You know, when it comes to it....I really have no idea how to start here, except to say I've never been so gobsmacked out of left field before for any sort of TJ's product before.
Vegan pork rinds?
What the what?
This pretty much sums it up when it comes to me hearing about Trader Joe's Spicy Porkless Plant-Based Snack Rinds for the first time.
I mean, you know what a pork rind is, right? It's deep fried pork skin, render off a bunch of fat, add a bunch of spices, get a big ol' cracklin' piece that's crunchier than stale granola. It's pretty much as unvegan as you can get. Speaking from a fairly carnivorous standpoint, there's some parts of animals not high on my list, and that's absolutely one of them.
So, instead of that, make some sort of rind-esque shape from rice meal and pea powder and bake them, so basically make them not so pork rind-y at all, except allude back to them in packaging and marketing by calling them rinds and inventing the new word "porkless." That's not fun to neither say nor type.
Needless to say, if you're expecting a pork rind, this new TJ's snackers ain't it. There's too much amiss. First off, the crunch? It's not there. Crispy? Sure. Hard and crunchy? Not even close. It's a pretty soft bite all things considered. Maybe leave the bag open for a day or two to stale 'em up a touch if that's what you're looking for. More importantly, though, is the aftertaste. After the burn of the spice (more on that shortly) burns off, whereas a some nice fatty savory sensation from an actual pork rind would kick in to really bring the whole experience home...there's just this earthy meh-ness. i mean, I know you can expect much from rice and peas (not a knock, just saying) but they are absolutely a different flavor and taste base than any meat product, which cannot be replicated.
Really, I think instead of trying to emulate and going toe-to-toe (err, hoof-to-hoof?) with pork rinds, which as far as I know aren't exactly cornerstones of the 'murican snackfood pyramid anyways, call these guys something more like "rice and pea snacks" or something catchier. Okay, maybe I see why they went with rinds after all...but you don't have to compare yourself to others to stand out. Just be yourself.
Failed to get a respectable pic of the ingredients and nutritional info, so here ya go. Thanks Big Joe.
I'll eat them, may even buy again. I will admit on second tasting while writing this they grew on me a little, but I'm not the biggest fan yet. Meh, and same for my lovely bride who mehs them as well. We'll be nice, give them kudos for the spiciness, and go with threes.
Bottom line: Trader Joe's Spicy Porkless Plant Based Snack Rinds: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons