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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Dark Chocolate PB&J Minis

Ah, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "Sandwiches." Did I ever tell you guys that when Sonia and I first started dating, I noticed she pronounced "sandwich" funny? I learned quickly that it's basically the same word in Spanish as it is in English, and she was pronouncing it the Spanish way. It's almost like "sandweech" in Spanish. Also, the "a" sound in the first syllable tends to be enunciated more when a Spanish-speaker says it. I mean, maybe that's just my opinion, but the bottom line is that I immediately seized the opportunity to make fun of her to no end like a good boyfriend should. I began exaggerating her odd pronunciation more and more every time sandwiches would come up in conversation. "Saandweech" became "saandoweech" became "saandamoweeacha" and so on. At first, she was slightly miffed but then eventually succumbed to the absurdity of my annoying attempts at mocking her and started smiling when I said the word. To this day, I can't say the word "sandwich" around her normally, and we both kind of chuckle when I find a way to butcher the word even further.

However, like its 2013 predecessor, this candy is definitely NOT a PB&J sandwich, nor is it trying to be one. It's just a one-of-a-kind candy—well, I guess it's a two-of-a-kind candy now...sort of.

Let's start with the similarities. Both this candy and the PB&J chocolate bar have peanut butter, raspberry jelly, and chocolate. Both are snacktastic, TJ's-esque, and have exactly one thing in common with a PB&J sandwich: peanut butter—two if you're a weirdo that makes PB&J sandwiches with raspberry jelly. 

As far as dissimilarities go, there are quite a few. The product is organic now. It's miniature and individually-wrapped. They're using dark chocolate here instead of milk chocolate and—it's been a while since I've had a PB&J chocolate bar—but I think there's a bit more jelly in this mix. Sonia thinks the extra bit of jelly works since the sweet and tart of the jelly is balanced by the bitter aspects of the dark chocolate, as opposed to milk chocolate. Also, she wished for more jelly in the bar version—and now she got her wish. 

I agree that dark chocolate works better when there's more jelly, but I still prefer the combo of milk chocolate and not that much raspberry jelly. Another gripe about this product: I feel like these are way too big for a single bite, but they get quite messy if you bite them in half. In short, I like the bar a tad more, Sonia likes these minis a tad more. At $2.99 for the bag of eight squares, it's definitely a fun snack worth a purchase or two. 

The little missus gives these four stars. I give them three and a half.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Trader Joe's Barbeque Popped Ridges

There's a certain order for most things, right? And when that order is out of whack, it causes a bit of confusion. Sometimes we're not even aware that there is an order until it is disrupted.

Such as it is with Trader Joe's Popped Barbeque Ridges.

Whoops, there, I did it again. I mean Trader Joe's Barbeque Popped Ridges.

See what I mean? Putting "Popped" first seems more natural, doesn't it? There's a natural order to adjectives in the English language, and while the name of this snacky TJ's new particular item isn't a textbook example (though a new particular snacky TJ's item could be), it brought this to mind.

I keep wanting to put Popped first. But it's second. Maybe it's all so I can't refer to these chips as TJ's PBR and get some hipsters really confused.

Anyways, the chips. I guess you can call them that, but as you can see, the packaging refrains from describing these snacks in that way. The texture and crunch of these ridges is more like potato stick mixed with corn chips with a little extra styrofoam. It's a little offputting and is my major demerit. I don't eat junk food like this all that often, so maybe there's other similar products out there that have the same kinda structure to them. I've had popped items before, though, but none of them struck me like this.

Everything else is pretty on par. The barbeque seasoning is pretty representative - a little tangy, a little sweet, a little smoky, a little salty. Sandy described it as "cheap bbq flavoring" which is more or less accurate - TJ's went the tried-and-true route and didn't swing for the fences here.

Not sure what else to really say about them. In all the popped ridge thingamabobs are okay, and aren't terribly pricey at less than $3 a bag. I can't see these being a new favorite, though. If these were 100% potato chip, they'd be unremarkable but fine. If they were 100% corn chip, it'd also work. But as a half-and-half conglomeration of crispy crunchy snacks, well, they're just odd. Kinda offputting. We're likely to finish the bag just fine, but it won't be in one sitting for sure. Not that bingeworthy. They are gluten free but that's likely not a huge surprise.

Sandy musters them an uninspired three while I'll slide in half a spoon behind.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Barbeque Popped Ridges: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, March 15, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Spicy Avocado Hummus

If pluots and tangelos are things, why aren't chilicados? I don't care if it's half jalapeno or poblano or whatever. This is something that needs to happen: half avocado, half...any kind of chili pepper hybrids. I'm sure there's some sort of scientific reason it can't be done, or perhaps, less likely, some overly-moralistic vegetable farmer discovered the formula but decided that it wasn't his place to "play God." Well, my faithful friend, I would argue that God gave you those brains and farming skills for a reason, and that no harm could possibly come from crossing spicy chilis and avocados. They'd make delicious salsa, guacamole, sandwich-toppers, and...yes, even hummus. C'mon, Monsanto, what could help your public image more than inventing chilicados?

But until that fateful day arrives, thankfully, we have products like this one to tide us over. It begs comparison to the recently-released Buffalo style variety, but alas, we didn't try that one. We'll just have to take the Shelly family's word for it. I'm a much bigger fan of avocado than I am of Buffalo that all worked out quite well.

And it's not just avocado here. It's "spicy avocado." If there's one thing I like more than avocados, it's chilicados—which, of course, don't actually exist yet. But the combo of avocado with jalapeno, cayenne, and black pepper, along with garlic and cumin = win.

Now, on the other hand, if you're looking for spicy guacamole, you're looking in the wrong place. The texture is very smooth and hummussy. It's smoother even, perhaps, than ordinary hummus. It also tastes a great deal like ordinary garbanzo-based hummus, but simply flavored with "avocado pulp" and the aforementioned peppers. That's my only complaint. I love garbanzo beans and traditional hummus, but what makes this product unique is its avocadoiness and spiciness. I wouldn't have minded more avocado and less hummus in the flavor department, but that's a minor complaint. It's an excellent product, so long as you like hummus and spicy avocado.

It works great with toasted pita bread, and it's excellent as a chip dip. Sonia is an avocado enthusiast, and she loves her spice, as well. This product is right up her alley. She, too, wouldn't have complained if there were a little more avocado present, but as is, she's a big fan. She likes that it's organic and that there aren't many ingredients. It'll be her second four and a half star score in a row. I'll throw out four.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.