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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Trader Joe's PB&C Snack Duo

When snacks like this come along, I kinda wish I was in junior high school again, brown bagging my food. I'd pop out a treat like this one and all the kids would be like, "Whoa. What's that? I wanna try it!" And then I'd use the leverage to work out totally unfair lunch table bargains involving entire sandwiches being traded for only a singular exotic cocoa stick dipped in peanut butter. Feel free to give your kids the idea if they aspire to be some kind of cafeteria warlord or something. Or feel free to try it at your place of employment if you work on site. Just be sure to give your boss one stick for free so he'll look the other way as you clean out your co-workers.

Following in the footsteps of Trader Joe's PB&J Snack Duo, this new chocolate and peanut butter creation is the same concept, but with cocoa creme sticks and real peanut butter dip replacing peanut butter wafer sticks and raspberry jelly.

Improvements: the jelly in the last iteration was messy and sticky. The peanut butter in this product is less so. I like my snacks to have a lot of peanut butter flavor, so actual peanut butter is nice. This product seems more filling to me somehow. There's protein in peanut butter, so that could be part of it. And if there's one flavor combo I generally prefer over peanut butter and jelly, it's peanut butter and chocolate.

What's worse: the cocoa creme wafer sticks are okay, but they're nothing to write home about. They remind me a bit of Trader Joe's Petite Cocoa Batons. I guess I prefer the peanut butter creme wafer sticks. But if we had those again here, we'd have to call this product Trader Joe's PB&PB Snack Duo instead of Trader Joe's PB&C Snack Duo.

What's about the same: the sticks still want to snap in half when dunked in the dip. You really have to be gentle and slow, or you have to know exactly where to brace the stick so it won't break. It's a silly complaint, I know. But half of you wouldn't come here if not for the silliness.

In the end, Sonia likes these about the same as the PB&J dealies. And I should mention at this point that the PB&J Snack Duo has become an extremely regular purchase at our house. Like, Sonia picks them up every single time she goes to TJ's. I have a feeling these might become a regular purchase as well.

$3.99 for 6 packs of 8 sticks a piece. Certified kosher. Four and a half stars from Sonia on Trader Joe's PB&C Snack Duo. I guess I'll throw out four like I did for the previous iteration.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Trader Joe's Bananas Bananas! Candy

It's been a hot minute since we reviewed the classic Trader Joe's Gone Bananas! on this blog, but Sonia and I have purchased them many times since. They're still one of my personal favorite Trader Joe's items of all time. So naturally, I had to try this similarly named, similarly packaged candy featuring chocolate and banana flavors.

This one's shelf stable instead of frozen. There's plenty of chocolate here, but no real bananas. The only fruit presence is in the form of "banana powder." Doesn't sound super appetizing, but let's dig in anyway, shall we?

First impression: yum! There's a definite surge of banana flavor in the center of these candies. It's not quite like real banana, but it's close enough that you wouldn't mistake it for any other fruit. It's enough to balance out the abundant milk chocolate taste but doesn't dampen its potency.

The outer chocolate shell is firm but not too hard. The filling is only slightly softer. It's called "creme" but it's more al dente than a typical cream filling. Can I use "al dente" in a context unrelated to pasta? It just means "firm when bitten," right? I'm going with it either way. Al dente candy is a thing now...just because I said so.

There are also little crunchy things in the center of the mini-bananas. I might have guessed it was crispy rice, but I'm thinking now it's the cocoa nibs. I like 'em, although I think crisp, toasted rice would have worked at least as well. The nibs just get lost in the sea of chocolate, cocoa, and more chocolate.

The verdict? Worth a purchase or two for sure. Not as good as the original Gone Bananas! but few things are, at Trader Joe's or anywhere for that matter. $3.29 for 5 oz of banana flavored candy. No need for refrigeration or freezing. Might be a nice treat for school lunches or a hike in cool weather. I wouldn't think of these as a summer snack as much since the chocolate would no doubt get messy. The bag is resealable and the artwork on the packaging is fun. Four stars a piece from Sonia and me.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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.