Friday, April 29, 2022

Trader Joe's Organic Vegan Nacho Dip


A little about me: I had severe allergies to wheat, milk, and sugar all through my childhood. I was deprived of the vast majority of foods that my friends and classmates got to eat on a regular basis. I was treated with daily allergy shots, often administering them to myself, and have now, for the most part, outgrown those food allergies, though I still suffer from some mild to moderate sensitivities, namely to gluten, while my wife Sonia has some mild to moderate lactose intolerance.

All through those years of food allergies, my parents did what they could to provide alternatives: goat milk or soy milk instead of cow's milk, rice bread or millet bread instead of wheat bread, NutraSweet and later stevia instead of sugar, and so on. There weren't any Trader Joe's or Whole Foods around, so our options were pretty limited. Fortunately, there were a few mom and pop's "health food" stores and some local farms that offered foods that were hard to find at typical mainstream grocery stores.

I'm actually somewhat grateful for those years of having an extremely limited diet. First, because it taught me to more fully appreciate those very common foods that most people take for granted. Second, because it forced me to broaden my horizons early. There were certain things that I discovered during those years that I would still eat and do still eat now: Rice Dream or coconut-based ice cream, for example. I still generally love things made with rice flour, too.


But there are also alternative foods that I tried back then that were so awful in my opinion that I would have rather just done without any version of said food. Sugar-free carob chips come to mind. Some might argue: "Well, Nathan, you can't have real chocolate chips, so you'll have to eat sugar-free carob!"

But then that argument doesn't make sense at all, does it? I would much rather give up on both chocolate chips and their disgusting alternative at that point.

All that to say when I review things that are dairy-free or gluten-free or sugar-free or whatever, I'm reviewing it from the perspective of a little boy who will happily try almost anything, but will then share his genuine opinion of that thing. I will not sacrifice honesty for the sake of people who might have a different opinion of a particular product. If you disagree with my assessment of an item, feel free to post your opinion as a comment on the blog or our social media, but don't accuse me of lacking "compassion" and "gratitude" because my viewpoint is different than yours. Every reviewer brings his or her own bias to the table to some degree, and I'm no different.

And along those lines, this product falls squarely into that sugar-free carob category. If I were strictly vegan or still allergic to milk, I would happily do without real nacho cheese dip AND this cashew-based alternative...because it's simply not good.

For the record: I like cashews. I also generally like anything nacho cheese flavored. But from the moment I peeled back the plastic covering, there was an off-putting smell. It was a kind of foot-esque odor, strong enough to make me wince. There was something vaguely nacho-ish about the smell, but nothing suggesting nacho cheese dip.


After heating, the smell was more heavily nacho than feet, but it still wasn't particularly pleasant. Taking a bite with an unsalted tortilla chip, there was a moment where the dip was just a flavorless mush. Then a moment later, there was a wash of vague nacho spice. Sonia's experience was very similar. The condiment never even came close to approximating the richness or creaminess of real nacho cheese, and there's just not enough spice to cover up the product's weaknesses.

Texture-wise, it seemed oddly thick and pasty, maybe a little oily. Sonia said it reminded her of toothpaste. I don't disagree, although the texture and appearance are both a notch more impressive than the flavor if you ask me.

I'll throw out one star for that reason. Sonia will go with a generous two for Trader Joe's Vegan Nacho Dip, pointing out that it might conceivably work as a minor ingredient in a grand mishmash of southwestern style foods. We'll most likely take advantage of Trader Joe's outstanding no hassle return policy and get our $3.99 back on this one.

Bottom line: 3 out of 10.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Bite Sized Crackers

Sometimes just a little rebranding is needed to get a little spark or buzz. Just ask Dunkin'. Dunkin' who? That's not a question that needs to be asked, but now I'm able to tell my kids that when I was their age, it was called Dunkin' Donuts. Now, just Dunkin'. You barely noticed that change, but I'm betting those DD suits are betting you'll now notice everything else that their "bake places" have, including crappy oversugared coffee drinks and greasy sammies. Oh well. Their profits are looking good as a result. 

More relevantly, here's Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Bite Sized Crackers. Ahh, good ol' EBTB. It's a growing behemoth of a TJ's-nurtured "pet brand" so to speak - it's everywhere now - the seasoning blend, on chips, interestingly on bagels (everything but the bagel bagels? what?) and even on salmon. And now, finally, crackers. 

Oh wait. I stand corrected. According to my TJ's inside sources (AKA whoever happened to be the cashier on my last trip), these crackers have been around for YEARS and were just rebranded under the EBTB banner. This actually sounded vaguely right - I kinda remember a red box - but never tried them, never picked them up. Didn't help that there's only so many crackers one household should buy on any given trip, and all our usuals were out of stock, which highlighted this gleaming white box of snacktime promise even more prominently. 

Anyways, as far as crackers go, it's a decent cracker. Think of a slightly knock-off Wheat Thin with all the usual garlic and onion and various seeds which somehow is universally accepted as "everything" when quite frankly it excludes a lot more than it includes, and there you have it. There's plenty of flavor by themselves - I'd almost say too much - which we've been snacking on and off on. It is a bit too potent for a cracker, so a little pairing with some cheese is a good move. There's ample munch and crunch, for sure. In our household, at least, the purported adults like them more than the kiddos do - they can down a pallet of Cheddar Rockets in a day, this box has survived for nearly a week now. It's a good snack, for sure, but not addictive. At most, it's a fairly possible rebuy.

My apologies for the crappy pic. It's what happens when you have to snap one before dawn as you rush out the door. Maybe instead of rebranding myself, i just need a better set up And time. Lots more time. Sigh. 

Anyways, give 'em a try if you feel so inclined, and if like us you previously ignored their existence just to be enticed by the new packaging. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Seasoned Bite Sized Crackers: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Monday, April 25, 2022

Trader Joe's Hold the Dairy! Mini Chocolate Frozen Dessert Cones


When they say "mini cones" they're not joking. These are obscenely diminutive desserts in my book. We've seen miniature cones from Trader Joe's before, but I think these are the smallest yet.

And it wouldn't be such a big deal but each cone is individually wrapped, and they're not super easy to get out of the packaging without mangling some of the pretty waves of coconut ice cream on top of the tiny cones. I dunno. Maybe I'm just hopelessly inept at unwrapping teensy little baby frozen desserts. I have fat hands. Perhaps I'd do better using an exacto knife and tweezers.


I'm exaggerating of course. But only a bit. My complaints about this product are primarily the format of the packaging. I'd much rather have, say, four normal-sized Nutty Buddy-style sundae cones than a dozen microscopic ones.

The flavor? It's good. It's chocolatey coconut milk. It's not a far cry from dairy. I mean, you can tell it's not dairy if you pay attention. I feel like they chose chocolate because it's rich and it overshadows the natural coconut milk flavor. I'd almost always prefer vanilla. I think it would allow the natural coconut milk flavor to shine even more. But if you're trying to trick a dairy-lover into eating something totally vegan, these are a decent choice.


The wafer cone and other ingredients are very much on par with a regular dairy-ful ice cream sundae cone, and there's nothing to complain about there. The overall effect is sweet, crunchy, and satisfying...as long as you eat more than one. I wouldn't have minded some nuts of some kind.

$3.99 for 12 very small cones. Not a terrible value. Just too much packaging. Dairy-free. Vegan. Coconut-based. There's actually coconut milk, coconut water, and coconut oil.

I'd probably reach for one of the other "Hold the Cone" options before I'd purchase these again, although I'd love to see these larger and with other flavor options. Three and a half stars a piece on these Hold the Dairy! cones. 

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Trader Joe's Ube Pretzels

Earlier this week, I made one of my usual, occasional laments that here in Pittsburgh, we always seems last to get anything new, TJ's-wise. Weeks will go by and my lovely bride, who's always got her fingers on the pulse of new products in the pipeline, will be showing me the latest Instagram hype of whatever's new and hot. And we wait...and wait...and wait...and finally, when we get it, not that whatever it is usually isn't delicious, but it's kinda old news for the vast majority of yinz. 

Well, perhaps Big Joe finally heard all of that and tossed us a bone to gnaw on, with Trader Joe's Ube Pretzels. 

Neither Sandy nor I had heard of them or knew anything about them. It was a complete surprise. Somehow, we got ourselves a bag. I mean, I'm positive we're not like Neil Armstrong or anything, but for once, we kinda felt the rush of being first, or at least pretty darn close enough to it. 

If that isn't true, don't ruin it for us, please!

Anyways, TJ's ube pretzels. In case you didn't know, ube is basically a purplish sweet potato that naturally sweet, a touch savory, and translates well across many dishes, notably desserts and sweets. TJ's has been on a kick with them recent years, most notably with ube ice cream. Almost anything with ube, we like. 

As you can likely see, the basic premise here is very simple: a yogurty ube-flavored candy coating over some typical salty snappy pretzels. That's it. It's simple yet fun at the same time. We couldn't wait to start crushing some, and our kiddos were pretty excited about eating purple pretzels. Win win all around. 

Except...well...don't get me wrong, I like them. The few remaining survicors in the bag can attest to how many I snatched away from them. But there's something just a touch off on them. It seems to me that the candy coating is a touch or two more straight up sugar than actual ube flavored. Like Buddy the Elf ("Does it have sugar in it?...Then yes!"), I love straight up sugar, but it just doesn't work as great with the ube and then trying to work in a salty grainy pretzel. If something is ube, I want more ube. I can save the super sugary stuff for other times. 

Other than that, these pretzels are definitely a fun little snack that's worth the try. A bag runs about $3 and will definitely get a little sugar rush for that midafternoon lull. There's a good general thumbs up all around from us here in the 'burgh, what with us being first and all. Don't ruin that illusion!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Ube Pretzels: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Trader Joe's Ranch Seasoning Blend

Did you know that you don't need to shake a shaker? It's true. It's amazing what you can learn while surfing the interwebs. You just hold the shaker in place while upside down and rotate the plastic covering with the holes back and forth. Or hold the plastic covering in place and rotate the shaker itself. The salt or pepper or, in this case ranch powder, just falls right out...much more evenly than if you shake it, I might add. It was one of those "my whole life has been a lie" moments for me. So there you go. That's a free life hack just for reading this blog.

Another life hack: put this stuff on popcorn. Ranch popcorn. You're welcome. Why isn't ranch popcorn a thing? Well, actually, I suppose it is. But why isn't it more popular? I dunno. As I'm writing this paragraph, I'm realizing it says "sprinkle on popcorn" on the front of the label. I guess Trader Joe's beat me to it.

Pro tip: the more buttery your popcorn is, the better this seasoning will stick to it.

To be honest, ranch isn't really my thing. It's definitely not my go-to as far as salad dressing is concerned. I'm not big into hot wings or anything like that. In the upper midwest, they give out ranch with freaking everything. At some bar/grills around here, they give you ranch with French fries. I'm always like, "Um...have you ever heard of ketchup?"


But I digress. Ranch has its place. It's great as a veggie dip with carrots and celery and broccoli, although this powder doesn't really work in that application. I bet you could mix it with some sour cream and create a makeshift ranch dip. The side of the shaker actually has a recipe for "Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing" involving mayo and buttermilk but I bet it would be just as good using only sour cream and this seasoning, a la those Hidden Valley seasoning packets.

It might just be me, but I felt this ranch flavor was particularly potent, almost spicy even. There's plenty of garlic, onion, dill, and pepper taste in addition to the creamy buttermilk. I'm thinking you could use this on baked potatoes, fish, poultry, or other meats. Anybody have any other crazy ideas? Love to hear about them in the comments.

We both liked it and would buy it again. $2.99 for the shaker. Four stars a piece from Sonia and me for Trader Joe's Ranch Seasoning Blend.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Seasoned Almonds

 

It probably doesn't need to be said...but life can get pretty nuts sometimes. 

Theoretically I could on and on about the past few weeks, what, with our family's second round of COVID, a major house upgrade that made an emergency home repair needed, a two night hospital stay, a cross-state trip, all on top of kids and 60 hour work weeks and all sorts of stuff like school, dance class and lacrosse...but you're probably exhausted with your own stuff for me to load you down with all of mine. 

Know what helps us get through, and maybe spice it up? A good snack, with a little kick. Something like Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Seasoned Almonds. 

Man, I'd been looking forward to the TJ's buffalo almonds for weeks until they finally appeared on the shelves here in the 'burgh. We always seem to be last to get anything here, but once I could get my grubby hands on the half pound sack for only $3.99, I was all over them like the seasoning powder on these nuts. 

One word: spicy. Reallllll spicy. It's been a hot minute since anything kinda buffalo-ey got to me, but these almost do. The spice powder practically radiates red hot heat that's in and around every single bite. It's intense and strays close to too much. Maybe that's my inner old man emerging as I'm turning the last corner towards 40, but man, these nuts are muy picante. 

But lest you think that the piquant pungency is all that's present, there's more. Even before reading the ingredients, I noted a palpable creaminess in the powder seasoning. No, it's not really either ranch or blue cheese - it's more just a suggestion of milky goodness that puts the smallest of a damper on the flavor. Personally, I like it, as it's vaguely suggestive of dipping a buffalo wing in a little sauce to cool it down. Buuuuuuut, to be picky, I'd prefer a little bleu cheese flavor over plain cream. 

Combine all this with a traditional straight up toasty good almond, and boom. It's a fiery snacktime to keep ya going. 

Good stuff all around, and I'll intend on picking up more for whatever the crazy road up ahead holds. No complaints all around. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Buffalo Style Seasoned Almonds: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Trader Joe's When Life Gives You Lemons Make Ice Cream


Okay, now THIS is lemon ice cream.

It's not lemon sherbet, sorbet, or shave ice. It's not frozen lemon curd. And it's not an ice cream that just has a hint of lemon essence. It has the sour zip of real lemon all through it, from start to finish and also the rich, creamy sweetness of real ice cream.

As if just to say, "We don't care about your silly opinions, you foodie-hacks," Trader Joe's slapped us in the face with their discontinuation of the legendary Lemon Triple Gingersnap Ice Cream many years ago. There hasn't been anything like it since.

And there still isn't. This isn't a replacement for that early entry into our Pantheon. It's not that this one is worse or better. It's just different. It's like comparing apples and oranges. Or...comparing lemons...to slightly different lemons.


Ahem. What I mean is: that classic discontinued treat was an incredible balance of deliciously subtle lemon and gingerrific snippity snaps. With this product, the lemonosity is off the charts. There's much less in the way of milky sweetness here, and nothing gingery either. And if you love lemon like I do, that's good news.

But in a way, this product is almost too sour. Like it borders on being too tartly lemony. The caches of lemon swirl throughout the ice cream are very similar to lemon curd, but not nearly as sweet. Each bite of it made my mouth pucker—but not in a bad way.

The shortbread pieces don't lend much flavor-wise. Honestly, I wouldn't have minded if they were chock-full of ginger. The sweetness of the shortbread is totally overshadowed and overwhelmed by the lemoniness in the rest of the product, but it does add a bit of soft chewy cookie texture, which breaks up the absolute smoothness of the ice cream and lemon swirl nicely.


This is hands down the most lemony ice cream I've ever had and it's honestly pretty high on the list for most lemony product of all time of any kind in my experience...except for maybe an actual lemon.

If you LOVE lemon flavored things, you've got to check this out. Don't expect the lemon flavor to be balanced out by hints of ginger or vanilla or anything else, though.

This is much more of a summer flavor than an early spring one, in my opinion, but we'll finish the pint easily, even if it's not hot outside. I'd buy again in a couple months. About three and a half bucks. Four and a half stars from me. Four from the beautiful wifey.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

Sooooo..... what's your favorite Easter candy?

'Cause I'm such a weirdo, mine is easily black jelly beans Love 'em, can't get enough. I'll eat them til my mouth tingles with sugary bitterness and once subsided I'll go back for more. 

Not 100% sure for my lovely bride, but the mini Cadbury Creme Eggs are near the top. No, not the big, gooey filled ones (which just so happen to be second on my list) as those are a bit texturally challenging for her. The mini guys, just candy coated choclate, but somehow softer, sweeter and different than, say, regular ol' M&Ms. In her mind, few things could be better..

...except maybe Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. 

I wouldn't be surprised if we track down a case of these new candies. Really, there's no reason for them to be Easter-specific except maybe their cutesy robin egg-esque appearance, but even then...whatever. 

There's nothing all too new or novel here. Take an almond, enrobe it in a layer of the typically good quality TJ's dark choc, then slap on a candy shell and call it a day. That's all there is there ain't no mo'. 

Yet it's just so well done. There's a creaminess to the chocolate that's a bit unusual for the darker, less milky blend, and it's almost intoxicating. Add it in the earthy center of a decent roasty almond, and the fun sgary snap of a candy shell, and it's so easy to pop handful after handful. Maybe the chocolate is all churned by waterfall or has some other Wonka-fied madness to it, but it's just so good. 

Grab them. Petition the stores to make them year round. Buy buy buy. if somehow you don't like them, send us your surplus. I beg not on my own behalf, but instead plead for my wife - Lord knows she puts up with enough from me. The least I can do is try to get her an endless supply of a candy she adores. 

Sandy, in case you haven't figured it out, gives them a perfect unassailable score. I know better than to argue with her....I mean at least I should....but I'll mark them high myself. Get me my black jelly beans, get her bag aftyer bag of these tasty treats, and we'll be in hog heaven. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Candy Coated Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, April 11, 2022

Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters

When Sonia and I lived in Los Angeles, we frequented a place called Vegan Glory. Sonia and I weren't vegan then, nor are we now, but their Thai food was so amazing that we went there regularly with friends, the vast majority of whom were not vegan. It was a small, simple, unassuming restaurant at the end of a strip mall, but it often attracted celebrities and high-profile customers because the cuisine was so consistently fantastic.

Our favorite dessert there was banana spring rolls (although the coconut ice cream was a close second) We had some on our latest visit to L.A. when we RV'd through SoCal in 2019. They were still ridiculously tasty. So of course we've been searching for something that could take the place of those spring rolls since we've been apart from that outstanding restaurant.

Enter: Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters. I won't say they're AS GOOD as those banana spring rolls, but they're pretty darn close. And of course, these are "fritters" as opposed to "spring rolls" but they're still a desserty banana-based vegan dish with crispiness on the outside...so very similar.


Six minutes in the air fryer and the smell just overwhelmed the kitchen. I snatched my three fritters out of the basket piping hot and ate them with my bare hands. I don't necessarily recommend consuming them that way, as they are quite oily on the outside. I think Sonia used a fork and ate hers from a plate. Either way, they were tasty.

Banana is the dominant flavor. But there's a nice blend of other essences like coconut milk and sesame. There's a good bit of added sugar, too—enough to appease the average sweet tooth at dessert time, I'd say. At least half of each bite is banana, but there's a significant amount of rice flour breading, as well. Texture-wise, there's a nice crispy crunch on the outside and soft, supple banana on the inside.


$3.79 for six fritters, found in the frozen section. We'd buy again. Four and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Four stars from me for Trader Joe's Thai Banana Fritters.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki


 Here's another periodic reminder that I am a complete amatuer foodie-hack, not overly familiar with many great dishes and treats from around the globe, but always willing to try. 

So, Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki...can't say I've ever even heard of them before they plopped into my grocery cart. Thank goodness for the 'murican-'splained "Korean spicy stir-fried rice cakes" in the banner, because that, I can hold a concept of. 

These are, at first bite, interesting. There's a few ways to make them, I opted for what purported to be the crispiest option by inserting these oversized frozen rice poogs into the airfryer, while seperately simmering the almost glowing red sauce. I'm not sure if crispy is the right word, because there's still plenty of soft mochi-like chewiness to each bite, but the outside layer  did have a faint crispness, so there you go I guess. It's an unusual to my palate yet pretty fun bite. 


That sauce though...it never really thickened up the way I hoped it would despite following the instructions, far as I know. That being said, I almost didn't mind. It's vibrant and rich with plenty of red pepper and garlic kick. Man, if sold separately, I'd pour it over any number of things. Delicious stuff, and highly recommended as long as you can take some spice. 

Here's one of the times that TJ's really succeeds if looked at from a certain vantage point. Sure, I'm far from a tteok bok ki expert, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and wager that the TJ's version isn't the best in the world. Heck, how authentic it really is (or isn't) is above my pay grade here. But...now I know I'd stand a pretty excellent chance at enjoying the real deal, so if ever granted the opportunity, I'm gonna go for it without hesitation. That somewhat harkens back to the OG TJ's business plan of introducing new tastes and experiences to their customers. For me, it succeeds here. 

A good sized bag, enough for a big side dish or appetizer for two or more, was only around $3 or $4. Absolutely worthwhile in my opinion. If you got a more expert take than I do, fire away. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Tteok Bok Ki: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, April 4, 2022

Trader Joe's Pain au Lait Chocolate Chip

This product was absolutely screaming our names from the breads section at Trader Joe's. We enjoyed its predecessor so much, we were both excited to see a version with chocolate chips. Chocolate chips make everything better, right?

Well, in this case, maybe not—at least in our humble opinion. Chocoholics may disagree, but this product made Sonia and I realize that we are milk roll purists. At least in my case, I'd never had an honest-to-goodness French milk roll until I tried the plain pain au lait from Trader Joe's. That was some amazingly special bread: the soft texture, the milky flavor just absolutely wowed us. Other than fresh-baked, that might have been the best plain bread I've ever had. And this bread flaunts the same flavor and same texture. Still amazing. Still top-shelf. But the chocolate chips don't really add anything.


At first, there's something novel about it. I mean, it's candy baked right into the bread. What a great idea, right? But after a few bites, we both found ourselves pining for the pure, unadulterated taste and texture of the delicious bread without anything detracting from it.

Get your hands on the original stuff if you can. If not, this product is still pretty freaking tasty. If we'd tried this version first, I'm sure we would've been a bit more impressed. We didn't see the original pain au lait at our TJ's on our last visit, but I hope that doesn't mean it's been discontinued.


$2.99 for the bag. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from this guy. We'd buy again, but only in the absence of the plain pain.

I suppose it's pronounced more like "pan" or "pon" than the English word "pain," but to quote the Princess Bride:

Life is pain, Highness.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Trader Joe's Oat Chocolate Bars

There's a lot of power in preconceived notions, right? 

I'm going to use the possibly new Trader Joe's Oat Chocolate Bars as an example. 

See: I grew up not far from Hershey, PA, the self-proclaimed chocolate capital of the world. I've grown to realize their particular brand might not be the absolute best that's out there. Still, their chocolate is fairly ubiquitous, right? It's easily identifiable and serves as an easy standard to which one can easily compare all other chocolates too, , even if only to say how much better whatever the chocolate is compared to Hershey's. There's a reason we often use Hershey's as a comparison in our reviews as our yardstick. 

Welllll....one small bite of these TJ's oat chocolate bars, and I was ready to toss it and find me a Hershey's.

There's something just "off" about them, on first bite, that I didn't like. It tasted...grainy, and more than perceptibly so. Just off, and not "like what a milk chocolate bar should taste like." I stray more towards dark chocolate, but when going the lighter route, I guess I want the fullness and comfortable richness that regular ol' dairy milk helps afford and things like oats can't quite replicate. 

I ate the rest (I mean, it's chocolate, after all) but that initial impression, formed by years of my own experience, didn't change much. 

Then it kinda hit me: "my own experience." What about others? 

My lovely bride originally bought these as a small snack for herself and a friend who's vegan. It's a three pack, so two for them and one for me. Perfect. Anyways, if someone was vegan or dairy free, whether by choice or by need...I guess the TJ's is a pretty decent "milk" chocolate bar. There is a certain smoothness and even a touch of creaminess that the bar replicates reasonably well. Everyone deserves a chance at a good milk chocolate bar, right? 

In the end, this still won't be my chocolate of choice, but that's okay. I'm glad it's out there as an available option for whoever it would appeal for. Choices are good, and what doesn't work for me will probably work for someone else. It's all good. 

Anyways, I'm not a huge fan, but my wife and her friend were, so I'll lean more on their judgment than mine and say it's worth a shot, especially if traditional milk chocolate just isn't for you, for any reason. Double fours? Sure. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Oat Chocolate Bars: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons