Up until the age of 5 or so, I lived less than a block from famous Cocoa Avenue in Hershey, PA, walking distance from Hersheypark. The whole town smelled like cocoa, mostly from a cocoa bean mulch that everybody used in their gardens, but also because of the nearby chocolate factory. Being married to a Latina, I've tried all kinds of things slathered with chile powder or cayenne pepper that I probably wouldn't have otherwise—corn on the cob, mango, pineapple, papaya, hard candy, you name it—just about everything but pecans. So this product should be right up my alley, right? Leave it to Trader José to introduce...whoops! Didn't mean to offend anybody! Leave it to Trader Joe to introduce me to Cocoa Chile Pecans.
These pecans aren't as sticky sweet as I thought they might be. They are "candied" as noted on the bag, but not overly so. I think if they had been much sweeter, the chile wouldn't have shined through quite as much. The cocoa flavor is similar to a rich, earthy dark chocolate. It's not nearly as candy-esque as a typical chocolate coated nut.
There's a little bit of a cough factor. That is, there's enough cocoa powder, chile powder, and powdered sugar that if I inhale at exactly the wrong moment—probably somewhere between the nut entering my mouth and getting it chomped down a good bit by my teeth—I have to hack a minimal amount of said powders out of my lungs. The cayenne pepper is particularly troubling to my respiratory system. Spice in the lungs is no joke, but I must admit, there's something invigorating about chile pepper in the old alveoli. That would make a great band name. "We are The Spicy Alveoli and we're here to rock!"
$4.49 isn't super cheap for a product like this, but I can't say it isn't worth the price tag, either. As long as you aren't hoping for something sticky sweet and don't mind the spice, these are worth a purchase if you ask us. Three and a half stars from yours truly. Cuatro estrellas de mi Sonita.
Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.