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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trader Joe's Mac & Cheese Bites

We are back! After a long period of transition and moving across the country, we have made our maiden TJ's shopping trip on the east coast, and we're ready for another blog entry. 

We are now primarily shopping out of the Media, PA Trader Joe's. So long to our favorite TJ's at 3rd and La Brea in L.A...

Anyhoo, let's take a look at these Mac & Cheese Bites...Hmmm... 

Well, let's face it: mac and cheese was never really health food...and deep fat frying it isn't exactly a step in the right direction...unless, of course, the direction you want to go involves triple bypass surgery. 

I think my good buddies at TJ's read my blog about their "Joe's Diner Mac n' Cheese" and resolved that their next macaroni and cheese product would NOT be bland. Trader Joe's Mac & Cheese Bites are quite tasty...but these little balls make Philly Cheesesteaks look like Weight Watchers entrees. 

The bites must be about a half an ounce a piece, yet paradoxically, about 3 ounces of grease flow out of each one. A half a dozen of the things completely drench a paper towel in milliseconds...we're talking crazy, freaky, Stargate portal summoning grease from another dimension type lipids here...the Simpsons episode where Bart rubs the Krusty Burger on the wall and it magically becomes transparent came to mind...Sonia and I have a new window in our apartment thanks to these little bites. 

But they do taste good. I mean, something with this much grease HAS to taste good...unless, for some strange reason, you don't like grease. If you don't like grease, I suggest you avoid the aisle they sell these things in at TJ's entirely. 

We did wind up putting some Cholula hot sauce on them just to give them a little more kick, but I was happy with their flavor and the comfort food coma that followed. I give them 4 out of 5 stars. Sonia gives them 3.5, docking some points because she's still mopping up the pools of liquid fat in the kitchen. 

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10. (Projected score for grease-haters: -9 out of 10.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

So it's pretty much a proven fact that it's a bad idea to go grocery shopping when hungry. Everything looks better and tastier and you're bound to buy more prepackaged junk food because your thought process is more in tune with instant gratification and not reasonable meal planning. This is especially true at TJ's with all of their snack food and how they pile it on every conceivable display they can. 

Sandy and I went there for our somewhat weekly supply run after I picked her up from work one night but before we had a chance to eat dinner. Our stomachs were both growling as we walked through the doors to see what Joe had traded for us this week. We behaved going through the first couple aisles, getting cheese, our latest installment of soy chorizo, some fruit, etc. You know, real food we actually needed. 

But when we turned our cart around the corner about to go up through where I call "Temptation Lane", there it was. Huge, bright, happy end cap display of Candy Cane Joe-Joe's. It was like the centerpiece of the entire store, brimming with promise of seasonal sweet tooth satiation. They might as well have had a guy dressed as Trader Joe approach us and say "Aye, Cap'n, these be the best I scrounged for you this week" in some false pirate accent. There was no way we weren't picking up a box before scurrying home and plowing our way through.* 

Well, they aren't bad, but they're not that great either in the end. Imagine taking a candy cane, smacking it with a hammer til there's nothing but a pile of granule-y dust, smacking it more and putting it in the middle of your classic Joe-Joe/knock-off Oreo with a little mint flavoring. That's about what there is to them. The package claims to have "real candy cane pieces and rich cocoa in every bite" - both parts are a bit of an overstatement, as it's literally minute minty particulate matter and the usual not-so-rich-but-okay chocolate cookie wafer with the typical sugary filling holding it all together. 

The red food coloring dots they put in the filling are made of deception and falsehood, not good old candy canes. Of course, I should have questioned the accuracy of the packaging as they are clearly named Joe-Joe's, not Joe-Joes. I'm not sure what the apostrophe is trying to express ownership of ... the cookies themselves? No, I just bought them, they're mine, whoever you are, Joe-Joe. Of course, like any cookie of its type, enjoying them with a little milk makes them a little better too. 

Anyways, they're neither remarkable or unremarkable, They're just a seasonal variation on a classic. Just because they were the centerpiece of the store doesn't mean they should be the centerpiece of your holiday cookie tray - make some good old fashioned homemade cookies for that. The Candy Cane Joe-Joe's are good for a little snack or to tuck into a lunch, or okay to grab if you're running late to a casual holiday party, but for me, that's about it. I wouldn't mind getting them again, but I wouldn't insist either, and I won't miss them when they're put away for the season in a few weeks. 

Sandy seems like them a little more than I do, and she gave the Joe-Joe's 4 out of 5 golden spoons. Girl loves her candy canes, I guess. I'll give them 2.5, right down the middle, for total of 6.5 out of 10 golden spoons.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


*It's about a week later, and about half of them are still around. That'd be a household record for a truly irresistably deliciously tasty sugary munchie if, you know, that's what they were.

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