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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.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds

"Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you!"

Ugh. I hate that sentiment, and with a brother just two years older than me, it's one I'm well acquainted with from growing up. I can hear that sing-songy tune right now. It grates. 

And now, with kids of my own, I see this attitude playing out again...and again...and again...and again...

...and again, but instead of sibling rivalry, this time it's with Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds. 

Who's doing the mocking though?

It's the ol' good 'merican standby: Peanut butter. 

Listen: it's fine that sunflower seed butter *exists*. I get it. Allergies are a thing, and some folks have to be careful, and it's great that replacement products and concepts are made and distributed to address that market need. +1 for capitalism there. Also, some people, for some odd reason, just prefer sunflower seed butter. To each their own, just don't infringe on my right to scrape out the Jif jar with a spoon. To me, peanut butter always has and will always be king. 

Maybe that's a big reason why, when it comes down to it, I just don't like these cookies all that much. They're undeniably sunflower buttery in a way that tries to emulate peanut butter but just can't. The first bite is bland and earthy, a touch salty, and with the soft and crumbly texture of the cookies it begs the question if I had just partaken of a clump of dirt. The seeds atop the cookies give a little crunch, but not in any sort of satisfying way. It's just there, and that's about it. 

Most of the rest of the tste experience is decidedly towards the bland side before taking a turn for the worse. You may as well add a bunch of sugar and sweeteners to try to overcompensate for the initial blandness. It just doesn't work here - while not overtly overboard, it doesn't mesh well and just tastes odd. I don't like it.


To be fair, I'm not sure I'd like these cookies much more if they were peanut butter anyways. It's just not a good cookie. Also, my mouth slightly itches for about five minutes after eating one.

And lest you think I'm overly prejudiced against sunflower butter, my lovely bride, with a palate much more gracious than mine at these kinda things, didn't like 'em much either. One bite was quickly followed by a grimace with a quick "sunflower butter doesn't work well in baking" comment. I've eaten enough of her cakes to know she knows what she's talking about. 

Oh well. at least they didn't turn green. I know that's harmless but unless it's St Patrick's Day, no green cookies please.

Yeah, no. We'll likely finish the box...eventually...but we are in no rush. The dozen cookies cost around $3 to $4 , so it's not a bad value for vegan gluten-free allergen free cookies, and I'm sure there's some fans out there, but that's not here. We'll be nice and do them some double deuces.  

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soft-Baked Sunflower Butter Cookies with Roasted Sunflower Seeds: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons