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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Pancake Bread

Currently, my kids are obsessed with the movie The Greatest Showman. It's the music, I think, as evidenced by them commanding Alexa to play the soundtrack essentially nonstop. It's a good movie - I've always been a Hugh Jackman fan (who isn't?) and as much as ten-years-ago me would mock current me for saying it, Zac Efron got some talent. If you're not familiar, it's the story of PT Barnum and how he built his circus empire. One of his tricks: kinda massaging the truth a little, to kinda hoodwink the paying customer a little. Like, for instance, having the "world's tallest man" already be an abnormally tall guy, but then putting him on stilts. Or having the "world's largest man" shove a few pillows under his clothes for a little dramatic effect. In a way, it's kinda an innocent playful deception, which most people knew but were willing to be lured in any way by the show and spectacle of it.

All this brings me to Trader Joe's Pancake Bread.

In a world full of carbo-crossovers, most involving pretzels or crosissants (but never pretzels AND croissants - c'mon now!), we now have this. Pancakes and bread, together, in perfect harmony, right? How did it take so long for this to be a thing?

Be honest though. Close your eyes. Forget the label that says "pancake bread." Take a taste. Does it really taste like pancakes? Really? Be honest.

To me, nah. Blindfolded, I'd say it tastes more like a soft cinnamon bread than anything else. All the crumblies on top is more brown sugar, etc than anything else. To be fair, there is a maple essence as well. It's soft and crumbly and a little moist and definitely, and not more rugged or dense like a banana bread. The bread makes an excellent snack, a quick breakfast, would be delicios warmed or eaten straight from the container...but it's more bread than a pancake.

Slap the name "Pancake Bread" on it....okay, now that it's been suggested, I can see it.

Of course, if it were to be named "Soft Cinnamon Maple Bread", while being more apt a descriptor, that's not nearly as exciting. I mean, it'd take me years to buy it probably. But embellish the truth a smidge in some backroom marketing meeting, call it pancake bread - voila! Take the world by storm!

This is why I don't work in marketing.

For the record, Sandy disagrees with me. "It tastes just like a pancake with a lot of syrup kinda drenched in," she said. It should be noted that she enjoys her pancakes with a small puddle of syrup on the side which she daintily dips her pancake bites in, so she'd know what a syrup-logged pancake would actually taste and feel like is beyond me. Other online reviews I've seen claim the TJ's pancake bread tastes just like a buttermilk pancake. I can see where it's all coming from, but it's overstating the facts in my lonesome, sure to be unpopular opinion.

Regardless, the pancakesque loaf is delicious and kinda intoxicating in its carby-comfort ways. I love it. I just wish it were more honest with itself. If Hugh Jackman PT Barnum can, so can this bread, right? My only downvote is for the slight deception of purported pure pancakeyness.  Matching fours from the wife and me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Pancake Bread: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, January 14, 2019

Trader Joe's Fruit & Nut (& Other Stuff) Crisps


Petrified fruitcake slices.

Not the most flattering of descriptions, I know. But that's what I'm going with here as the opening line of this review. If you think there's any way you could ever be into Grammy's old-fashioned fruitcake—particularly a specimen from, I don't know, the 1920's?—left on a shelf to harden and crustify into a nearly rock-like state, yet paradoxically retain a fair amount of freshness flavor-wise, then read on. If that's something you don't think could ever work or that you would never ever try, then there's not a whole lot of hope you'll like this product, in my estimation.

I used the term "rock-like" above. I won't take it back just yet, but I'll elaborate. Rocks are extremely hard, obviously, but when broken into very thin pieces, in the manner of slate rock, for example, they're also quite frangible. Same with these crisps. They're not unlike bagel chips, texture-wise, but they're darn solid. Brittle. They shatter in your mouth. Their explosive kinetic energy can, however, be tempered with cheese. We did indeed enjoy them with a nice chevre, and not only was their flavor enhanced, but their intense oral fragmentalization was considerably mitigated.


In the taste department, they're impressive. I mean, that is, if you like fruitcake. These are fruit crisps—fruit and nut (and other stuff) crisps—to be exact. We don't see parentheses a lot in the titles of Trader Joe's products. I'm not sure how I feel about the use of parentheses in general, let alone in the title of a product or film or album or work of art. But I digress. Let's just be thankful they can't get away with using that trick in the ingredients list just yet.

Ingredients: Fruit, nuts, (other stuff).

Although, isn't that what it feels like when they put "other natural flavors" at the end of the list? Just to be clear, they did not do that here, but I see it far too often on various products. Again with the digression...

I was saying the taste of this product is nutty, fruity, slightly sweet, and it flaunts a rich bready flavor, as well. As mentioned above, it blends perfectly with chevre. TJ's also recommends serving the crisps with brie or cured meats on the packaging. We can't vouch for those, but I'd imagine they'd work just fine, too.

If snacking on nutty, fruity glass shards sounds appealing, put your favorite oral healthcare specialist on speed dial and dig in.

Maybe I'm exaggerating about the texture.

Am I exaggerating about the texture?

Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Slims

"Hey are you gonna make a Fatboy Slim reference in your review?"

"Wha..who?...Fatboy Slim? Jeez, now that's a name from forever ago. What brought him up?"

"Well Pageflip* says 20 years ago he had the number one hit and you're reviewing the Joe-Joe's Slims so maybe I thought..."

"Ah okay, I thought maybe you were poking fun at me again, like I'm the fat boy who wants to be slim again."

"Ha, that's true too. Stop eating all the damn cookies then."

Actual real conversation this evening between my wife and me. Well, close enough. I don't know what app she was looking at but Pageflip sounded right in my head, but then again so do Spacebook and MyFace.

Well, here we are. Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Slims. Unlike the actual product, that name is kinda mouthful. It's like Trader Joe's3 Slims. That's a litte more streamlined if not confusing for the non-math savvy crowd.

Take a basic Joe-Joe, or your basic Oreoesque sandwich cookie. Make a thin version. Voila. It's an idea that's been done and around for a while. Some people seem to love slim thin cookies. I'm more indifferent. I want something big and crunchy to really bite into, instead of something wispy and snappy.

That's kinda the experience here with the TJ's slims. There's not enough cookie wafer to really develop that more enjoyable (to me) experience of a standard issue cookie. It's almost more cracker than cookie in a way. The sandwich creme doesn't suffer as much, even there's less of it. In some ways the creme even stands out a little more. My guess is the ratio got wacked with the slender crisps serving as the base or not, which is definitely not a complaint.

But yeah, the classic sandwich cookie, except thin. Twist apart and scrape out the creme. Dunk them in a glass of milk. Eat a couple and be good. Eat a few more and console yourself with the fact that two of these maybe equals one regular cookie. Eat the whole box over a course of a week (like I did because NO ONE ELSE WAS TOUCHING THEM) and draw the ire of your spouse. It's all good. You don't need to be skankin' like a Rockefeller and pretend to be all classy with them. Not sure if I have to celebrate these cookies, but I'll praise them like I should with a solid not bad.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Joe-Joe Slims: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons