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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Trader Joe's Apple Caramels


 "You know, they taste just like those lollipops."

"Uhh...what lollipops?"

The lollipops...there's a lollipop just like these caramels. You'd know them if you saw them."

"Well, alright, Becca - thanks again~!"

Such was the conversation, more or less, with one of my favorite TJ's cashiers, Becca, who's always kind and friendly and eager for my opinion on anything TJ's. It was at her insistence I purchased this box of Trader Joe's Apple Caramels.

Back out at the car, where my lovely bride was waiting with our two youngest, I relayed this conversation, when Sandy said. "Oh yeah! Those lollipops! I know what she meant. C'mon!"

I asked her to pull up these apparently universally known to everyone except me lollipops on her Googlemachine, she showed me a pic...no, I have no idea. 

Fortunately, we're talking caramels, not lollipops today. These fall-themed TJ's goodies are quite a nice little treat. They're just little soft, kinda gooey caramels twist-wrapped up into bite-sized logs. While soft and squeezy, they're not quite sticky - at no point did I feel my extensive amount of dental work was under threat. That's not always the case with candies like these, so that's hugely appreciated.

The caramel flavor itself is decently rich - it's of good quality but not a game changer by itself. It's nicely complemented by the apple flavor, though I'm a bit confused. To my taste, it's more granny smith tart than apple cider rich. It's not bad, but not as cidery as I'd like either. 

Here's the major drawback - this candy is way overpackaged. The box is ridiculous, as there's a cellophane pack inside, that then contains the individually wrapped candies. It's completely unnecessary, that box. Just print everything on the cellophane pack! Why a box? I'm guessing maybe to help make sure they won't get too squished, but it just seems silly to me. 

Anyways, I happen to enjoy the caramels quite a bit bit. The kids are split - one of them didn't even finish one, saying it was too messy, which  is incredibly ironic coming from her. Maybe if we found "those lollipops" she'd like them better...anyways. Good pick-me-up, and good pickup for a couple bucks. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Apple Caramels: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Trader Joe's Roasted Turkey & Sweet Potato Burrito


I guess it's more of a November thing than an October thing, but some time in the fall, gobbler-style wraps, sandwiches, and even Mexican-inspired dishes like burritos roll out of the woodwork with turkey instead of beef or chicken, along with hearty harvest fillings instead of beans and lettuce. This lunchtastic item isn't quite a "gobbler" in my book since there's no stuffing, but it's not a far cry from one, either.

We do have a bit of cranberry up in the mix, as many gobbler type snacks do. There's not a ton of it in here, however. Both Sonia and I wouldn't have minded more. And at this point, I must point out that it's actually "cranberry salsa" rather than your run-of-the-mill cranberry sauce—and it contains green jalapeƱo peppers alongside the fruit for just a mild to moderate kick.


Oddly, Sonia found the fillings in her half of the burrito to be wanting. I was more than pleased with the enormous chunks of turkey and sweet potato I found in mine. We both agree the quality was above par for both the meat and the sweet potato. The roasted turkey was particularly on-point in terms of taste and texture, cooked with a super tasty blend of herbs and spices like cumin, cilantro, paprika, and guajillo chile powder. Despite the many spices, the overall effect is sweet, thanks to the sweet potato, cranberry, and cane sugar.

There's a bunch of rice, which doesn't add or detract much in either direction. Black beans are mentioned in the ingredients list but neither of us found any discernible beanage throughout the melange. I wouldn't have minded a black bean or two. As it stands, I give this a hearty thumbs up and "would buy again" just for the top notch turkey and huge yummy chunks of sweet potato. Sonia wanted more turkey and potato but agrees about the high quality ingredients. It's possible the burrito was transported vertically on our way home and all the heavy filling items shuffled to one side before we heated it. Lucky me. I'll take this any day over 2020's Turkey & Pumpkin Mole Burrito.


$4.49 for the single serving burrito. Microwave and conventional oven heating instructions are printed on the packaging, but we winged it with the air fryer and it worked out nicely. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Four and a half from me for Trader Joe's Roasted Turkey & Sweet Potato Burrito.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Joe-Joe's Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies

Let's see...oil changes, parent-teacher conferences, paying taxes, mowing the lawn, doing the dishes, visiting the inlaws...and trying pumpkin spiced stuff.

What's all that have in common?

That's all stuff that can be done out of obligation, and not for enjoyment. Maybe not all are applicable to everybody, but to me, it'd take a real weirdo to truly enjoy more than one or two items on that list. 

But sometimes, you know...it goes right. Maybe you don't get the upsell for a junky filter or windshield wipers, or Lil' Susie Q has make some great strides, or you owe way less, or you don't run over a kid's toy, or you leave a bunch of snap peas hidden for your sister to find and get mad about to tattle to your mom only for your mom to make her finish the rest of the dishes (personal story of mine from growing up, one of my favorites), or you have a really good convo....or you try Trader Joe's Joe-Joe's Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies. 

Coming from a true pumpkin spice agnostic - the Great Pumpkin *could* exist, but can't prove it - these cookies are legitimately sincerely good. It really was a surprise. I so thought one cookie and done, but no, not the case. I kinda wanted to devour the whole sleeve. 

The key here really is the sandwich creme. It's soft and fluffy and, well, creamy, and delicious. It's so rich and inviting, with just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg and whatever else goes into the pumpkin spice mix. It's exceptionally well done, and a far cry from the stiff, stale glop that was expected. It's a revelation. If this cream got sold in a plastic tub, I'd hammer it down by the ladleful, so probably good thing they don't.

The cookies are nice and crisp, and even the thin candy shell adds just the right amount of flavor and texture. Thicker shells can get to be too much, so I appreciate the "less is more" approach taken here as far as thickness - it's more a thin plating than an actual coating. The sea salt on my cookies wasn't overly noticeable, which to me is the right amount - it seems just enough to amp up the flavor but not overtake and be too salty and spoil the experience. 

Both the cookies and the coating are also pumpkin spiced, with some pureed pumpkin in there somewhere...so each cookie is a three pronged pumpkin spice attack. Lots of PS to go around, plenty really. And, surprising myself to write this, but the cookies are wonderfully, truly delicious. 

Really glad I picked this as my contractually obligated "one new TJ's pumpkin spice product to review" for this year. Really lucked out. Next time I'm stuck at Jiffy Lube on the way to my kid's school with my W2's, gas for the mower while chatting with my mother-in-law, I'll make sure to have a clean plate for a handful of these. That'd really make everything go better. I loved 'em as did the kiddos, and yes, my lovely bride, we saved you some, somehow. Delish. 

Bottom line:    Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spiced Joe-Joe's Pumpkin Sandwich Cookies: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons