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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Trader Joe's Holiday Cheer Unexpected Cheddar Cheese Spread

Not all that long ago, Sonia and I purchased our very first tub of Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar Cheese Spread. It became our most recent addition to The Pantheon. In other words, we freaking love it. It came to our attention around that same time that TJ's also offers a hatch chile version and a holiday version of unexpected cheddar.

In true Trader Joe's fashion, they yanked the hatch chile iteration from the shelves before we could get our hands on it. (Please bring it back next year!) But we did manage to acquire some of this Holiday Cheer cheese spread, so here we go!

They've added dried, sweetened cranberries, riesling wine, and cinnamon into the mix. How is that gonna work?? Pretty well, honestly. Surprisingly well. But in the end, as tasty as it is, I feel like one of the strengths of the original flavor is its versatility and I think those additives make this holiday version slightly less so.

Of the three added ingredients, cranberries influence the look, taste, and texture of the product the most. On average, there's a couple shreds of cranberry in every bite. It lends a bit more sweet and tart to the spread. The riesling is also sweet, but it's very subtle. If you pay close attention, you can taste a whisper of sweet white wine. Likewise, the cinnamon flavor is barely there. If it were any more intrusive, it might not have worked, but as is, I say it's fine.

The spread still pairs deliciously with plain water crackers. It would go great alongside dessert wines, fruit, and maybe certain sweet meats. I don't know if I'd use it all willy nilly on cold cut sandwiches like I did the original flavor, though. Sonia added a couple spoonfuls to some spicy veggie chili, and I was certain it wouldn't work at all. But I was wrong. It was unique and quite tasty.

In the end, it's another great product and it definitely tastes very similar to the traditional unexpected cheddar. The cranberries, in particular, make it taste, look, and feel just a bit more Christmassy than its predecessor and I think we'd buy another tub next year. $4.99 for the tub. Four stars from yours truly. Four and a half stars from the beautiful wifey for Trader Joe's Holiday Cheer Unexpected Cheddar Cheese Spread.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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