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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trader Joe's Oriental Rice Crackers

It's been a while since I've complained about the name of a Trader Joe's product. But this one affords me a golden opportunity to do so. Not Trader Joe-San? Not Trader Ming?  Perhaps the lack of an ethnic name stems from the fact that no single nationality lends itself to these crunchable little ricey puffs.

The good people at Trader Joe's, no doubt assuming that all Eastern peoples enjoy crisp ricey puff things, went with a name that suggested the entire continent of Asia. Not "Asian," of course, but "Oriental." I thought we had left that term behind in the 90's, but Trader Joe's has resurrected it successfully with these intriguing, snaxcellent morsels. Makes you wonder if TJ's will ever offer us a hot dog-ish meal or something entitled "Trader Joe's Occidental Meat Sticks."

The Rice Crackers are ultra-crispy. They taste like rice. Which, to me, is good. I like rice-based foods that taste like rice—because I enjoy the taste of rice. And yet, it's not just the taste of rice in these snacks. There's some kind of toastiness. And some kind of moderate spiciness in certain ones. And my favorites are the ones wrapped in seaweed. Yep. Some of these rice-snacks are wrapped in a bit of seaweed tasting very much like TJ's famous Seaweed Snacks. I'm not sure whether I like rice or seaweed better....hmmm....rice. No seaweed. No rice. I've just achieved the record for the greatest number of uses of the word "rice" in any What's Good at Trader Joe's paragraph ever. 10 times. Sonia, get Guinness on the phone!

Anyhoo, they're good—if you like rice and seaweed. Highly snackable, fun little shapes. They have a unique, yet somehow strangely predictable taste. I knew what they would taste like before I put them in my mouth. Which makes me think I've eaten something similar in the past. But my mind is shot these days...and I can't quite put my finger on what it was. Sorry.

Sonia says they remind her a bit of Corn Nuts. Maybe a little. That wasn't what I was thinking of. But I can see that.

Sonia gives them 3.5 stars. I'll give 'em 4.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trader Joe's Almond Croissants

I'll admit it: Sandy and I were bad on Sunday. B-a-d bad. Let's go in reverse here. We went to a Greek food festival for lunch, where after our gyros and stuffed grape leaves got settled in, both of us shared a plateful of baklava, halvadopites, and other assorted goodies. Awesome stuff. This was right after being at church, where for some unknown reason, someone brought in white chocolate cranberry scones and brownies which we both felt a little inclined to, err, "sample" and make sure they tasted good (oh, they did). That by itself is still kinda bad, all that pastry/baked goods tastiness, but when you include what we had for breakfast, well, it's a whole 'nother level.

Oh yeah, we had Trader Joe's Almond Croissants. One of my coworkers tipped me off about the croissants, and Sandy and I finally spotted them on the freezer aisle on Saturday. Let me tell you this right off the bat: a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Oh goodness. These might have been the best thing we ate all day, and that says a lot. Upon first bite, I was in love. The buttery, crispy outer shell gave way to soft, warm flaky, melt-in-your mouth innards that were so rich, sweet and almondy that it tasted almost creamy, if that makes any sense. It was almost like eating straight-up almond paste in croissant form, with toasted almonds on top adding a complementary crunch.

If I chose to, I could have a couple quibbles. The product's real name is "Trader Joe's 4 Almond Croissants," which is goofy enough for me to refuse to really acknowledge it. There's not four types of almonds in these croissants (are there even four types of almonds?), nor just four almonds per croissant, which is the name seems it would imply over just the quantity in the box. More so, this is the rare easy-to-make treat that requires some significant planning ahead, because they have to proof overnight (ours roughly quintupled in size) and then need about 25 minutes in the oven. Because of that, these aren't doable for our normal rush-out-the-door-to-work kinda morning, but that's okay. These nutty croissants are meant to enjoy leisurely with a cup of your favorite coffee, unless TJ's discontinues yours, like they did with mine. A couple batches of these would steal the show at pretty much any brunch, and while it'd be disingenuous, I'd dare you to try and pass them off as your own. As for the nutritional's a freakin' croissant, what do you expect?

"There's really not anything that these could do any better," Sandy said between bites. Oh, I agree. No complaints at all. I just wish I remembered we had some powdered sugar I could've sprinkled on top before serving them up, but that's what next time's for. Until then, we'll be dreaming of these pastry Pantheon-worthy perfections.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Almond Croissants: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Trader Joe's Sweet Tea

If you ever find yourself in Ocean Springs, MS, as I did in the spring of '06, do yourself a favor and stop by one of the best BBQ places in the land: The Shed. Seriously, that place is blues, an ambiance that lives "up" to its name, BBQ sauce so good I'm sure I bit a chunk out of one of my fingers but didn't even care, it was so delicious. Just a great place for some down-home cookin'. One of the other things I recall from my night there is, there being this blonde, perfectly stereotypical Daisy Duked Southern belle of a bombshell with an idyllic Southern drawl who came around with pitchers of icy cold refreshment. "Y'all want some sweet tea?," she'd practically purr in such a way with a smile that for one of the very few times in my life I could see exactly what Costanza was talking about with pastrami and women.* The only other times in memory were while taking in this bacon love ballad and, most notably, taking notice of the very cute, kinda shy, lovely brunette who not only brought an out of this world lemon lavender cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting to a church picnic, but also put up with enough of my awkward advances and clumsy persistence to end up marrying me, the big ol' lug that I am. Love ya babe.

Anyways, I'm not even sure if that memory is entirely accurate (seriously, it was an out-of-body experience that night), but it's the way I remember The Shed, so let's say it is. It's kinda the same thing with the sweet tea there, too...I don't necessarily remember if it was good or not, but it seemed good, and since that was my first real trip to the American South and so my frst taste of the nectar that is sweet tea, well, I'll go with that was some darn good sweet tea there, too. In fact, I'll say it's the best, at least compared to a lot of the rest. Arizona Sweet Tea? McDonald's? The local dairy variety? Not necessarily bad, but not what I'm looking for, either.

Trader Joe's Sweet Tea is, though. In a positive way. There's a lot to like about it. First, and this is always a plus, look at ingredient numero dos: real cane sugar. That's what sets Mexican Coke and other sodas apart from their corn-syrupy compadres. Same with sweet tea. Other key selling points include the strong black tea flavor that carries all the way through, with the sugar offering a fair amount of sweetness without going way overboard like I've had with other brands. It's cold, refreshing, and it hits the spot when the temps soar up and doesn't leave me thirsting for more. It's been a while since I've had Chick-Fila Sweet Tea, so I can't do an exact comparison, but their sweet tea is pretty fantastic, and to my recollection I'd say TJ's is just about on par.

Both Sandy and I have been attempting to be good and trying to gulp about the same amount of our TJ sweet tea. Usually, I'll end drinking most of the bottle of whatever super-drinkable delight we pick up, with the notable exception of our latest purchase of the Orange Peach Mango, which she uncharacteristically hogged all to herself. Turnaround's fair play. Anyways, it took only a few days for our gallon to disappear, and I'm already thirsting for more. Sandy frowned a little when I gave her the last sip, so she's sad to see it go, too. It gets a four from her. For me, it's neck and neck with some of the best tea TJ's offers, as it's certainly not remotely close to being the awful swill that is the worst.** Let's say 4.5 from me.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Sweet Tea: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons
* Obviously, that's an exaggeration. That's just a you say...over the top, maybe?
** What's not an exaggeration is how awful that "tea" is. Nathan and Sonia must have been in a very generous mood when they reviewed it. It was a sample one day, both Sandy and I drank it, and nearly spewed it right out. Seriously, I'd practically rather go all Kevin Costner in "Waterworld" before I'd even think of buying that particular tea.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Trader Jacque's Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce and Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice Cream

I've been kinda waffling for the last little bit here, trying to decide if I should include the picture over to the right there. Between my complete and utter lack of any photographic talent whatsoever, and the fact that Sandy I own the world's worst ice cream scoop, and how inartfully I drizzle my ice cream toppings, and how I wanted to rave about my favorite summertime dessert ever just for it to turn out so...unPinteresty-looking, I kinda hate the picture. Perhaps it's just more evidence that I should let the wife make and photograph dessert more often. Since my photo leaves no great way to even guess what it is, it's grilled pineapple rings with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce - so easy I can make it, so tasty I highly recommend you all go make it right now. Your boss will understand, as long as you share.

We'll skip over the pineapple part here, mostly cuz we didn't get it at TJ's...I prefer fresh, wife prefers canned, TJ's was out, and it wasn't worth putting up an argument about (as my dad says, you can be happy or you can be right). As for what we did buy at TJ's..

First up, Trader Jacque's Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce. Fleur de sel apparently literally translates as "flower of salt" which is some hoity-toity hand harvested sea salt from France. I read a Wikipedia article about it, and it really didn't shine any more light on the matter than that, so while this might be the Cadillac of sea salts, I wouldn't know any different. What I can tell you is, it makes one heckuva good caramel sauce. It's goopy and thick and rich and definitely full-flavored, while the sea salt just amps up the caramel flavor even more. I'm tempted to eat it by the spoonful, and in fact, I just might while the wifey isn't looking. I won't go out on much of a limb and say this is the some of (if not "the") best caramel sauce commercially available. Regular caramel sauce doesn't completely cut it (that squeeze bottle junk? Please.), and while there's always a place for dulce de leche, I just might have me a new favorite. Fantastic stuff, hands down.

Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice Cream might be even better. I've always kinda regarded vanilla as a boring kind of flavor. I mean, it's just vanilla, right? For this ice cream, that's wrong. This is something tastier and fancier, like, I don't know, ~*VANILLA*~ or something. Except in a modest way, cuz vanilla still isn't all that flashy. Yet, I seriously do not know what it is, but like other Trader Joe's ice cream sent from above, we could nom all night on it just by itself, and it was even better for our pineapple/caramel dessert. It's just honest-to-good rich, creamy ice cream that for whatever reason struck my taste buds as being especially tasty and somehow more vibrant than any other vanilla ice cream that comes to mind. So good.

Sandy wasn't quite as enthusiastic going into dessert time as I was about this particular treat. She said some of it had to do with her having the caramel sauce before, and apparently it was a little too salty then for her taste. It wasn't this time around, she said, although the best she could muster up for the Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce was just a lowly, stinkin', miserly three. You better believe I'm upping that for my score. For our second French inspiration, Sandy (as usual) was much more enthusiastic about the ice cream, going with a four. I'm going a smidge higher than that. Regardless of final scores, this was one darn good summery dessert that certainly tastes a lot better than how my feeble attempt to assemble and photograph it looks.

Bottom lines: Trader Jacque's Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons
Trader Joe's French Vanilla Ice Cream: 8.5 of 10 Golden Spoons

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Trader Joe's Honey Glazed Miso Salmon on Salad Greens

I'm beginning to grow skeptical of Trader Joe's salmon products. The best score we have so far on a TJ's salmon dish was a measly 6.5 stars out of 10. But our biggest complaint about the Mojito Salmon wasn't the salmon itself.

The Sockeye Salmon, however, was a different story. In this case, the salmon completely ruined a halfway decent bag of pasta and vegetables. With a few notable exceptions, we had a lot of comments and emails supporting our findings and opinions about that particular product. The salmon in that bag was just nasty.

Yet, brave adventurers that we are, the foodie-hack bloggers of WG@TJ's plow forth—with our tongue-in-cheek statements of self-aggrandizement held high, ingesting even the most risky of TJ's dishes, hoping that we, for the vicarious benefit of our readers, will discover something unique and tasty and worthy of our hard-earned dollars.

This dish, unfortunately, does not fall into that category.

I must admit that there is generally a huge range of differing experiences when it comes to Trader Joe's already-prepared, refrigerated meals, since the freshness factor can vary a bit, and the amount and quality of each ingredient used can also vary. But again, as in the case of the Sockeye Salmon, we have a meal with great veggies and pasta that is spoiled by a batch of highly-fishy salmon. The dressing was good, the lettuce was fresh, the lo mein was tasty, if maybe a bit too soggy. No major complaints, except for the salmon.

But unfortunately, the salmon is the centerpiece of the meal—or so one would think by looking at the label. I suppose in this case it was a saving grace that there wasn't very much salmon in the salad. What little salmon there was tasted like dirty socks—and yes, I know what dirty socks taste like...long story, don't wanna get into that now #childhoodtraumas.

I'm just going to go ahead and tell you to try it if you're desperate for a lo mein-topped salad with Asian-ish dressing. But be prepared to scoop out the salmon and serve it to a starving stray cat, who very well may pass on the offer.

2.5 out of 5 stars from me. The same from Sonia.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Beef

Given the virtual cornucopia of fake meat products we've reviewed, up to and including the challengingly named Beefless Ground Beef, it's only fair if we review some real actual meat every once in a while, lest you start believin' we're some sort of rogue vegetarians trying to clobber you into our way of living or something. That's not how we roll.

Truth be told, Sandy and I don't eat a lot of meat, particularly, and when we do it's usually chicken or fish, and not red meat so much. It was a pretty rare treat (more so for me) when I picked up a pack of steaks to grill up the other week in a last ditch effort to get her iron up before our kid makes his/her grand debut literally any day now. Other than that, other than the occasional dinner at a place like Burgatory or the sporadic cook out burger, beef just isn't one of our usual purchases for whatever reason.

So anyways, for the reason mentioned above, last trip we picked up Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Beef to slap on the grill for some burger lovin'. There's plenty of grass-fed vs. corn/grain-fed debates you can read elsewhere on the Interwebs, so I'm not really going to be delving into those here. Instead, as usual, I'll be focusing on taste. Tell ya what: it makes a darn good burger. I molded four good sized patties out of the one pound hunk we bought for $5.99. Sandy needs her burgers well done (or at least not one speck of pink in them), while I tend towards more of a medium, juicy burger. This beef gave us the best of both worlds. Our burgers, while cooked them all the way through and even a little charred on the outside, were still juicely dripping with every bite. And they tasted like good, solid, honest beef, too, with a nice beefy texture. In all, it worked well with the garlic salt and pepper I mixed in, and tasted great alongside the grilled green beans (slathered with chipotle olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt) for a classic summer time dinner. Good stuff.

There's one thing kinda nagging me about it, although it isn't necessarily fair. Trader Joe's by in large does well by me, but I've gotten enough produce that spoils way too quickly from them to fully trust it (hence going to local farmer's markets for that) and more times than not, the milk we buy from them goes bad well before the date on it (hence us always getting our milk at Target). We haven't had that issue with meat from TJ's as much but....see the top right corner of the package? "KEEP FROZEN," it says. That suggests to me that perhaps this isn't the freshest of meats if you have to buy it frozen and keep it frozen. I'm pretty sure that's one of the TJ's keeps their prices low - buy food that's close to it's expiration date and sell it for a discounted cost. For the beef, that's not as much of a hang-up for us, but I know that can be for some out there. That does, though, put folks like my wife and I in a bind where we have to cook the whole thing at once even though it's way too big for one meal. We now have two burgers in the freezer waiting to be reheated. That may be handy within a couple weeks. I'm just glad that there's official word from TJ's about their complete lack of pink slime offerings, thus to me making it worth ponying up a lil' extra for some at least semi-reputable meat.

Anyways, I liked our beef-full beef. Sandy did, too. I won't be able to quote her directly, but she said something along the lines of "Oooh man it was good, it was just what a pregnant woman needed, a big ol' chunk of CARNE to bite into that was all juice-going-everywhere-and-down-my-arms and delicious and stuff." Umm, okay. She went ahead and gave "about a four," noting that while way above fast food standard, she's not enough of a beef connoisseur to tell this TJ in-carne-ation apart from the truly great stuff. I don't know, it's pretty decent, and I'd say it's in similar quality to the beef we had in our tacos at my brother and sister in law's tonight. They get their beef from some free range hippie cow-huggin' happy farm kinda place, I think. Something around a four works for me, too.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Grass Fed Angus Beef: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 11, 2012

Trader Joe's Bistro Biscuits

I'm generally not big on hard, dry cookies...or "biscuits" if you must—but these crisp caramelized treats are one of a handful of exceptions to that rule. My initial impulse was to compare these cookies with Barnum's Animals crackers, which everyone knows are the creme dela creme of the animal cracker kingdom, far superior to even those with nifty pink frosting that come in giant bags. These biscuits reflect the quality and good taste of the Barnum's Animals, but possess a slightly more complex flavor. There's an essence of gingerbread present—and the word "caramelized," used on the packaging, has a certain propriety in this case, so long as you're not thinking of caramelized onions as I unfortunately do whenever I hear the word "caramelized."

After trying several of these dessert-ish biscuits, I was overcome with a shameful impulse... I wanted to put Speculoos Cookie Butter on them. And I did. For those of you with a severe simple sugar deficiency, that combo may well just be the cure that you're looking for. It's intensely sweet and gingery, and it'll send your system into sugar shock in the blink of an eye, and will cause a four-alarm fire in your mouth that only a good glass of milk can put out. Hours later, independently of me, after just a bite or two, Sonia was struck with the same impulse to slather her biscuits with cookie butter. Like me, she quickly satisfied both her contemptible culinary craving and her recommended weekly allowance of sugar in one fell swoop.

Flavor-wise they're winners, but again, their dryness begs for milk or coffee or tea. Did you ever, just sheerly out of curiosity, try a dog biscuit in your youth? I know I did. And it was never the taste that revolted me, it was always the texture—the dryness. It's like that with these Bistro Biscuits, except that they're way better than most dog biscuits. Both texture and flavor. Way better. I guess the dog biscuits are a really bad comparison to make. Nevermind that then. Please disregard this paragraph.

Sonia liked them a lot. With or without cookie butter. She gives them a 4. They remind her of actual British biscuits. She's had the real thing. I'll give them a 3. They're tasty little buggers, but again, I don't think they're particularly great as a stand-alone food. Check them out if you're into the whole "dunking" thing. And definitely try them with cookie butter, but have extra insulin standing by.

P.S. - These biscuits are vegan.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Trader Joe's Maine Whole Cherrystone Clams

There's an old adage for us scribes that's been passed down over the generations: Write what you know. That was drilled into my head while getting a journalism degree at Penn State, and it obviously makes a great deal of sense. If you don't know anything about the subject matter you're writing about, it shows as blatantly as a glass of wine spilled on a white sofa. As proof, you should see the articles I wrote covering collegiate rugby for Penn State's Daily Collegian.

Or you can just continue reading this review about Trader Joe's Maine Whole Cherrystone Clams. I'm not sure how many times I've had clams in my life, but it's probably in the single digits, and almost assuredly every other time they've been deep-fried. Plus, my history with canned seafood is more or less restricted to tuna fish, which I'll admit, I absolutely hate. The smell kinda grosses me out, and when growing up whenever my mom opened a can our kitty cat would run up begging for a bite, only to barf it up two minutes later. I'm sure there's a lot worse things to put in a can (oh yeah there is - viewer discretion advised) but it's not how I'd choose to get my seafood. The way I figure it, though, is if Trader Joe's can reasonably impress (or at least not totally gross out) a canned clam rookie, that must mean they're reasonably good. Alternatively, of course, they could be absolutely terrible, but if I don't know any better, then I'm completely off-base. Readers, you're going to have to be the judge here.

On to the clams. Hmm. So that's what a whole unbreaded/unfried clam looks like when the shell gets shucked. Umm...interesting. Gulp. At least it's kinda hard to make out where the face is, so I feel less guilty. To me, the clams kinda taste how they smell, which I mean as a compliment. I grew up going to Maine and visiting the coast there, so the gritty, salty, briny, mineral-ly, rocky aroma that permeates each bite is actually fairly pleasant in its own way. Yeah, they kinda taste like Maine, and I freakin' love that state. To keep with my theme of ignorance, I'm going to assume that the "cherrystone" part of the name refers to the dark center of gutsy matter that's in the clam's main body, because in no other way to me do these remind me of either a cherry or a stone. As I kinda suspected they would be, the clams are a little chewier than I'd like, but then again, it's a whole skeletonless animal.

Sandy and I had these with dinner with a box of lemon pepper clam linguini we unearthed a little while back while tearing apart and putting our kitchen back together. I think at first I pushed to make it with shrimp instead, but since the pasta box said "clam", Sandy insisted we couldn't. It had to be clams, thus forcing our purchase ($1.99 a can). In a way, that turned out to be a good thing, as we've found out we need to be a little more intentional about iron in her diet in the last couple days/weeks/however long before our lil' baby decides to make his/her appearance (due in just a few weeks! We're getting our hospital bag packed!). Anyways, both Sandy and I feel about the same about them - decent enough, but no strong feelings one way or the other, mostly because we don't know any better. We'll be fair and give it a solid "not bad."

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Maine Whole Cherrystone Clams: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trader Joe's Popcorn with Herbs and Spices

The popcorn in this bag looks like it fell on the floor—all covered in little flecks of dark matter and hair-like strands of oregano and other herbstuffs. It also tastes like it fell on the floor—that is, if your floor happens to be covered in delicious salt, spices and tasty flavorful plant matter.

It's pretty much your standard popcorn fare, with a nice little kick. Similar to other TJ's popcorn products or products like Smartfood, it tastes and feels "lite." Not lacking in flavor, just easy on the heavy, buttery, oiliness that bogs down some major national brands and movie theater popcorns. It tastes lightly salted, and it stays crunchy enough, even though it's pre-popped and sitting in a bag for who knows how long...

But of course, it's the herb and spice flavor that sets this popcorn apart from anything you might have had in the past. There's a perfect amount of spice, in my opinion. It's not enough that it should scare anyone away from trying it, except those who are ultra-sensitive to spiciness. It's really not a hot spiciness, it's a flavorful spiciness. But by that same token, if you're looking for a 5-alarm fire, you're going to need to pick up some hot sauce to bring it up to that level. It tastes like pepper, oregano, basil, dill, and maybe a hint of onion. Looking at the bag right now, there is apparently no oregano in it, but both Sonia and I felt like there was some present.

Sonia thinks it's delicious. She says she could eat a whole bag by herself. Considering the aforementioned "liteness," eating an entire bag in one sitting would be entirely plausible. I think I could knock off a bag by myself, too. This stuff is a welcome, spicy twist on a classic salty treat.

Sonia gives it 4 stars. I'll go with a 3.5. Snackariffic.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Trader Joe's ¡Mango! ¡Mango!

Seeing as that Trader Joe's, despite their otherwise healthy-ish vibes, is basically a store jam-packed of all sorts of impulse buys just begging to happen, Sandy and I have made ourselves a pretty simple rule for shopping there. We're each allowed to pick out one snack or treat for ourselves (ideally, we'll share), and if we both behave and keep pretty close to our budget, at the checkout we'll pick out one snacky kinda thing to share for the ride home. I'm sure it sounds kinda silly to motivate ourselves to "be good" in a manner not unlike you'd motivate your toddler, but you know what? It works! Like a charm! I mean, we tend to go there for just our snacks and lunch stuff and the odd ingredient for a dinner (opting to hit up farmer markets for our produce, most of our meat, etc) so it'd be easy for us to get carried away, especially when walking down the ice cream and candy aisle, or as I call it, Temptation Lane. No matter. The stands by the checkouts have tended to have some pretty great finds, from a recent favorite of ours, a dark chocolate speculoos filled bar, which rivals only the caramel/black sea salt bar as the best chocolate slab God has ever bestowed upon humanity, to things like candied squishy penguins. We've almost always been happy with what we find there.

We've kept hearing how good TJ's ¡Mango! ¡Mango! fruit gummies are, and so finally recently relished the chance to give them a try at last. As you might be able to guess by the blue denim covering my wife's knee area that served as this week's photo backdrop, we didn't wait long after loading up the Tucson to bust them out. We love our gummies, and greatly enjoy almost anything Trader Joe's and mango related (like our favorite granola), so, man, we were eager.

And to be honest, the mango^2 chewy guys were a bit of a disappointment to us. That's not to say they were completely bad. First off, each gummy wasn't, in fact, all that gummy. Instead they were tougher, much chewier, and very firm, despite the packaging claiming that they were going to be soft. That's not necessarily horrible, but I think that the texture kind of added to the general lack of flavor. I don't need a cavity cavalry's worth of sugar to make something taste good, but mango can be (and in this case, is) a relatively subtle flavor, and so having to put a few good, hearty chomps before any flavor starts leaking out is not optimal. It wasn't just that, but in our bag of about 40 candies, only seven had any yogurt parts on them, and maybe that many had passion fruit on them too. That's just not enough, even though the ones that did were only marginally better.

Overall, both Sandy and I just weren't all that impressed, especially after our pretty good experience with those penguin-themed Gummy Tummies. I think Sandy was kinda hoping the ¡Mango! ¡Mango!s would be a bit more like them, as she said she wished these were softer and had a liquidy part to them to add a little more flavor. I agree, although I would have settled for a wee bit more mango-tinged goodness. They weren't bad overall, but we'll be looking for another treat next time at the checkout before we reach for 'em again. If you're a fan, that just means more for you. From here, though, we're gonna split things right down the middle.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's ¡Mango! ¡Mango!: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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