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Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Trader Joe's Bamba Puffed Peanut & Corn Snacks with Hazelnut Creme Filling

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the Choco Taco. It's a great idea, right? If meat, cheese, beans, and other salty, savory ingredients work in a particular format, why wouldn't a bunch of sweet, desserty ingredients work in the same manner?

So instead of taking the classic arrangement of a taco and turning it into a dessert, this is almost like doing the same with Combos bite-sized stuffed snacks. Instead of cracker or pretzel as an outer shell, we have a classic Bamba peanut puff. Instead of cheese filling, we've got Nutella-esque hazelnut creme right down the middle of these cylindrical snacks.

Of course Bamba peanut poofs are much lighter and less dense than any Combos shell I've had, but they're still rigid enough to serve as the vehicle for a generous dollop of rich hazelnut creme in each and every bite. The original peanutty Bamba snacks were very popular in Israel. I'm not sure if this version is big over there in the Levant, too, or if this is a "LOL stupid, fat Americans will only eat peanut snacks if they're stuffed with chocolate" kind of thing. I do see that this version, as well as the original, is a "Product of Israel."


Chocolate and peanut butter is a combination that's hard to get wrong. I mean, it's hazelnut creme, not "chocolate" per se, but there is real cocoa in the ingredients. 

Did you know how Nutella came to be? In WW2, there was a cocoa shortage throughout Europe, but an Italian confectioner named Ferrero found he could use hazelnuts to stretch out his limited cocoa supply. Amazing. Let's hope WW3 yields similar delicious discoveries.

These things are scrumptious. There's actually a good balance between the peanut and hazelnut flavors. They're still crispy and crunchy, but there's a nice smooth component now, too. At least as addictive as their predecessor, it's seriously kind of a struggle to not eat the whole bag in one sitting, although supposedly there are three servings in there.

Their only drawback? They're a little oily. You'll need a napkin or a wet wipe when you're done, unless you're really into that whole finger-lickin' good vibe.

$1.69 for the bag. That's a great value in my book. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Perfect five from me.

Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Trader Joe's Sour Jelly Beans

 

My dad has a saying he'll pull up from time to time: If everyone were to gather together, and be able to lay all their problems and troubles down in its own pile, then be able to walk around and shop for a new pile, most people would end up picking their own back up. 

Been an interesting past couple weeks here. Back to school, work stress, COVID cases and close contacts throwing a wrench into many a plan...I could go on, but nah. I got my pile, you got yours. That's not to say i don't care about others' problems - I do - but maybe what's really trying to be said by that saying is, a lot of times, anything that could leave a sour taste in my mouth doesn't amount to much more than a hill of beans in the long run. 

Now only if it could be a hill of Trader Joe's Sour Jelly Beans. That'd be a pile I'd pick again and again. 

Late summer/not quite fall is an odd time to debut such a product, I'd think. We should be grateful these aren't Sour Pumpkin Spice beans or some weirdo concoction, though I'm afraid I just gave somebody an idea. Why not spring, when jelly bean season is literally hoppin' with the Easter bunny? Don't know. Oh well.


Anyways, these little sour jelly beans are pretty tasty. Of course, the sour candy standard would be Sour Patch Kids, and while TJ's beans lack the punch of SPK's, there's still enough to go around. I personally enjoyed offering some to my kids without telling them they were sour just to see the little puckered faces they'd make. That was worth the price of admission right there. But to me I'd say the beans are more tart, and a little sweet, kinda like, well, a SweeTart than actually really truly sour. 

The different colors are probably meant to denote different flavors, but they all taste more or less the same, with perhaps a little variance in the sweet/tart ratio. Pretty colors though. 

And the descriptor "chewy" is right on. The beans aren't gelatinous in a typical jelly bean kinda way - they're definitely more just "chewy" which is absolutely fine and it works. 

The real sour part, though, may be when my lovely bride reads this review and realizes the kids and I ate the whole package while she was out. Sorry, love. It's a small bag, it just kinda happens...next time I go to TJ's I'll get one just for you.

Anyways this small pack of sour snacks isn't life changing or incredibly good or bad...it just kinda is. That's not a bad thing. Personally I'd love more sour bite, but as is, the jelly beans are good enough to get a pass in my book. $1.49 for the package? Sounds right. I'd pick them up again for sure. Now about everything else...

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sour Jelly Beans: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Trader Joe's Sweet & Savory Lightly Spiced Pumpkin Spread

So technically pumpkin's a fruit, right? The experts say so anyway. And we know we're supposed to accept the opinions of the experts and not really rock the boat with dissenting opinions these days.

So my question is: why isn't this "pumpkin fruit spread." Hmmm? All the other fruits like pineapple, apple, watermelon, strawberry, banana, and peach all got "fruit spread" as part of their condiments' monikers.

Maybe it's because some people don't accept pumpkin as a fruit and think of it more as a vegetable. So why isn't it "pumpkin vegetable spread"? Maybe there's an unfair bias against pumpkins.

Or maybe Trader Joe's just didn't want to open that can of worms and start an all-out war between those who think of pumpkin as a vegetable and those who think of pumpkin as a fruit. They just decided to sit on the fence and let you the consumer decide. Not pumpkin fruit spread. Not pumpkin vegetable spread. Just pumpkin spread.

Whether fruit or vegetable or both or neither, the packaging on this product is fun. Kinda rustic and farmer's market-esque. There are at least a couple elements that are totally unnecessary and simply for show. I guess they're channeling that homemade and put in a Mason jar sorta vibe.


Opening the jar, the smell is...unique. It's almost like honey...mixed with an odd gourd-like smell. Like it actually smells like when you're carving a jack-o-lantern and you have the pumpkin guts all over newspapers on the floor and you're pulling the seeds out of the wet, stringy innards of the pumpkin. Like that—and honey.

Pumpkin is the number one ingredient here. There's actually no honey in the mix, but I'm guessing cane sugar yields a sweetness comparable to that of honey. This isn't a spoon it out of the jar type spread here in my opinion. It needs to be mixed and tempered with other foods and ingredients in order to be palatable. The jar suggests eating it with cheeses, cold cuts, roasted meats, or vegetables.


We tried it with crackers and goat cheese and it sorta kinda worked I guess. We tried it with turkey cold cuts and that wasn't really a winner, either. I guess I'm just struggling to find a purpose for this condiment. I need a pumpkin spread pairing wheel like they do with wines and stuff here. The suggestions on the jar are too vague.

Still it's an interesting product, not hampered by an excess of pumpkin spices or cloying, unchecked sweetness. I can't decide if I like the chunks of raw actual pumpkin floating throughout the mixture or if I think they're gross. Time will tell. For now, I give this stuff two and a half stars. Sonia will go a full star higher with three and a half.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.