Google Tag

Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Trader Joe's Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

Back in the days when this old blog was not so very old, and there were only 340 or so TJ's locations nationwide, people knew me as "the sweet beverage fiend," or "the hummingbird." I grew up on full-calorie sodas and sticky sweet, high fructose corn syrup-laden "juice" drinks. And while I've basically sworn off HFCS altogether at this point—and love Trader Joe's because they very infrequently, if ever, use it in their products—I still love me some sweetness. So when this product tasted just as much like cucumber as watermelon, I was a little disappointed.

I mean I know it says "cucumber" in the title of the product, but I thought that was just to make it sound healthier than it actually is—in the manner of TJ's Tropical Carrot Juice Blend or Omega Orange Carrot Juice. I'm not saying those carrot drinks aren't healthy, I'm simply pointing out that the carrot flavor is cleverly blended in with a multitude of other sweeter essences. But this actually tastes like cucumber. And while my instinct is to simply complain about tasting cucumber juice for the next couple paragraphs, I really can't think of anything else to say about it, and I know my negativity would attract a plethora of negative comments, and I'm sure there are plenty of you, like Sonia, that will actually enjoy drinking cucumber juice.

Surprisingly, however, both organic sugar and watermelon juice outrank "cucumber juice" on the ingredients list. And even more surprisingly, the cucumbery taste is growing on me—ever so slightly. Sonia pointed out that this beverage will be perfect come summertime. It's meant to be a "cooler," just like the title says, and I must admit that it's a great thirst quencher. It was a little better with a ton of ice. It definitely does taste like watermelon, too, but the watermelon to cucumber ratio favors the "cuke" a good bit more than I was expecting. It's a light flavor. just tastes a lot like cucumber. I'm sorry I keep saying that. It's don't drink cucumbers. I'm open to new things, but...cucumber juice? It's weird, but I guess it's not necessarily bad. Always good to expand your horizons, right?

I think I'll be generous and give it 2.5 stars for its thirst-quenching properties and uniqueness. But be warned: if the idea of cucumber juice turns your stomach, you probably won't like this product. Sonia gives it 4 stars. She's down with the cucumberiness.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo 2.0

You just don't mess with some classics.

Like, seriously, no, don't.

Like Jennifer Gray's nose. Like Charlie and Chocolate Factory, despite your fancy squirrels. Like about 2/3rds of the songs on this list (beware, some NSFW language). Seriously, not like I was ever a Madonna fan, but when she ripped off "American Pie"....there are no words.

I guess if any of those can be messed with, though, so can Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo.

Listen: I'm a guy who, despite dabbling in pseudo-vegeterian ways about a year ago, keeps a spreadsheet of every type of animal I've ever eaten (up to 23!), and yet, I love, love, love TJ's soy chorizo. Loved it enough for it to be my first review for this site back in the day. Loved it enough for it to be a continual staple for tasty, healthy, easy dinners - chorizo, black beans, rice, salsa and cheese all mixed together (as pictured) - for years to follow. Darn good stuff.

And got taken away.

The official word I heard: Needed to change supplier, pricing changed, TJ's wanted to keep quality product at low price. Alright, well, I get that. Bizness is bizness. Huzzah. Still, it's a popular enough product that a) Seems like there should be no shortage of suppliers willing to make a deal 2) A small price increase (let's say 50 cents) wouldn't dampen sales too much (wouldn't stop me) and d) Discontinuation of a popular product should be foreseeable enough to start making alternate plans to avoid months of a product not being in stock. Of course, we're talking about the same place that still can't figure out how to bring back the best peanut butter ever, so maybe this shouldn't have been a total surprise.

So now, finally, it's back in stock, after something like six long months of it being gone. If you're familiar with the old version, this is just about a spittin' image, with just a few discernible changes. First, it seems a little spicier, with a little more bite to it. That part is good.

The other change: It's no longer vegan. There's "milk powder for freshness." Some one please explain how that works.  

And someone please explain how someone thought that was a good idea. I'm not vegan, but I can see such a change being pretty upsetting for those who are. It's alienating a segment of the customer base. It's not right.

And apparently I'm not alone in thinking this. This is not official word, but I heard this from two separate store employees in person: It's being be reformulated back to being vegan based on the outcry from customers about the switch from vegan to vegetarian. Heard nothing about time frame. Maybe one of you reading this is more in the know than I am. This complete lack of foresight is pretty frustrating.

Anyways, to help hold us over, I picked up three packs the other night. Still $1.99 each, which is a darn good price. Since we ate one already, that means I have two left in the freezer (these freeze great!), and after we eat the second package, we'll have an interesting dilemma for third: eat it or keep it? I mean, within a few years, as the world's last Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo vegetarian version, it might be worth enough to send my kids through college. One can hope.

Sorry for the "more rant than review." Just irritating. And I'm taking it on our score, marking it down a couple full spoons off of the original. You just don't mess with the classics.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

You Might Like: