Listen, I know I may be getting a tad bit older, with my taste buds not quite capable of handling some things as easily as they have in the days in my youth, but after just two, maybe two and a half bites of the new Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Spicy Mochi Nuggets, I knew I was in for it.
As the immortally brilliant and always applicable Ralph Wiggum once said, it tastes like burning.
The premise here is simple enough, particularly if you're familiar with the original iteration of the TJ mochi rice nuggets. What a great snack that is. if you're not familiar with those, man, go give 'em a try, they're worth every penny.
Anyways, take a perfectly snackable, meg-munchable sack of rice nuggz and coat liberally with a spice mix that's truly pretty darn spicy. And legitimately spicy, not in some sort of pseudo vinegar kinda way. Just take a look at the ingredients: Black and white pepper, chipotle, habanero, red chili. Off to a hot start, especially with habanero. I mean...that's hot.
But it's not just heat for the sake of heat, and there's a lot of flavor that comes in from all sorts of different angles, like spicy flavor ninjas. Like citrus peel that helps add a little acidic bite. Some paprika and cumin to help run the ground game. Even cinnamon and ginger that tack on their spicy advances. I have no idea what dried sea lettuce is doing here, nor what sea lettuce is...is that another term for seaweed? If one element of all the heat doesn't really get to you, another will. And trust me when I say this, as I failed to get a good product shot, but there's a lot caked on, not enough to make a dusty mess, but it's impossible to avoid.
One big demerit: despite being rice based, these mochi are not considered gluten free, presumably because of possible cross-contamination with soy and wheat. Bummer, but at least there's no mackerel like the first edition.
These mochi are a great snack, as long as you have moderate-to-high spice tolerance. Years ago, I'd scoff at anything calling itself spicy like this, and to this day remain skeptical of many such a claim. Those initial few bites proved I underestimated the mochi. I'll consider myself a fan, as will my lovely bride. Delish. Double fours and a little bit more.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Crunchy Spicy Mochi Rice Nuggets: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons