and thin, similar to agave, but it's quite dark and somewhat thicker than I assumed. It looks very much like chocolate syrup or balsamic reduction.

The flavor is super sweet, but it's distinctly different than most sweeteners. To me, it's not a completely neutral flavor. It really tastes like dates. So it's fruity in that sense. But it's also a "dark" sweetness, more similar to molasses in a way than plain old sugar or something like Karo. Neither Sonia nor I particularly like molasses, but we both like this. It's like...what we always wished molasses would taste like...if that makes sense.


It worked great as a sweetener in our smoothies. We've been putting a bit of honey in them as of late, but this functions pretty much in the same manner. There is that deep, dark, almost caramel-like flavor to the date syrup, so it enhances the taste of the fruits and juices even more.

I won't say it's a replacement for good old maple syrup. I don't think there's anything you could put on a pancake or waffle that's hands down better than real maple. But if you wanna mix things up a little, this stuff sure isn't bad in that regard. The pic up above is Trader Joe's Organic Date Syrup on a piece of French toast. It was pretty tasty. Not better than maple syrup. Just different. I'm always down for a bit of novelty, but I think I'll return to the old standby for my next stack of flapjacks.


$3.49 for a 6.09 oz squeeze bottle. There's nothing but organic Deglet Noor dates in there. Pretty impressive product. Trader Joe's Organic Date Syrup gets four stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings

"You look pretty good...for your age."

"You're so pretty/handsome when you smile."

"I bet you were in great shape when you were younger."

Yeah, some "compliments" aren't exactly that, are they?

Kinda like when my lovely bride stated that the new Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings were, and I quote, "better than Funyuns." I mean, I get the basis, as in comparing the most ubiquitous onion ring bagged snack to the TJ's noob here, but really? That, while not quite a low enough standard to be a tripping hazard in Hades, isn't exactly a difficult hurdle to cross. The thought of Funyuns doesn't leave me (or anyone?) reaching for the stars, much less a bag of Funyuns. Overly salty corn meal fried in vegetable oil? No thanks. 

Back to the TJ's snacker rings. These are legitimately and legume-ly tasty, with a much healthier base of lentils and rice, and baked deliciously to a light, airy crisp. The result is a slightly earthy, crunchy snack with a bite that keeps my chompers chomping for more. It really is pretty fun and somewhat novel. 

Results do vary somewhat as far as seasoning distribution. In the name of science I snagged two bags on my last trip. The first sack wasn't overly sour creamy or oniony - it was more a subtle suggestion than all out flavor blast. it was kinda nice yet somewhat lacking at the same time. Like, let's not get too refined here, k?  The second must have gotten whatever was leftover from the first and then some, because man, right from the first, it's all out sc&o. At time of writing it's been nearly two hours since I had my last bite and I can still taste it. Gonna have to brush before smooching the Mrs. 

Definitely give them a try if sour cream and onion are your kinda thing. I'd love for some more variations, like a jalapeno cheddar or ranch, or even just a plain one. While there's no doubt that the rings are absolutely a snack/junk food, they're pretyt healthy on that curve. And it's great that even a small handful has enough substance to them to fill ya up and help stave off the mindless eating. Mmm lentils. Just a couple bucks a bag and worth it. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sour Cream & Onion Flavored Rings: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, March 21, 2022

Trader Joe's Rosemary Croissant Croutons


I don't think I've ever set out on a Trader Joe's run thinking, "Dang, I wish TJ's would start carrying super duper ultra gourmet croutons!" But if I had thought that, welp by golly, this product would have been an absolute godsend...because I've never seen or tasted such top-shelf croutons before.

The croissant aspect of these crispy critters is the most impressive facet of them. They're layered in these thin, flaky, almost wafery strata of breadtastic delight. 


They're awesome to crunch on by themselves straight out of the bag so you can appreciate the unadulterated texture in its purest form, but they're also excellent in soup. They'll sop up a bit of the liquid and get quite soggy on the outside, but they're dense and bulky enough that they still retain some amount of crunchiness on the inside.

There's a butteriness about them that nearly approximates the comfort food quality you might get from grilled cheese when paired with tomato soup. The liquid in the soup wakes up the butter in the croutons and makes them—I don't know how to say it—it makes them more than mere croutons.

The rosemary element is significant. For me, it borders on overkill but doesn't quite cross that line. Sonia likes the flavor profile perfectly just the way it is.

If you're someone that enjoys Triscuits, Wheat Thins, Cheez-Its, Goldfish, saltines, or butter crackers as occasional snacks, I think these croutons are worth a try just for their stand-alone snack value. We'll definitely try the remainder of the pack with salad later this week. I'm sure they'll work great. 

$3.99 for the bag. This product gets a thumbs up from both Sonia and me. Four stars a piece.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Trader Joe's Egg Wraps


Look, in the deli section! It's an egg....it's a wrap...it's the new Trader Joe's Egg Wraps!

You ever eat something with a familiar flavor in an unconventional or at least non-standard form? That's pretty much the experience here with these new-fangled gluten-free dairy-free kinda crepe-like eggy tortilla type thingies. It's...equally somewhat familiar and somewhat foreign all at once. 

The closest approximation I can make as far as taste is a Dutch baby pancake, which are pretty heavy into eggs and flour if you're not acquainted with them. Even that's not quite right, as it's rice flour and millet used here, not all-purpose. And obviously the wraps aren't all big and poofy either. But it gets the idea of a super egginess into a pancake-esque form, with a slightly more "grain"y taste. Odd, perhaps, but it works. 


The wraps themselves are super pliable and easy to use, like any respectable tortilla. Whether warming up or eating cold from the fridge, the flavor and flexibility remained really about the same. it was easy to make a quick ham and cheese wrap that wasn't greasy or slimy or offputting in any way. For us, I could see us using the wraps as a quick morning breakfast when the craving for eggs hits, but the time doesn't allow. Of course, if you need to be gluten-free, or just want to sneak some extra protein into your diet, you don't need to wait til breakfast time. That's just us. 

Six wraps come in the package, which is good for three servings. Cost was about $4.49 if I recall right, so about 75 cents each. Seems fair to have that kinda convenience/novelty upcharge baked in. No real complaints, and they're differently interesting to try on out.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Egg Wraps: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Trader Joe's Tamarind Sauce

Not all that long ago, the beautiful wifey made a comment about craving tamarind sauce with another Trader Joe's product we reviewed. The comment struck me as totally random at the time, but at least part of my reaction was due to my general disdain for tamarind-flavored things.

I've had tamarind candy, tamarind soda, and even tamarind-flavored vodka. In each case, I thought it was kinda gross. Sonia grew up with such treats...well, okay, not the vodka, but the tamarind candy and beverages are something she's totally accustomed to. I think it's a Mexican thing.

To me, this sauce isn't a far cry from steak sauce, flavor-wise, but perhaps a bit more versatile. It's a bit thinner than A1 and other leading brands and perhaps a tad sweeter, but both types of sauces are tart, tangy, citrusy, and have an interesting blend of peppery spices underneath it all. This tamarind sauce is almost like a slightly fruitier version of Worcestershire sauce.

I don't think the average American wants A1-flavored candy or steak sauce soda, do you? But in its proper context as a condiment for meat, it's perfectly tasty. I'd say the same for tamarind, personally.

This sauce worked well with salmon, providing the same sort of sweet-tart element you might get from teriyaki sauce. It also went great with grilled chicken. I'm sure it would work well with white fish or shrimp. I don't eat steak very often, but I'd absolutely use it in place of A1 or Worcestershire.


It pours a deep, dark brown—almost like used motor oil. But because it's so relatively thin, it doesn't coat very well, and you can go through a lot of it quite quickly. I think it was $2.99 for about 7 oz.

We're both down for another purchase. Four stars from me. Four and a half from Sonia.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

 


In the world of cookies, there's a few ways you can go, of course. 

There's soft and squishy/melty. Soft and crumbly. Crispy and crumbly. Crispy and crunchy. hard and crunchy. And then just plain ol' rocks. 

For my money, as that list progresses, the quality and enjoyment factor of a peanut butter cookie goes down significantly...but we may have a new benchmark with Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies. 

Usually, it's the taste that diminishes the further right on the spectrum you go. But, it's not the case here. there's an undeniably strong peanut butter flavor, albeit somewhat sweet and sugary. it's a cookie, after all. But the taste is fairly nutty, a touch savory, and hits a lot of key notes, and is enough of a winning combo for my book. The little occasional chunk of peanut does help seal the deal.

But man, these would be even better if softer in my opinion, to really let that flavor wash over. Instead, the bite-sized cookies border on being too hard, too crunchy at times. The molars do get a work out here. A little milk or hot chocolate does soften them, for sure, but it'd be nice to have a softer bite without resorting to dunking. 

These new TJ pb cookies are pretty tasty, and a tub is worth a pick up for the occasional munch or homework time motivator. At about $4 for the tub it's a good enough value even for not being my preferred texture. There's only so many ways you can go.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Trader Joe's Cinna-Dragons


The age of the dragon is upon us.

So many pop culture dragons these days I could blather on about: Smaug from The Hobbit, Daenerys Targaryen's dragons from Game of Thrones, Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. I could go on and on.

Why these little candies are shaped like dragons and not like, I dunno...bears or tigers or something...anything else, I really have no idea. They're not even all that hot. The bag even states, "Are they fire-breathing dragon hot? Nah."


That's accurate.

The heat level here is probably just enough to annoy spice-o-phobes and probably a good bit shy of what a spice-o-phile is craving. But if you just want a standard sweet cinnamon candy with a bit of a kick, then these little treats are hard to complain about.

I went through a brief Hot Tamales phase in high school. These are comparable. I liked Fireballs, too, which obviously weren't chewy, but flaunted a very similar sweet-hot cinnamon flavor profile.

I don't recall what ingredients were used in those old-school cinnamon candies, but the Trader Joe's version is pretty much above reproach in that department. There's cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup and vegetable juice instead of weird chemical dyes. Nothing super unusual or unpronounceable.

In the end, I just have to be in the mood for cinnamon candy. There's nothing about these that calls me back for piece after piece. Their texture is fine. Their flavor is fine. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe TJ's should dip them in dark chocolate next time.

Beautiful wifey feels the same. $2.29 per resealable bag. Gluten-free. Kosher. Three stars a piece from Sonia and me for Trader Joe's Cinna-Dragons.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Trader Joe's Deli Style Corned Beef Flavor Dog Treats


Well this product is seasonally-appropriate, at least. Along with potatoes, Irish bangers, Irish soda bread, and of course Lucky Charms cereal, corned beef is a classic St. Patrick's Day meal. And since we've never seen any actual corned beef products for people from Trader Joe's, it looks like these dog treats are on deck for a review.

Even the packaging is green, white, and orange. How festive. And although there are no shamrocks or overt mentions of the patron saint of Ireland, we know what Trader Joe's was going for. The spiel on the back of the bag even suggests making a reuben sandwich for dogs using these corned beef treats.


Let's check out the ingredients. They include beef, potato, paprika, and celery powder. Heck with ingredients like that, I'd consider eating them. With grocery prices these days, I may have to...

But my dogs would have something to say about that, because they love these treats. There's a good bit of protein and fat, and of course no grains. If you stick your nose in the bag, it really does smell like real corned beef. As far as dog snacks go, these are pretty top-notch, quality-wise. And they're top-notch taste-wise, too, if I go by my mutts' reaction when I break this bag out of the pet pantry.


No dog deli near you? No problem. These are authentic deli style dog treats. Alfred and Sadie both agree. Four paw prints a piece.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, March 4, 2022

Trader Joe's Camembert Cheese and Cranberry Sauce Fillo Bites

Oh boy! Here's an ostensibly brand new product for March 2022. I think it's supposed to be a St. Patrick's Day hor d'oeuvre or maybe a meat-free Friday Lent snack, right? It's definitely not like we found it at the back of our freezer that we were in the process of clearing out since spring cleaning is right around the corner.

I'm sure it's not been sitting there for months, like it was intended as a Thanksgiving side or Christmas appetizer or Valentine's Day treat...unless maybe it was. Fact-checkers, feel free to disregard all assertions made in these first two paragraphs of this review. Or feel free to fact-check us and cause some controversy. No such thing as bad publicity and all that.

The point is that this product probably isn't brand new, or even in season, or even available at Trader Joe's right now. In fact, a quick "Search This Blog" inquiry would suggest that it was available at Trader Joe's stores in November/December 2015.


If that upsets you, please bookmark this review and return circa late November or December 2022 when these thoughts may or may not be more relevant than they seem to be right now.

Just FYI, the "best by" date on these was April 2023, so it's not like it's been in our freezer for centuries. We're still preparing the product more than a year before it expires, so freshness shouldn't be an issue. However, the Camembert cheese might be. I'm just sensitive to all mold cheeses like Brie, Roquefort, and Stilton. But I'll taste just about anything once. So I did. And all I could taste was mold. So I decided to let Sonia score these all on her own.

She loved the phyllo dough. It was nice and crispy and flaky like it usually is with similar Trader Joe's appetizers. The sweet and tart cranberry sauce was a nice touch, but it could have been more prevalent. She doesn't think there was enough of it to offset the bitterness of the Camembert.

In the end, I guess she's not really a mold cheese gal, either. She wanted to like these crispy, cheesy little apps, but they're not really her thing. Some bites had a "chewiness" that turned her off, in addition to the grassy, planty flavor that she detected. We both wanted these to be dessert-like, but the prevalent flavor was that of a cheese that's apparently just too sophisticated for either of our palates. At a quick glance, there are plenty of dissenting opinions out there in cyberspace, but this probably isn't a repeat purchase for Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies


 Yeah, it's the first day of Lent, and some of you may be giving up chocolate as is tradition, and perhaps you didn't really want or need to see a review on the new Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies...

Yet here we are. 

Be assured, though, you're not missing much. These newbies are one of the great examples of "nothing really wrong, but nothing really right either" niche that TJ's occasionally stumbles on. 

Like, I'm not going to complain about thin carmelized wafer dough, rolled up and dipped in some tasty milk chocolate. That'd be ridiculous, because it's tasty. Of course it's tasty.

But is there anything compelling here at all? Anything for a little added kick, or something that'd help seal the deal for a definite rebuy. Nah, not at all. A little sea salt, or a touch of French vanilla, or some cafe au lait, or, I don't know, some  baguettes or something would make it a much more compelling product. It might also help point out exactly what's so "French" about these. 

Instead it's just a nice little crispy, airy, chocolate treat. Nothing wrong, but nothing overwhelmingly right. And sorry but I just can't get a great pic of the nutritional info and ingredients, it's just too small for my potato, I mean phone. 

Meh. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's French Chocolate Crepe Wafer Cookies: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons