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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Trader Joe's Garlic and Onion Pistachios

In the entertainment industry, when an actor has something to do in a scene other than just walking or talking, it's called "business." It usually has nothing to do with the plot, but it might have to do with the development of the character. It might not even be in the script—something simply improvised on the spot.

"Give the lead actor some business. He looks awkward just standing there," a director might say.

Examples include: swishing the ice around in a cocktail glass and taking a drink, smoking, rolling dice or a stress ball around in his hand, or...yep, you guessed it: shelling and eating pistachios. That's a great example of "business." I used to hate eating unshelled pistachios because of the extra work. But now, I feel like it gives me something cool to do. It's good "business." If I ever re-enter the world of independent filmmaking, I'll insist there's a character that has a bag of unshelled pistachios with him all the time.

There's something very visceral about the sound of shelling a nut, the crunching of said nut between teeth, and the dropping of the shell into a bowl or other container full of other pistachio shells. I find it a pleasant accompaniment to whatever brooding nonsense I'm sputtering on about these days. It's somehow less vulgar than spitting sunflower seed shells and more refined than peeling peanuts. I suppose eating walnuts with a steel cracker would be just as cool, but I simply like the taste of pistachios more than walnuts.

Sonia grew up noshing on pistachios from a glass bowl on the coffee table of a celebrity couple her mom kept house for in the 80's and 90's. Her family seldom had pistachios on hand at home, so having access to such an expensive snack was always a treat for her. In short, we both like unshelled pistachios.

Upon first taste of these garlic and onion dealies, I was slightly dismayed that the garlic and onion flavors weren't significantly stronger. Oddly, Sonia was struck with the opposite notion. She thought the garlic and onion taste was bordering on too strong. She's a fan of garlic and onion flavors just as much as I am, so I found her take on the product surprising.

As we plowed through nut after nut, I did find that the garlic and onion flavors built up on my tongue, but I still wouldn't have minded them a little more on the pungent side. Pistachio is still very much the dominant flavor here, rather than garlic or onion. 

A number of the nuts stuck to their shells and refused to be separated from them. They'd split in half, but each section of nut was still fused to the outer shell. This happened in a minority of cases, but it was still enough to be mildly off-putting and frustrating.

Despite their perceived lack of potent garlic flavor, they were still addicting. We didn't finish the bag in one sitting or anything like that, but I'm pretty sure we each had our 1/4 cup standard serving size each and then some. I don't think this bag will be sitting around our place for more than a few days or so. 

All things considered, it's a good quality snack for about $7. I don't know if we'll buy them again any time soon, but I'd probably reach for these before I'd buy a bag of plain pistachios. A subtle garlic and onion flavor is better than no garlic and onion flavor IMO. Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.


  1. Much more of the flavor is ON the shells, which is a bit odd and you'd probably only notice if you decide to risk trying to crack one with your teeth.


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