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Showing posts with label snacks and desserts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label snacks and desserts. Show all posts

Friday, September 29, 2023

Trader Joe's Maple Flavored Fudge


Butter and maple syrup: the two best parts of the pancake, together at last, without all that pesky bread getting in the way.

If a charming block of English Butter Fudge decided to cross the pond and have a torrid love affair with a Canuck named Maple Sugar Candy, they might conceive a child named Maple Flavored Fudge, and he'd look and taste something like this...although phrasing it that way sounds a little weird.


This candy is quite mapley. Some of you might have guessed as much, but considering there are about four different types of sugar as well as butter, milk, and cream all listed in the ingredients above maple syrup, I didn't take it as a given. It's just like traditional maple candy except much more buttery. The butteriness is a good thing in my book.

I like maple candy okay, but I tire of it after just a piece or two. I don't really tire of the flavor of these dealies quite as quickly, but I do stop in relatively short order anyway for fear of the enamel on my teeth being replaced by a glaze of maplicious sugar and a resident brood of bone-boring bacteria taking up residence in my mouth.

Seriously, though, I can feel this stuff on my teeth after just a single piece, and I'm overwhelmed with the urge to chew gum or gargle Listerine almost immediately. On the plus side, it's not nearly as hard as toffee. The texture is nice and soft with just a bit of graininess. It feels firm enough in your fingers, but it absolutely melts in your mouth.

Sonia's a fan, and she isn't as concerned with oral hygiene as I am, apparently. So, you know, if you've got a sweet tooth and good dental insurance, have at it...

$2.99 for about 5 servings of 3 fudge pieces each. Four stars from the beautiful wifey. She'd buy again. I really do like the rich maple taste, but my dental hangup might prevent me from buying again any time soon. I'll throw out three and a half stars.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Trader Joe's 12 Mini Pumpkin Ginger Scones


My dad used to make pumpkin muffins with barley flour back when I was a kid. I got sick of them pretty fast, but I didn't have the heart to tell him, and my mom would request them quite often.

"I made pumpkin muffins again, Nathan!" I'd hear him declare from the kitchen.

"Oh grrreat...I'll, um, I'll come grab one as soon as I'm done with my homework," I'd reply.

In a way, these pumpkin ginger scones remind me of my dad's pumpkin muffins, probably because they both contain barley flour and pumpkin puree, although these are much better, flavor-wise. The texture is a tad different, of course, but the insides of these scones were a little muffin-esque, at least to me.


They came out much flakier and scone-like on the outside. I kind of liked the subtle difference in textures. I was also surprised at how much larger the scones got after baking. I mean, I knew they were going to expand a bit, but I'd say they at least doubled in size while heating, if not tripled. It doesn't look like a whole lot of food while frozen, but it's way too much bread for two people for one sitting, even if Sonia and I are carbivorous pumpkin gluttons.

I could see these becoming dry or even coming out undercooked if you don't nail the baking time and temperature exactly. The instructions offer an option to brush the pastries with milk or cream, so I used half and half. Can't tell if it helped much or not, but I guess it couldn't really have hurt. The scones really wanted to stick to the parchment paper after heating, but other than that, they were really nice and flaky, buttery, and flavorful.


They're surprisingly not that sweet. Uncharacteristically, Sonia was the one pining for a glaze or icing of some kind. I can see where she's coming from, but I was fine with them plain. The pumpkin spice blend was pleasant and well-balanced, with a particular emphasis on ginger—but it wasn't an exaggerated raw ginger explosion, either.

$4.99 for a dozen scones. I think we're looking at double fours here. Would possibly buy again next year.



Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Trader Joe's Maple Spiced Nut Mix


I think Trader Joe's had a whole bunch of rosemary and rosemary-laden nuts left over from that Rosemary's Baby mix or whatever it was called, so they just added a bit of maple flavor, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds to make this fall-themed nut mix.

And everything about this mix is stellar...except the fact that there's way too much freaking rosemary. I seriously feel like they were unable to procure the requisite quantity of normal almonds and pecans to maplify so they simply used what they had left from the Nuts About Rosemary version. Like, why does this mix need rosemary? Also, red and black pepper? This mix is oddly spicy, and there's an unexpected heat that actually tingles the tongue, particularly after munching a handful or two.


I've never encountered rosemary maple nuts before, but apparently, they're a thing. I don't dislike the combo. I guess I was just hoping for more mapley sweetness and not necessarily any of the aromatic woodsiness of rosemary or the bite of black pepper.

But hey, now that I know it's not just sweet, it's kinda growing on me. There's an unexpected intensity to the mix that just takes a bit of getting used to. If you're into rosemary and pepper, you'll probably love it.


$5.99 for 8.5 oz of spicy, mapley nuts. We're on the fence about a repeat purchase, which generally translates into not a repeat purchase just because there's always way too much new stuff to try at Trader Joe's. This is a quality product and will surely find its fanbase, but it's not exactly what Sonia and I were expecting. Double three and a halfs on this one.



Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Blondie Brownies


When I was a kid, I got called "Blondie" quite a bit. It was usually old people using the term. Out of respect for my elders I refrained from calling them "geezer" or "old bag" in turn since, in my head at least, those monikers were about on par with calling a young boy "Blondie." It felt way too feminine, even if it was accurate. Why not call me "He-Man" or "Viking"? That would have been way cooler.

But yeah, I was a towhead back in the day—you know, back when I actually had hair. If you go back to our earliest YouTube videos, you can see I was still very blond, even if my hairline was receding like the ocean at low tide.


And while I'm waxing philosophical about names, why even call these "brownies"? Wouldn't it have been more accurate to simply call them "pumpkin blondies"? There's no actual chocolate in them as far as I can tell. Bah. Whatever.

Aside from a few hangups about the product title, I really don't have any major problems with these pumpkin snacks. They were way fresher than most Trader Joe's baked goods we've sampled throughout the years. I mean, ours were super moist and soft. They almost had a fresh-baked vibe.

Both the pumpkin puree flavor and pumpkin spices were subtle, but there. The white chocolate chips were a nice touch, adding some extra sweetness and a more solid texture. Likewise, the pecans were perfect. I only wish the pieces had been larger and more ubiquitous.


This dessert wasn't too sweet, nor too rich. There was almost a carrot cake quality about these blondies. If anything, they could have used just a tad more pumpkin and pumpkin spice, but they're plenty satisfying as is. I'd buy 'em again next year. Sonia likes them even more than I do.

$4.49 for the 8 serving container. Four and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Four stars from me for Trader Joe's Pumpkin Blondie Brownies with White Chocolate Chips and Pecans.



Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Trader Joe's Apple Cinnamon Buns


Ah, the very first NEW fall product of the season. You can just taste the anticipation in the air with a knife. Er, wait. That's not right. I'm sure there's some idiom that sums up what's going on here, but can't think of it right now because I'm too hungry.

Apple. Cinnamon. Buns. Any one of those three elements is enough to make my mouth water. All three together? Shoot. How could Trader Joe's possibly go wrong?

Well, first off, there are no heating instructions on the box, which I thought was weird. I mean, sure, there are plenty of baked goods you can just snatch right out of the packaging and go to town on. These seemed possible candidates for such a situation, and the lack of preparatory directions reinforced that assumption.


However, the buns were decidedly unimpressive at room temperature. Sonia described them as "hard," whereas I simply saw them as "stale." We consumed them a full three days before the best by date, in case you were wondering.

So we mused whether we'd nuke them for a spell or air fry them. We opted for the former at least partially out of impatience, but also because 12 or 15 seconds in a microwave posed less of a risk of drying out the product than any number of minutes in an air fryer.

After heating, the product was markedly improved on several fronts: the texture was wetter, softer, fresher, and even the cinnamon flavor seemed to pop a little more than it did prior to the pastry's ride in the radiation robot. I slathered my share with butter which gave it a bit more of a comfort food vibe than the product provided just on its own.


Still, there's not nearly enough apple in the buns to make them magical or memorable. There's a shallow, paltry pool of minced apples in a sugary sauce right on top in the middle of the buns, but that's about it. For these to get our enthusiastic seal of approval, that apple filling would need to at least quadruple or quintuple in quantity.

As is, we're looking at about three and a half stars from Sonia and three from me which, honestly, I think is being a little generous. Heated, with some added butter, these buns make a passable dessert treat, but they're a far cry from legends like the Rustic Apple Tarte in terms of appliciousness and overall purchase-worthiness.

$4.49 for two buns. Probably wouldn't buy Trader Joe's Apple Cinnamon Buns Crumb Topped Danish Pastries with Apple Filling & Cinnamon again.



Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Watermelon Sticks


Wait a minute. This isn't a fall food. Watermelon is more summery than autumnal. True. We're still doing non-fall food reviews on this blog right now for a number of reasons: (1) many if not most of the fall items at Trader Joe's right now are re-releases and have already been reviewed on this blog. Go ahead. Use the "Search This Blog" bar up top to look up the products you're curious about. (2) It's not fall yet. September 23 is the first day of fall. (3) It's still too warm for autumn products, though it's markedly cooler than it was just last week. In short: patience, young grasshopper. All in good time.


Does anybody remember the chocolate raspberry sticks? Are they still around? Well, these are basically the same thing, but watermelon flavored. I guess I got fooled by the packaging. These watermelon dealies come in a bag while the raspberry version came in a plastic tub. I must say I think the watermelon flavor works better than raspberry for some reason, but even this product doesn't really do it for me in the end.

They're just a gelatinous fruit-flavored center surrounded by a thin layer of dark chocolate on all sides. I guess they're pretty good for a blood sugar picker-upper type situation. The watermelon flavor is more in the direction of like a watermelon lollipop rather than, like, actual watermelon or watermelon puree. It's very candy-esque—not very authentic to my taste buds.


The candies need to stay cool. And I mean, if the temperature is above 72° at all, both the chocolate and the filling will start getting soft and melty. Keep napkins on standby or only consume in cool weather.

$3.49 for the resealable bag. Probably wouldn't buy again, but I can see how some folks dig 'em. Three stars from me. Three and a half stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Watermelon Sticks.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Friday, September 1, 2023

Trader Joe's English Toffee


The thing about toffee is that I don't like dentists.

I feel like every time I eat it that I'm tempting fate to snap off one of my teeth, or at least a section of a tooth, and then I'll be forced to either do some extraordinarily painful homespun remedy involving clove oil, pliers, and an ungodly amount of ibuprofen or go to one of those overpriced professional purveyors of pain.

No offense if you happen to be a dentist reading this. Nothing personal. Unless you're that horrible lady that removed my last wisdom tooth. Then you should definitely be offended.


Toffee. It's like hard candy that you're supposed to chew. There's a reason we don't chomp down on Jolly Ranchers or Werther's Originals or Dum Dums. Toffee is basically the same thing, but if you slap some chocolate and almonds on it, suddenly it's okay to bite into rocks made of sugar.

I'm exaggerating slightly of course. I mean, I'd simply suck on this candy like I do other hard candies, but the nuts make it kinda impractical to do that. It's not quite as a hard as a lollipop or whatever, but it's darn close. And it's sticky. Each bite leaves more and more crushed up toffee fused to the surface of your teeth.


I guess it's unfair to punish this toffee for, you know, being toffee. Compared to other toffee, it's quite good. There's a nice balance of caramel flavor, chocolate, and nuts, and it's buttery and sweet just like I'd expect it to be. I guess I just really want there to be a softer version of toffee—like a chewy, creamy toffee covered in chocolate and almonds. That would be great.

But this here is traditional English toffee. Fair enough. If you've got teeth of steel, you'll love it. $3.49 for the 8 oz tub. Three stars from me. Three and a half stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's English Toffee with Milk Chocolate.



Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crisps Snack


Some days I don't have any silly intro story or clever segue into the actual review, so I just reminisce about products from the past and link to them at the beginning of the post. That's what we'll do today. We won't remember every single product with cauliflower that we've seen over the years, but we'll look at the times when cauliflower has become a substitute for some other food staple. Ahh...let's look at:

That time cauliflower became rice.

That time cauliflower became mashed potatoes.

That time cauliflower became pizza crust.

That time cauliflower became latkes.

That time cauliflower became tortillas.

That time cauliflower became gnocchi.

That time cauliflower became jalapeƱo dip.

That time cauliflower became risotto.

That time cauliflower became cookie butter.

Okay, well, that last one might not have been a thing. But you get the picture. They can turn cauliflower into anything. So crispy little crackers should be a walk in the park for the versatile cauliflower, right?


In my book, not so much. These snacky circles are too dense, too rigid. If they were thinner, they'd be much easier to bite and chew. As is, they're like little cookies—more three-dimensional than I'd have imagined them to be. I thought they'd be delicate like rice crackers, but they're much more solid than that.

They taste a little like cauliflower. They're much more earthy and bitter than typical rice crackers. I think I'd be fine with the product if they used all the same ingredients and simply lost the cauliflower. I mean, brown rice flour is the second ingredient, and I never met a rice crisp I didn't like.


Sonia enjoys them. She thinks they have a very unique flavor, and I don't disagree. She's just a little more fond of that unusual flavor than I am. I'd try redeeming them with random toppings and dips, but I'm afraid it would just ruin my enjoyment of said toppings.

We paid $2.99 for the 2.5 serving bag. I wouldn't buy them again if it were just me. Sonia might I guess. Three and a half stars from the beautiful wifey. Two and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Cauliflower Crisps Snack.



Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Trader Joe's Caramel Apple Dipping Kit


Word on the street is that this product will be back on Trader Joe's shelves in a matter of weeks, so we better take a look at it now so you know whether it's worth a purchase or not. Since the tachyon fields are fairly stable this time of year...and, of course, because I own my very own time machine, there's no point in just waiting around. Let's travel back to the good old days of October 2022 when a few of these fun-for-the-whole-family packs were still available. 

We'll snag Trader Joe's Caramel Apple Dipping Kit and review it ahead of its re-release in September 2023. If you've been wondering what the magical DeLorean TARDIS time sled hot tub looks like in real life, you're in luck. The video below contains exclusive footage of the time machine in action.


Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Trader Joe's Chocolatey Coated Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bites


Miraculously, these are still available at Trader Joe's. I mean, they have all the earmarks of one of those "here today, gone tomorrow" tricks that TJ's likes to pull: social media blows up with people freaking out about the product—and most people love it and some people hate it and the people that love it are addicted and can't get enough and then a week or two after it first appeared, it vanishes and Trader Joe's employees explain that it was "seasonal" or they had "a problem with their supplier" or it had rocks in it or glass in it or bugs in it or frogs in it or it was supposed to be vegan but they found out there was once a piece of cheese in the same room where it was processed. Really, I think it just makes the Trader Joe's executives feel powerful to give people something they love only to take it away from them. It's very mean-spirited.

But not this time. At least not yet. I mean, I can't get on board with the folks who think these are the greatest snack sensation since the original Rice Krispies Treats, but neither can I fathom what the people who say these are gross could possibly be thinking. These are standard, basic desserty snacks or snacky desserts, depending on how you look at them, and they're very much worthy of a purchase for most folks that enjoy peanut butter and chocolate.


The main criticism I'll throw out there is about the texture. They're too hard. Too dense. It's like a million degrees here right now and these things should be softer, especially in the heat. Also, maybe they're too small. Each bite is...well, it's too big to be a single bite and it's too small to be a satisfying stand-alone snack.

I'm not sure why these need to be individually wrapped. I would think they'd have been fine all in one big plastic bag. I guess the ones at the bottom would get even harder by the time you'd consume them.


I like the flavor. There's a bit more peanut butter taste than chocolate, and some people complained that there's not enough chocolate, but I do generally lean in the direction of peanut butter flavor when we're talking classic Reese's style pb&c food items.

Sonia liked them even more than I did. $3.99 for 10 individually-wrapped "bites." I'll go with three and a half stars on this one. The beautiful wifey will throw out four full stars for Trader Joe's Chocolatey Coated Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Bites.

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Someone mentioned these are similar to the peanut butter crispy bites sold at Casey's gas stations. I didn't even know Casey's had anything like that, so we tried them after trying TJ's since there's one right down the street. The verdict: Casey's are softer and a little tastier. They'd get at least a full star more than Trader Joe's offering. Casey's are made fresh every day, so I guess they have an unfair advantage.



Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Trader Joe's Organic Garlic Naan Crackers


No Indian meal is complete without a bunch of naan bread. Man, I could eat that stuff every day. I remember falling in love with the naan at my favorite Indian restaurant back in Los Angeles, Anarkali. Since most Indian restaurants pale in comparison to that place, and also because we don't eat out that much any more, we often pick up naan from Trader Joe's or other grocery stores to go along with our room temperature, pantry style Indian meals or frozen microwave ones.


The biggest problem with naan that I can think of is that it doesn't keep very long, just like regular white bread. It molds in a week or so, unfortunately. Hmmm. 

If only they could turn naan into crackers that last a year or so...and voila. Trader Joe's Organic Garlic Naan Crackers are here. I'm not saying TJ's invented naan crackers, but these are the first ones I've ever seen, so naturally I picked up a box. Garlic flavor. Yum.

And it's kinda uncanny how much these little guys actually taste like naan bread. I'm not even sure how they did it. They captured the unique bready flavor of naan in a crispy cracker format. The garlic flavor is there, too, but as I might have predicted, I want MOAR GARLIC.

It's a nice, savory flavor, but it's not very pungent. I guess that's so you can pair the crackers with Indian food or soup or any kind of dip without worrying about the cracker clashing or trying to steal the show. These crackers flaunt a subtle flavor. I think they could have amped up the allium and made these a very tasty stand-alone snack. As is, they're optimized for dipping, crumbling, and scooping. They go GREAT with hummus.

$3.79 for the 9 serving box. Kosher. Organic. Would buy again. Four stars from me. Four and a half from Sonia for Trader Joe's Garlic Naan Crackers.



Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips

Nate's Notes: This review was originally posted 2/5/21 but Sonia and I decided for no particular reason that it needed a video companion, embedded below. Thanks for reading/watching.
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When looking forward to something with great amounts of anticipation, there are varying degrees of severity of the phrase "not impressed" once you get to experience said something, right?

On one hand, the latest season of Letterkenny? Never watched it or never even heard of it? Change that this weekend, start at season 1, and go. I'd recommend skipping the third episode (named, uh, "Fartbook') as it's a bit hit or miss with newbies. Season 9 of the series debuted on Christmas after a few months of delays...my lovely bride and I binged the whole season in one night...and were left kinda disappointed. It just didn't have the same feel or cleared the same hurdles that previous seasons lifted the bar so high for. Still ok...but not that great. I hope in time appreciation will grow for it, but now, just a simple "not impressed" will do. 

The other extreme may be most of 2020. Maybe the appreciation will grow in time...lots of time...but yeah. That's a pretty emphatic NOT IMPRESSED. 

So where do Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips fall on this spectrum?

Yup, we looked forward to them with great anticipation. Plantains are good and dark chocolate is great, right? Those are still undeniable truths. Yet here, in this iteration, there's a bit of something lacking. Much like previous plantain chips, there's the soft, starchy, styrofoam comfort feel to the actual chips themselves. It's an experience we know well and it works. Except...maybe not for sweet-tilting indulgent treats? It kinda feels and tastes, well, not wrong but not right either. That's not it's fault, it's a plantain and by now inanimate.

As usual, no real issues with the dark chocolate. It's on point and delivers once again, as expected. 

Maybe it's because we somehow expected or craved something more akin to a chocolate covered potato chip that we're left a little not impressed here. Or heck, like our recently rediscovered love of plantain crisps? Yes please!  Like...we knew it wasn't gonna be but wanted it anyways. I will say the overall taste is good, and has some promises, and perhaps like the latest season of Letterkenny appreciation will grow in time, but right now, neither my lovely bride nor I are really all that impressed. 

Maybe we're wrong - it happens, a lot - and we let poor expectation management override sound judgement.

Bags cost a few bucks each - maybe three - and it'll take a few days to finish the spare we have. Our kids like them and their diminutive size (the chips, not the kids) make them a reasonably good snack treat. I was handing them out like literal candy to them the other day. So I'll bump them a grade for that at least. Doing right for kids goes a long way in my book. Still not impressed, though. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons.


Though we may have been slightly more lenient with our scoring, Sonia and I more or less came to the same conclusion: Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies


Sonia's love of madeleines goes back to her days as a Starbucks barista. She'd snack on their mad cookies as she sipped some free-to-her yet otherwise overpriced coffee on breaks. She's been addicted to madeleine cookies ever since, and she's sold me on 'em, too.


We've reviewed at least two other varieties here on this blog. Despite not having any severe gluten intolerants among us, we've sampled dozens of gluten free cookies, pastries, and snacks over the years, and I'd say more than half got a basic thumbs up from our team if not enthusiastic accolades.

So we both had high hopes for Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies. Let's be positive and focus on what's working, first. They're individually-packaged. It might be a waste of material and probably not very green, but all six of the cookies are wrapped separately in a small cellophane bag. It helps keep them fresher longer. You're not going to eat all six in one sitting unless you've got a big family. There's a pleasant amount of moisture to the cookies. They are lightly sweet and taste somewhat similar to traditional madeleines.

What's not working? These cookies aren't dry, but they're not particularly buttery. You could call them "oily" I guess. But they're not smooth or creamy like traditional madeleines. The flavor suffers for want of butter, too. They lack the sponginess of glutenful mads and instead come off as grainy or even gritty in a slightly unpleasant way. The main ingredients are egg, sunflower oil, sugar, and rice flour. It's an odd mouthfeel, and the flavor just lacks that certain something that makes other madeleine cookies special.

$3.49 for six individually-wrapped cookies. Would not buy again. Two and a half stars from me. Three stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's Gluten Free Madeleine Cookies.



Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

Monday, August 7, 2023

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Half the time I review Trader Joe's brand cookies, I'm complaining: "Oh no, not more cookies." I mean, Sonia and I are constantly looking for items that have never been reviewed on this blog before, and virtually every time we do a TJ's run we're like, "Oh look, fifteen new varieties of cookies we can review."

I mean, you don't have to hold a gun to my head to get me to eat cookies, but man, it takes something super impressive to get me excited about them these days. I don't mean to be a Downer Dan, but most Trader Joe's brand cookie reviews on this blog are lackluster at best.


Unfortunately, that will be the case with Trader Joe's Chocolate Chunk Cookies. At least give them an exciting name: Trader Joe's Chunkolate Cookies. Can't go wrong with a portmanteau. Or throw a tagline on the bag: "Trader Joe's Chunky Cookies ARE chunky, and they'll MAKE YOU chunky, too!"

But what we have here are very standard chocolate chip cookies with slightly larger-than-normal pieces of chocolate. These aren't the first "chocolate chunk" cookies I've had, and they're definitely not the best. I guess it's kinda neat when you get a bite with a bunch of chocolate, but honestly, I wouldn't even say there's more chocolate in each of these cookies than an average chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate is just concentrated into one or two "chunks" rather than half a dozen "chips."


The bread part is so-so. Truly nothing original or Trader Joe's-esque is going on here. I'm on the record saying I like soft and chewy cookies better than crispy ones, but man, these are just boring. Throw in some coffee, mango, or ube next time, TJ's. We'll finish the bag but we won't buy again.

$4.49 for 8 cookies, found by the other baked goods. I guess the cookies are fairly large, but I still think that's a bit too much money for what you're getting. Two and a half stars from me. Three and a half stars from Sonia for Trader Joe's Chocolate Chunk Cookies.



Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Trader Joe's Snacky Clusters


Sometimes I wonder if the people who come up with these products aren't, you know, like really high when they think of ideas for new items. Truth be told, I've never smoked weed. Absolutely no judgment if you do. Honestly, I think I'd do pretty well with the stoner crowd. Those folks seem nice and chill.

I've never even had edibles. I mean, there was this one time in college when I was at a party, and I was super hungry, and this pan full of fresh-baked brownies appeared on the coffee table in the living room. I grabbed a couple because my blood sugar was very low and I absolutely inhaled them. I started feeling really funny after that. I never figured out if it was just like a huge blood sugar spike or if they were "special brownies." Guess I'll never know for sure.


So you can probably see where I'm going with this. If you've got a hardcore case of the munchies, chocolate-covered Fritos, Lay's, and Rold Golds probably sound not just edible, but incredible. When you're stone cold sober, maybe...not as much?

So I did an experiment. I had a couple shots of gin as an aperitif while Sonia sipped on wine, and sure enough, these weird, crunchy, chocolatey concoctions suddenly sounded not only eatable but downright enticing. I didn't finish the bag, but I made a dent in it for sure. Sonia was still not quite sold even after a nice glass of red—and I mean, red wine and chocolate go together better than gin and chocolate...

This isn't even the first instance TJ's has sold us chocolate covered potato chips. And of course, their chocolate covered pretzel varieties are legion. But corn chip dippers? That is a little weird. I can see why Sonia is having a hard time getting past it.

$3.99 for the bag. Three out of five stars from the beautiful wifey. Three and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Munchies Clusters...er, sorry, Snacky Clusters.



Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Trader Joe's Ube Mochi


I neglected to post the nutrition information in the video review, so I'll post it here. And just so you're not looking at a weird skinny vertical pic in the middle of a white screen, I shall let this post serve as Ube Central, and it will contain all ube related links from our blog.

Man, when TJ's latches on to an idea, they really run with it. It was once referred to as "Purplepotatopalooza" by Mr. Shelly. I like that.

PURPLEPOTATOPALOOZA:

Trader Joe's Ube Purple Yam Ice Cream

Trader Joe's Ube Mochi Pancake & Waffle Mix

Trader Joe's Ube Tea Cookies

Trader Joe's Ube Pretzels

Trader Joe's Ube Spread

Trader Joe's Ube Joe-Joe's

I guess that's it. Did we miss any?




Four and a half stars from Sonia. Three and a half stars from me for Trader Joe's Ube Mochi.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Trader Joe's Trio of Soft Licorice Twists


Sonia and I got to talking about licorice the other day. It's odd that seemingly everybody in our parents' generation was somehow into black licorice—like it reminded them of their childhood or something. I'm not a huge fan of black licorice, but I'll nibble on it once in a while. I'll save the licorice flavored jelly beans for last, but I'll eventually eat them. The beautiful wifey, on the other hand, HATES black licorice.

We're both cool with fruit flavored licorice, though. In my teens in Pennsylvania, I'd go through a pack of strawberry Twizzlers during the course of a two hour movie at the theater—generally only if they were sold out of Starburst. As a youthful California girl, Sonia would occasionally partake of Red Vines.


These aren't the first soft licorice candies we've seen from Trader Joe's over the years. See: Black, Strawberry, and Berry flavors. Here we have raspberry, mango, and green apple for your snacking pleasure. So...how are they?

They feel like typical licorice—firmer than gummy candy, but still soft—less chewy than taffy, but still pliable. These licorice pieces seem oddly thick to me. They're easily two or three times the diameter of a Twizzler but not as long.

Taste-wise, I was hoping they'd be a little bolder. The mango flavor is probably the strongest of the three. I was also hoping the green apple would be a little more tart. Sour apple is always a winning candy flavor in my book.

I almost feel like I can taste the wheat flour and glycerin as much as the fruit flavor. I mean, the flavors are good, they're just not strong enough. Sonia and I both want a sour version of these with sour apple green, sour raspberry purple, and maybe a sour lemon yellow.

As it is, I think we'll throw out three and a half stars a piece for Trader Joe's Trio of Soft Licorice Twists. $2.49 for the 7 serving bag.



Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Trader Joe's Chocolate & Vanilla Bean Swirl Gelato


Three and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me for Trader Joe's Chocolate & Vanilla Bean Swirl Gelato.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins


Ah, here we have an "Old World Recipe." No doubt these tasty morsels were concocted by The Great Old Ones in their storied city R'lyeh. Perhaps Cthulhu himself combined the delicious flavor of butter cookies with the sweet and tangy zip of juicy Meyer lemons and offered the resulting thins to his demonic brethren as a tide-me-over snack in between devouring hapless human victims.


Or, perhaps, Trader Joe is referring to the European Renaissance rather than characters from a loathsome Lovecraftian lineup. Now that I've scoured the box for clues, it appears that indeed it's the latter assumption that's correct and you can safely disregard all that nonsense in the opening paragraph. Something something something about 19th century sailors and women using lemons for lipstick and kings gifting one another lemons because they were so hard to come by back then. Who knew?

I could see kings gifting each other Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins even nowadays because they're quite delicious. They're like those really thin and crispy snickerdoodles, texture-wise. They're buttery like them, too. But instead of cinnamon and spice, there's a pleasant wave of lemon flavor.

Lemon always feels like a summer flavor to me, and these cookies are no different. Despite the butteriness, they don't feel overly filling, dense, or oily. They're light and crispy yet also somehow very flavorful.

In general, crispy cookies aren't my thing, but this selection gets a thumbs up from me. I'd almost want to call them "dessert crackers" instead of "cookies," you know, if dessert crackers were a thing.

I've tried these dessert crackers plain, with cream cheese, and with vanilla ice cream. They're awesome in every instance. I'd try my dessert crackers with lemon ice cream or lemon sherbet if I had some.

Sonia likes them a lot, too. $4.49 for the 9 serving box is a little pricey IMO, but as usual, you get what you pay for. These things are high quality. Plus there are two separate sleeves of cookies so one half of the package can stay wrapped up while you eat the other half. Double fours on Trader Joe's Old World Recipe Meyer Lemon Cookie Thins.



Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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