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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix


Ask my lovely bride a simple yes or no question, and chances are you won't get a simple answer. 

For the sake of our marriage, going on nearly twelve years now, I won't get into too many specific examples of this. But it kinda drives me crazy, even though I should be used to by it now. I mean, we've been together for long enough, and I've never gotten a yes/no answer...but anyways...

Most recent/relevant example: when i was trying to bake the Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix for a dessert the other night. the instructions called to bake it in an 8x8 baking pan. I couldn't find it. I asked her if she's seen one around or if we had one. "Well that's the one you exploded that one time because of whatever you did in the oven and remember all that broken glass..."

Thanks for the fond memories. Did we have another one, maybe a spare or we rebought one? Can't remember everything. But apparently the answer was no. I baked it in a 9x7x2 instead. Can you guess what you're getting for Christmas, my love?

Good times. 

Anyways, on to brownies. 

Wait, I mean chocolate mochi cake. Which really is a lot like brownies when it comes down to it.

I mean, sure. It's rice flour, gluten free, a little chewy and bouncy. Emphasis on a little. That's all fine and well, but when translated via a chocolate flavor, my 'merican mouth can't shake the sense that it's essentially a brownie. Can a brownie by any other name taste as good? The answer to this yes/no question: Yes, of course. It's a nice chocolatey flavor for the cake, decidedly more towards sweeter milk chocolate than dark, but that's fine. It's chocolate. 

I may have muffed the frosting mix atop. It's kinda the reason I'm not showing you a pic of my creation. The instructions said to get an electric mixer and cream a stick of butter with the PB powder in the box. That sounded like too much work and dishes, so I instead slightly softened a stick via microwave and mixed the powder in by hand before putting in the fridge to reset. The cake was also kinda warm when I put it on, so yeah...not a visually appealing creation, but that's on me, not TJ's. Tasted fine, and while not really PB by any stretch, it wasn't some overly sweet annoying imitation concoction either, and it worked well with the cake because it's chocolate and peanut butter. 

We all liked it, and if you asked us if we'd buy again, I'd say sure, the kids would give an emphatic "Yes!" and Sandy would eventually give an answer that translated to a yes...I think. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Mochi Cake Mix with Peanut Butter Frosting Mix: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, August 27, 2021

Trader Joe's Organic Peach Fruit Spread

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

That's what they say, anyway. I always assume that's what's going on when someone does something I'm doing. As a school kid, back when I had a full head of blond hair, I got a spike. A week later, half my class showed up at homeroom with pointy Bart Simpson haircuts and tubes of hair gel in hand. What a trendsetter I am, I thought to myself.

Or a slightly more recent example: one day I brought a Trader Joe's brand beverage to work. And two days later, some co-workers followed suit and brought TJ's drinks along, too. Same thing happened with cookies, sauces, pastries... Cheers, friends. Great minds think alike.

I mean, they might have been making fun of me in some underhanded, passive-aggressive way. But I had no reason to think that, nor would I have cared even if it were the case. I'll always just assume the best, refer to the first line of this post, and carry on with business as usual.

But what about when somebody imitates themself? I mean, isn't that what we have here? Trader Joe's already offered us a pretty stellar fruit spread made with real peaches. If it ain't broke, then why try to fix it?

Could be a 3rd party supplier issue. Could be people were scared off by the "Bellini" part of the product. I mean, it did contain real white wine, but not even enough to make mention of an alcohol content. Whatever the reason, I say, if you're going to imitate yourself, keep the product at least as good as it was and hopefully make a few improvements.

Organic peaches. Organic cane sugar. I guess those are upgrades. No Prosecco. Whether that's an improvement or not depends upon your perspective, I suppose.

One thing some people might like that I wasn't particularly thrilled with: bigger peach chunks. The peaches in the previous iteration were pureed. There are big wads of pure peach here that simply don't want to spread onto toast smoothly. Again, some people might not mind that. I guess it works for pie filling or smoothie ingredients.

Flavor-wise, the two products are very similar. You could taste the white wine before, which I liked. This flavor is more purely peach. Neither product was overly sweet, but this one might even be a smidge less sugary. I'd probably settle on the same score for both if it weren't for those large, slightly stringy peach masses scattered throughout this jar. I'll go half a star lower. Sonia will keep her score the same, stating that she likes it just as much and at $2.49 for the jar, it's significantly less expensive.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee

Coffee demands honesty, so let's just get right to it:

Is there any truthful way I can persuade you that Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee is, somehow, miraculously, an an actual legitimately good coffee option that'd make you want to either skip the drive thru, walk by the neighborhood shop or stash away your Mason jars and clear that shelf in your fridge?


It's not great coffee, by any stretch. To complicate things, it's not like there's an actual, tried and true recipe for success here. It's: grab a spoon, throw a scoopful-ish into 12oz of cold water, stir, sip. Too weak? Add more coffee. Too strong? Add more water. Sip. Repeat as necessary. I mean, sure, that's a way to do things, but when I'm tired and in a rush that necessitates resorting to instant friggerin' coffee, I have neither the time no the mental facilities to go full out Bill Nye and experiment my way into something resembling a passable cuppa joe. And pardon me for assuming, but that's likely a statement we'd share. Reliable, decent coffee is what we want and demand, and while there's probably a way to figure out how to make one with this particular cannister of powder, is it really worth the effort? 

I will give it this, though. I am somewhat of a cold brew snob. Why add to these hot, humid summer by swallowing down a steaming cup of coffee? Ugh. Many cold brews I have tasted, whether from a shop, a chain, or a prepackaged type deal, have had this unnecessarily bittersweet bite. Some even taste like tin. Yuck. The TJ's instant cold brew possesses none of that. It's just plain ol' boring coffee, kinda earthy and flat. But not flat earthy cuz that's just weird.  It lacks much of any description and is neither bold nor weak, neither sweet nor overly bitter, neither here nor there. I mean, it's not like that great cup of nitro cold brew from the neighborhood coffee shop, but it's not dirt and water either. It's just coffee, admittedly closer to Sanka than Starbucks, but still. Doctoring it up with cream and sweeteners may help if you're into that kinda thing. I'm not, so your mileage may vary. 

I'll keep it stashed away at my work desk, because if there's a true affront to coffee here, it's the work pot. Yikes. Need a change up every once in a while and this, not entirely unfortunately, will have to do. My lovely bride isn't going to bother with it and I don't blame her. I'll be nice and not completely trash the coffee - I mean, it is instant coffee, it's not like those Arabica beans chose this destiny for themselves, I'm not gonna hate on their existence, and at the end they still give me caffeine. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Instant Cold Brew Coffee: 4 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, August 23, 2021

Trader Joe's Sparkling Lemonade

Few things are as refreshing as lemonade on a hot summer day, especially after a strenuous activity like mowing the lawn. You wipe the sweat off your brow, walk into the air conditioning, and fire up the kettle to boil a nice piping hot cup of lemonade, or in this case, sparkling lemonade.

Oh, but wait... This particular product is subtly recommending that you consume it cold. Isn't that odd? The box plainly reads "Best Enjoyed CHILLED." Remove one of the slim cans from outer packaging and it too reads "Best Enjoyed CHILLED." Glance at the spiel on the reverse side of the can, and there's another line reminding consumers to "Keep it cold..." Even the website says "We recommend serving Trader Joe's Sparkling Lemonade ice cold..."

Does this stuff spontaneously combust if you heat it up like a normal mug of summer time lemonade? If consumed at room temperature, will it cause internal hemorrhaging or something like that?

Alright, alright. Fine, I'll take the advice of the experts and put these in the fridge for a while. Maybe I'll even throw in an ice cube or two. It's apparently vitally important that this product remain absolutely frigid.

And you know what, it's not bad that way. It's almost as if I've been drinking lemonade wrong all these years. Cold lemonade. You heard it here first, folks. Way better than hot lemonade, even with marshmallows on top.

Okay, I'll tone down the sarcasm for the rest of this post. Promise. With only three ingredients, it's not hard to imagine what this product tastes like. There's carbonated water, sugar, and concentrated lemon juice. It errs on the side of "not too sweet" at least compared to most other lemonade beverages I've tried.

It's mildly tart and lemony, as you'd expect. It tastes very natural. The carbonation is a nice touch. I wouldn't have minded it with a tad more of the sweet and tart elements. The flavor's not particularly intense. It's more in the direction of "light and refreshing," which isn't a bad thing at all.

I think it was $3.99 for four cans. Might be a repeat purchase. Four stars from Sonia. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich

Age old question time: which came first, the chicken or the egg?

In the case of Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich, the answer is pretty clear to me: the chicken.


Years ago, remember when KFC made waves with their sandwich using two slabs of fried chicken as the bun? If memory serves correctly, Taco Bell followed soon after with a fried chicken taco shell. While perhaps not the first ever entities to do so, I feel as though that's when the idea of using protein in place of carbs for sandwiches got introduced to the general public consciousness. That's straight spitballing with no research behind it whatsoever,so if I'm wrong I'm wrong, but I'm sticking to it...for now. 

Anyhoos, the TJ's eggwich. Love me a good breakfast sandwich, and while tough to screw up, they unfortunately can be. Just ask the new cafe by my workplace. Ugh. 

What struck me yet again about this kind of sandwich is how normal it all tasted. Like, the lack of carbs was scarcely noted. Certainly, a good bagel or croissant or whatever can add to the overall appeal of a sandwich, but when not there and everything else is good enough as is, their lack of presence really isn't a huge deal. 

That'd be the case here. First off, the eggs. Certainly, they're not as good as fresh-cracked ones, but for a frozen egg entity it'll do just fine. The egg pucks are a bit firm, to be sure, but not rubbery or chewy or anything, and not too un-egg-like to elicit much response. 

The turkey sausage and cheese are pretty standard issue, without much to note. If you want to add a little salsa or hot sauce to liven it up, by all means, go for it. As is, there's a nice little white pepper/black pepper to give the whole sandwich a little savory flair. It's all not all that greasy at all. 

I like 'em, as does my lovely bride. Apparently Costco sells a version of something similar to this which we neglected to price-check, so I'm not 100% sure of how great a deal that two of them for $3.99 is, but I know that's about what one breakfast sandwich costs most anywhere these days unless you're going off a drive thru value menu. So there's that. These sandwiches are very likely rebuy to help tide over on the busy mornings as school winds its way back up and I'm back in the office for my daytime job. Decent sandwiches for sure, so don't be too chicken to try 'em out!

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Eggwich Breadless Breakfast Sandwich: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Trader Joe's Onion Salt

Right there on the front of the shaker, it says this product is "a savory allium blend." I've heard the word allium before, but I had to look it up.

It's the genus that includes many of the most delicious plants on God's green earth: garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and chives.

More like alli-YUM, am I right?

Furthermore, their medicinal properties are epic. I've cured bacterial infections and lowered my blood pressure with raw garlic, for example. Now, make no mistake, this isn't medical advice...but if it were medical advice, it might just be the best medical advice you ever received.

To be sure, you need the raw stuff to get those wizard-level health benefits from the allium family, so you're not going to be putting any pharmacists out of business with products like this one. However, the scrumptious savory flavors of the allium family are here in spades.

It's not just onion you'll taste. There's garlic and chives in the mix, too. Also kosher salt...hence the word "salt" in the product title. I wouldn't have been heartbroken if it were just onion, garlic, and chives. You can always add your own salt if you wish. Furthermore, why leave out shallots, leeks, and scallions from the mix..?

The side of the label says to try it with eggs or stir into sour cream for a dip. I did both. At the SAME TIME. Pretty delicious. Garlic and onion sour cream-topped scrambled eggs are the bomb.

$1.99 for a 2 oz. shaker. Four stars a piece from Sonia and me. I'd love to hear what else you do with this stuff in the comments below.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip

 Ah, vacation. Right?

My lovely bride and I say often we go on vacation to eat, and while mostly somewhat true, we have to attack our food game plan strategically. I mean, we only have so many dollars, and God knows enough kids, and trying to keep everyone more or less happy away from the familiarities of home is challenging at times...or often when it's 100 degrees in Washington DC like it was last week when we went...but anyways.

So, yes, we enjoy going out and checking different restaurants and bakeries and whatnots, but usually stop at a TJ's for some staples and easy treats, so while something like Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip would never make into our cart at home, it will when it means an easy, relaxing morning at the AirBnB. It had a pool...and chickens too! Sounds better than wandering and sweating aimlessly around the National Mall.

I mean, what can be said here. I think the pic really says it - you can basically taste it by looking it. There's nothing special or unique or amazing or anything here. It's a large, easily shareable Danish in strip form. So it's good...but great? 

Nah. The whole shebang is a bit thicker than I thought it'd be, so that's a good start - nobody likes a flimsy Danish. The crust itself is thick and layered and buttery and appropriately bready and flaky where needed, but all that needs more filling to balance out. here's where it falls short - not quite enough raspberry or cream cheese. Maybe 50% more of each would be perfect, so it's not like a smidge off. And it's a shame, because both those components are quite tasty - the jam is nice, sugary and tart, while the cream cheese is cool and creamy, and work well together as one would expect. All that icing atop is a good touch - maybe a touch less would be fine, but it's not worth making a fuss over as is. 

But anyways, for it being a grocery store breakfast treat more than large enough for the family, for like $5, instead of $8 slices of pie (delicious!), $5 popsicles (also tasty) or $6 cookies (also good) - all of which we also purchased while on our trip - we will take it and may buy again next time we're on the road. Double threes. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Iced Raspberry and Cream Cheese Danish Strip: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

p.s. - Unrelated to this post, I finally saw and bought a bottle of Trader Joe's Cookie Butter Beer while away....never drank it....and accidentally left it in the fridge at the AirBnB. TJ's doesn't sell alcohol in my home state of PA. If anyone can somehow help me get a bottle please let me know - I really want to try one!

Friday, August 13, 2021

Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cake Mix with Lemon Icing

All right, kids, happy Friday! It's time for another episode of Baking with Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers. For today's treat, we'll be making Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cake. Or, more accurately, Mrs. Rodgers will be making a cake while Mr. Rodgers chronicles the adventure in this super-duper fun and exciting blog post. Remember, it's Friday the 13th, and disaster could strike at any moment, so don't turn that oven up too high. Pre-heat to 350 degrees and that should about do it.

All you'll need is your Meyer Lemon Cake Mix, a stick of butter, an egg, and some water. Of course, you'll want a loaf pan to bake in, too. Mmm. That batter looks tasty. Mrs. Rodgers isn't thrilled when I stick my grubby paws into the cake batter to sneak a lick, but we'll go ahead and do that anyway. Yum. It's sweet and lemony. Ouch! Stop hitting me, Mrs. Rodgers!

Now we have to wait 50 to 55 minutes while the cake bakes. And then...we have to wait another 45 minutes while it cools? What the what? Who has the willpower to do that?

I was once told the following rhyme about restraint and self-control:

"Patience is a virtue
And virtue is a Grace
And Grace is a little girl
Who would not wash her face."

It never helped me with waiting, but I suppose it distracted me momentarily. It's more relevant when you know someone named Grace, which I don't. I digress.

Yikes! Mrs. Rodgers burned herself on the oven rack while removing the loaf pan. Now she has a funny dark line on her forearm. Usually I'm the one who does something clumsy in the kitchen. Oh well. There's always a bit of bad luck on Friday the 13th.

Like an eon later, while waiting for the cake to cool, it's time for Mrs. Rodgers to mix the water, butter, and icing mix together. She might have used a little more than 2 tablespoons of butter, but that's fine. It still looks tasty. It is tasty. And I'm being scolded for once again dipping my finger into the mixture before it's done, this time the icing rather than the cake batter. Oooh. That's sweet.

The cake is super moist and dense. It's pretty lemony, too, although I would almost always prefer more intense lemon flavor. It's really more like a vanilla cake with a lemon essence or lemon zing. There's an adequate amount of icing if you distribute it evenly over the whole loaf. In fact, I think we have a bit left over, which we will manually apply to unfrosted portions in the center of the cake.

The outer crust of the cake is golden brown and is much firmer than the cake in the center. I kinda prefer the soft, spongy, inner portions, while Mrs. Rodgers likes the toastier brown parts.

$3.29 for a tasty loaf of sweet, soft cake with a respectable amount of lemonosity. Four stars a piece from Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers. Thanks for hanging out with us today, everybody. Join us next time for more zany antics and culinary mayhem on Baking with Mr. and Mrs. Rodgers.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee BBQ Sauce

 Inarguably, there's few things that pair together better in these hot summer months than some grilling or smoking and a cold, cold beverage. It's especially true if said cold beverage is a little sudsy and a bit hoppy, at least for me, but really, any cold one could do. 

However, coffee isn't the first drink that comes to mind when it comes to grilling. If you're pulling an all-nighter on a mega "slow and low" session, sure, I can get it. I don't do those at this stage in my life. If I'm up all night it's usually not for something fun like that. 

However, Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee BBQ Sauce is having me rethink that a little. No, not staying up all night to crutch and foilwrap a piece of meat. It's that and barbeque make better bedfellows than I lent credence to. 

The base of the sauce is a good, basic, straightforward BBQ sauce. It's sweet and spicy with solid notes of both brown sugar and chili pepper, with apple cider vinegar and molasses adding plenty of depth. There's some sneaky heat towards the ened - it's not high, by any stretch, but spicier than I thought it'd be. Even then, the heat is offset partially and nicely by a little herbal flair. The last ingredient in the sauce is dried rosemary and I swear I tasted that before I read the list. 

So what does the cold brew coffee add?


There is absolutely a distinct taste of nonacidic, non-bitey, mild, smooth black coffee that permeates the sauce as a core component. I think if all the cold brew and all the rest of the sauce were to somehow be seperated from one another and sampled individually, we'd have a okay cup of cold brew and a decent enough sauce. Put 'em both together though? Another level, and one of the more distinct sauces I've hoad in a hot minute. 

Good stuff. I've used the sauce a few times for pulled pork and it works great. Can't imagine it not working well for brisket or ribs. It may be a touch too heavy for chicken, but I'd give that a try before saying that definitively. If you got a pro tip for the sauce, leave it in a comment below, I'm all ears. 

It's a winner in my family. Costs maybe $4. Gonna keep on keepin' on with it. Double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee BBQ Sauce: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, August 9, 2021

Trader Joe's Peri-Peri Sauce

Okay, here's something totally new to me.

Never heard of peri-peri sauce before. It's pretty rare I'll find something at Trader Joe's that I'm completely unfamiliar with. Usually, I've at least heard of the product online or I've seen it on an ethnic cuisine menu. I'm reviewing it today as much to open up a discussion about it as I am telling you my thoughts and opinions.

What it is: it's a thin, orange liquid. It's thinner than most condiments—definitely thinner than ketchup, cocktail sauce, or sriracha. It's spicy. There's a taste of hot chilies. Has some kick for sure. Higher than a 5 out of 10 on my spice-o-meter. Mouth and throat-tingling from the first bite.

What it's not: it's not sweet at all. This isn't a desserty thing. There's absolutely no sugar or sweeteners of any kind in the bottle. It's not like curry in any way. It's not coconutty, nor milky, nor by that same measure is it bitter—although it almost has the same effect on the palate that bitter tastes do, if that makes any sense at all. It's a little harsh in a way that makes me want to wince in the same manner I do with bitter foods.

Ten seconds into an internet search and I'm seeing that this is, in fact, a traditional African sauce. This variety contains no tomato or vinegar which, from what I'm reading, might not be the norm for this condiment.

I can confirm it goes well with white fish, and I'm certain it would work on grilled chicken, too. I had it with crab cakes and tried it on French fries, and it's okay with those. It obviously provides some heat to whatever you add it to. I'm struggling to think of other applications for this stuff.

Once again, I'm grateful to try an international product for a reasonable price, thanks to Trader Joe's: $3.29 for 6.76 fl oz. I have no idea how to score this fairly. I'd love to hear your thoughts, particularly if you're familiar with other versions of peri-peri sauce.

Product of South Africa. SA is crazy chaotic right now. Hope the folks there are doing okay. Wonder how long until that type of discord is seen in the good ol' US of A..?

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Trader Joe's Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies

Oh, double chocolate. Can any other words in the English language elicit such instant intrerest and happiness? Double rainbow guy was pretty happy, of course...but double chocolate? C'mon now. It made you look. Admit it.

Such as it is with Trader Joe's Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies. There's instantaneous intrigue, and if you deny that, I'm calling your bluff. Double. Chocolate. Bring, It. On. 

First off, let's admit: These are some decidedly small cookies. I mean, tiny. If a serving size is seven cookies and there's eight servings in this rather smallish box, we're talking more like Zoolanderesque cookies for ants, right? That's the case here. Each "cookie" is not that much bigger than a marbe, and I can't expect them to be more than one bite for practically anyone, small children included.

That being said, these bi-chocolate bites pack a relatively decent punch. As the name suggests, there's chocolate in the actual cookie dough, as well as mini chocolate chips sprinkled through out. Plenty of chocolate for anyone! It works, especially as the cookie itself is soft yet crunchy, crumbly yet with a bite, melt in your mouth yet worthy of several chomps. With it being almond flour, there's a small touch of earthiness and nuttiness that lends itself well to the cookie as a whole. I've had other almond flour confections before, and I'll be honest in saying this is one I've enjoyed more than others. 

I'd eat way too many of these, but fortunately the almond flour also makes them a little heavier in the tummy. As one not terribly senstive to gluten one way or another, I'll take that built-in portion control as a plus. Good cookies, and not too cardboardy or weird like some glutenfree products can be, and for like $3ish for the box, it's a good value. Eat 'em up, there's almost no reason not to. Double chocolate. What a world. Double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Double Chocolate Almond Flour Cookies: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons   


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Trader Joe's Lemon Zest Madeleine Cookies

Sonia's mad about madeleines.

They're soft, spongy, lightly sweet, and almost always delicious. And in this case, they're lemontastic, too.

Like their punkinny predecessors, these cookies flaunt an amazing mouthfeel. There's a melt-in-your-mouth quality, texture-wise. Absolutely no complaints there. We even consumed ours a few days past the best by date, and they were still perfectly soft and scrumptious. Miraculously, they didn't burst to life with mold growth or anything like that, either, despite the summer heat.

Flavor-wise, again, no complaints. Lemon lends itself to any white cake or sponge cake type application in my opinion. These cookies are no exception. If anything, that's my biggest complaint: I'd apply even more lemonosity. If they were absolutely dripping with tart, tangy real lemon juice, it couldn't have hurt the flavor.

About three bucks for six cookies. Each cookie is two or three bites, I'd say, depending upon how big your bites are, of course. From the moment the package was open, the cookies lasted about 90 seconds between me and the beautiful wifey.

Some years ago, there was a moment when we thought Sonia might be pregnant. I'm not sure if the cookies had anything to do with it subconsciously, but we both agreed that if it turned out to be a girl that we'd name her Madeleine. Alas, it was not to be in this lifetime. 

Will buy again. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Four from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips

Oh BBQ chips. Such a good ol' 'merican staple...yet so kinda stale. I mean, they're good, don't get me wrong, but when's the last time you had a truly innovative, outside the box BBQ chip? Possibly never? I guess maybe there's a tried-and-true mold, a classic, that's it's hard to innovate besides perhaps tweaking the mesquite or upping the spice a tad. 

But whereas most BBQ chippies go into more or less default Kansas City style, TJ's dare goes towards a different, delicious classic American BBQ genre: the Carolinas! And so shall it be with the the new Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips. 

Carolina BBQ is a lot more mustard and vinegar based. A touch sweet, definitely tangy, vaguely bitter, huge acidic bite, with varying degrees of spices and heat mixed's not my favorite, but it's right on up there for my lovely bride. Give it to me on some smoked brisket anytime though. 

That's the experience here sans brisket. Except...there's something about a potato chip that doesn't help the flavor translate as well. Not sure if it's more the mustard or the vinegar, as both are successful on chips in other flavor combos, but the flavor builds only very slowly, from not-that-perceptible to mild to fairly good to this weird bitter aftertaste. 

It's a decent chip, but there's two things here that can make them better IMHO: first, more seasoning. More spice. More stuff. Having had the real deal, I'd love something closer to the complete Carolina experience here. Secondly, let's reconsider the chip type. These big crunchy ridge cut are big and chompy and kinda thick, and not terribly greasy....maybe that's holding them back to. I love the big crunch but maybe let's go kettle-cooked, hmm? A little added grease would make them much more snacky. 

Anyways, for $3 and a change up from the norm, we'll take them happily. Our kiddos hate them so there's a plus for us. Still...meh at best for me, while the wife is more in love than I am with them. Two from me, four from her.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Carolina Gold Style BBQ Flavored Ridge Cut Potato Chips: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons


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