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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Cranberries

Here's a semi-apology in advance of the rest of today's review. Admittedly, Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Cranberries are far from the sexiest foodstuffs that have been reviewed on this here blog. Originally, I was planning a longwinded exposition on the unexpected and unlabeled sheer cherry-ness (no, not cheeriness, but definitely cherry-ness) and the rare implementation of the double ampersand on the Blueberry & Pomegranate Flakes & Clusters Cereal, but Nathan beat me to it by about 8 months. Though we lack a perfect track record, we try avoid doubling up on product reviews. Wanna see where we goofed? Check this and this review of strawberry lemonade, or this one and this one going over the malabari parathra. Since it's been over a week since last stopping at TJ's (the shame!) when we loaded up on a lot of old trustworthy reliables, I had to scour the depths of my pantry to find something, anything to get reviewed, so here we are. At least I'm not making up fictitious conversations abut cans of coconut milk again.

Regardless, these are some pretty good little fruity guys. I kinda want to refer to them as "Nature's SweetTarts" but that's probably a little bit inaccurate on a few different levels. Meh. I've never had (or don't remember) ever having Craisins, but these are probably pretty similar. There can't be too much difference from one dried cranberry to the next. If you're not too familiar, think raisin, except a little tougher and chewier, and tasting like, of all things, a cranberry. Go figure.

Tell ya what, though: These are some serious flavor-packed dried berries. It's much more than what I expected. It kinda takes a few bites to really get the orange flavor flowing, but once that citrus tide hits, it's there to stay, in just about equal power to the cranberry. Think super juicy mandarin for a good flavor comparison. I honestly can't eat more than a small handful or two before being done with them - the juxtaposition of sweet and tart is just too potent for mass consumption by their lonesome. But mix them in some muffins or trail mix or a salad or whatever else you'd like, and they'd make a pretty welcome flavo-burst, methinks.

One thing I wonder, though, and I didn't notice them until I snapped the picture of the ingredients and nutritional info: for all this orange flavor, there's no Vitamin C. I'm no expert on such things, but if there's "natural orange and citrus flavor", that means something like some juices, and doesn't that have to transmit some Vitamin C? Unless it's something like some "natural" orange flavor Fun Dip or something. That just strikes me as a little odd.

Anyways, TJ's orange cranberries are a fairly regular resident of our pantry. Sandy regularly makes oatmeal for a breakfast on the go on weekdays, and she usually opts for plain oatmeal with some of these and a smal handful of almonds. I thought she picked these up all the time because she really, truly enjoyed them, but come to find out, that's not the case. " Eh, I usually get them because they're about the cheapest dried fruit I like," she said. I think a sackful costs about two bucks for a seemingly generous cup and a half, so it's not a bad deal. She gives them a three, while I see that and raise half a spoon.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Orange Flavored Cranberries: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons   

Monday, March 3, 2014

Trader Joe's 100% Cherry Juice

Not to be confused with Trader Joe's Cherry Cider, this beverage is, as the bottle claims, 100% cherry juice from concentrate. And while its "cider" cousin is much sweeter and more Juicy Juice-esque, this beverage isn't nearly as tart as I thought it might be. It is, however, the "adult" version of the Cherry Cider, and no, I don't mean that it's endorsed by Ron Jeremy or anything like that. I mean they both kinda taste like cherry, and they both contain nothing but 100% juice, but sugar-craving sweet-toothed children would probably enjoy the cider beverage more, thanks to the sweeter juices blended into that one. This 100% cherry drink is a great balance of tart and sweet. And no, I have never seen a Ron Jeremy film, with the exceptions of Boondock Saints and Ghostbusters, but I did see him in person once at the Jiffy Lube on La Brea and Melrose, and one of his friends used to speak at our old church a lot. No kidding.

At first gulp, this beverage tastes just like a cherry Jolly Rancher. But the finish isn't quite as syrupy sweet. There's a slight aftertaste, but I usually detect some aftertaste after eating actual cherries, so I guess that's to be expected. Plus with the juice, you don't have to worry about spitting out pits. But at $4 for a quart, this stuff ain't cheap. I'm guessing it takes a whole lot of cherries to make a quart of juice, though.

Sonia liked it too, maybe even a bit more than I did, but she doesn't think this will be a regular purchase in our household. It's too much money for too little juice, and honestly, I'd just as soon drink the Juicy Juice-ish stuff anyway. I love me some sweet beverages. And while this drink is definitely sweet, I'd say it's geared for grown-up palates only. 

Now we have Cherry Cider, Cherry Juice, and we're eagerly awaiting the unveiling of TJ's Cherrystone Clam Beverage. Just kidding. I'll give this juice 3.5 stars. Sonia sees my 3.5 and raises me half a star.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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