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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Trader Joe's Spring Cupcake Mix

I have no idea if this product is back on Trader Joe's shelves again this year. They discontinue good stuff at the drop of a hat. Even if it's not back this spring, there's always a chance they'll bring it back in the future at some point, so just go ahead and read the review anyway and pretend it's relevant now. Mmkay? Thanks.

I procured my box by traveling back in time to Spring 2022. You didn't know I had a time machine? I've mentioned it before. I call it the magical DeLorean TARDIS time sled hot tub. Super original, right? I decided to pick up a box of this mix this year because I was unable to get my hands on one last spring.

And I'm glad I did. It's a tasty product. Some assembly required, of course. Also eggs, water, butter, and milk. Twenty-two minutes in the oven at 350° and we're in business.

Trader Joe's Spring Cupcakes came out super moist, sweet, and vanilla-y. The green frosting was a little runny at first, but after congealing in the fridge for a half hour or so, it got nice and spreadable. Oh—that's another thing: the frosting mix is white, but when you mix it with butter, it turns green. It's like a far-out science experiment. I can't even explain it...and I built a time machine.

There's nothing oily or cheap or sub-par about these cupcakes. Nothing that tastes off. Well, now that I say that, those little egg candies didn't blend so well with the other elements, texture or flavor-wise. They have a candy shell with dark chocolate and caramel within. There's nothing wrong with them, really. They just feel like an unnecessary gimmick that got thrown in at the last second to make the product feel more Eastery or springy or something.

$4.99 for the box of cake mix, frosting mix, and little dark chocolate caramel egg candies. Four stars a piece from Sonia and me for Trader Joe's Spring Cupcake Mix. And for those of you who wonder why I can't use my time machine to go forward to see whether TJ's brings this product back or not—well, of course I can. But there's no telling whether the timeline we wind up on as a collective is the same one I'll travel to in order to do product recon. I have seen at least one tangent universe where this product is back. But I've seen a bunch where it's not. In essence, the future isn't set in stone. Anyway, Sonia gives this product four out of five stars. I, John Titor, er...I mean Nathan, give this product four stars as well.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark

I like my chocolate like I like my women: dark and chunky

Ha, no. I can't even right now. I like my women petite, like my Sonia. And I actually prefer white chocolate. I just always wanted to say "I like my women like I like some food or beverage." I tried it once long ago, and it didn't work then either.

Seriously, though: a quick internet search will reveal that dark chocolate is the best kind of chocolate for raising serotonin levels in the body. Among other things, it's the chemical that regulates emotions, appetite, and sleep cycles. So despite a preference for the taste of white or milk chocolate, there are other reasons why I might reach for the dark variety once in a while.

And there's plenty of dark chocolate in this little bag of bark. There are big slabs of the stuff—mostly quadrilateral shapes. I'd say each chunk is at least four bites a piece, and I'd say the vast majority of the product is nothing but chocolate.

There are definitely almond and pretzel bits in every hunk, but the average bite only contains a teensy crumb of either almond or pretzel. It's rare if you get a detectable piece of nut and pretzel in the same bite.

That's my biggest complaint. I like the almond and pretzel presence here. I wish there were a bit more of it.

There's plenty of sea salt, though, in Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark. Just a slab or two will make you plenty thirsty. If anything, I think the salt could be toned down some.

I expected Sonia to enjoy this product a lot more than me since she's way more into dark chocolate, but she too wished there were more of the mix-ins throughout the bark and a lot less salt. She gives it three out of five stars.

I give Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bark three out of five stars, as well. Dark chocolate lovers might like this product more than I did by virtue of the dark chocolate content, but this product could use a little more pizzazz if you ask us. We'll finish the bag easily enough, but it's probably not a repeat purchase. $3.99 for 10 oz of kosher dark chocolate in a resealable bag.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Pretzels

Truth be told, I'm seldom in the mood for gingery snacks. Gingerbread? Yeah, I'm down with seasonal gingerbread treats, for sure. A touch of ginger in my ice cream? Darn skippy. Ginger beer? Heck yes.

But there's always a risk of ginger overload. We've seen it before in a Trader Joe's cereal as well as a few other places. Raw ginger is quite potent and has the potential to overpower any other flavors in a given product.

So why try Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Pretzels at all you ask? Because maybe ginger goes with pretzels better than I think it will. Maybe the ginger content is super flavorful but somehow not overpowering. Despite my expectations, this could be the most delicious snack I've ever tried. It's all about the adventure.

The pretzels are those same "teeny tiny" ones we've seen a few times from Trader Joe's in recent memory. Again, we've got a resealable bag for convenience, freshness, and that satisfying sensation you get when you feel those two plastic strips lovingly embrace one another.

The pretzels are a nice balance of sweet, salty, and gingery. There's ginger candy, crystallized ginger, and ginger snaps up in the mix. I guess the "ginger candy" is that white confectionery coating that covers the pretzels. It's like ginger-flavored white chocolate. I like it. The ginger snaps add crunch on top of the already crunchy pretzels, and the crystallized ginger gives just a hint of that throat-warming, tingly sensation that raw ginger can sometimes produce. The taste is fairly ginger forward, but the pretzel essence and sweet elements are never totally eclipsed.

All in all, this is a satisfying snack that will surely curb most ginger cravings without going crazy over-the-top into ginger overload territory. This combo works a lot better than I thought it would. Would I buy again? Quite possibly.

About three bucks for 7 oz of miniature pretzels. This will get the same score as the last product we looked at, but this time I'll be a bit more positive than the beautiful wifey. Three and a half out of five stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Pretzels. I'll throw out four stars.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 stars.