So, Nathan and I are kinda similar overall. We both love eating Trader Joe's stuff and blogging about it, we both graduated from Penn State at more or less the same time, and the two of us significantly outkicked our coverage with our much better looking wives. My folks when they first saw our write-up from the good folks at The Daily Meal said judging from our pics on there, we could have been twins separated at birth, which if that's the case, there's some dark family secret I don't want to know about. I'm the squintier looking guy.
It seems like, at times, we have similar shopping habits and curiosities nearly simultaneously. For instance, Sandy got one delectable looking Trader Ming treat a month or two ago, and planned to eat it on a certain night so I could review it ... well, that same day Nathan posted his review on the same tasty beef and broccoli treat, so that got nixed. Doh. Last week, I dodged a bullet of sorts when he decided to try out an adventurous chile-mango combo at the same time I did ... he did the frozen version though, and I picked up the dried fruit version. Whew.
Unlike Nathan, though, my awesome Comcast Internet connection has been on the fritz all week until now, not allowing me to write or post any reviews. Thanks for holding down the fort, sir.
Anyways, like Nathan, as a good old Pennsylvania boy, chile and mango is not a combination that I was accustomed to growing up. The craziest we got with flavor combos in my childhood was putting pretzels on our ice cream. I've been to Mexico twice but have somehow avoided the chile and fruit phenomenon down there, so I'll admit this is my first foray into this gustatory realm.
It's not something I'm willing to give up on quite yet, but I don't think the Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Mango dried fruit chunks made the best introduction. The issue is, I think, for a flavor combination to work, there has to be at least two flavors present. With these, literally all you can taste is the chile. It's coated on the mango pieces like sand on some cheap sandpaper. And since it's dried fruit, with juiciness being the essence of mango flavor, well ... the mango flavor is there, barely perceptible. It takes a lot of work to get at it, and with the heat level radiating off the spices, it may not be something you're willing to do. I wish Trader Joe's would halve the spice on these and redistribute it in some of their other goods, and try to figure out a way to let the mangoey goodness shine through. It's just so imbalanced that it doesn't really work.
Sandy and I tried a piece at the same time. She didn't have quite the reaction I expected, but it wasn't exactly positive either. I think she managed to get down her one small piece she took, but that's all she's ever going to have. I can munch on them here and there, but I'm not the biggest fan of them either. It's not that they're too spicy for us (though I think they are the spiciest thing we've ever purchased at TJ's), but the heat drowns out any trace of the mango. Honestly, you could tell me these were chile-laden chunks of tough orange leather, and I would have no basis to not believe you. About the only thing I'm looking forward to in regard to these is bringing them into work, having them on my desk, and daring coworkers to try them. They already think I'm weird enough because of my occasionally shaved head, my expressed love of long bike rides, my French press coffee, and my generally persistent amicable demeanor. Bringing in the remaining bagful of these guys might ratchet me up to a whole 'nother level.
Sandy gives them a 1. I'll be the slightly more gracious one this time and give them a 2. Kinda like my thoughts on chocolate flavored gum and the cupholders in my Subaru - good concept, but in practice, it just doesn't quite work, at least not in this case.
Bottom line: 3 out of 10 Golden Spoons