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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butterscotch & Sea Salt

With a little intuition, you could guess that Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butterscotch & Sea Salt is a lot like the original bag of wannabe widows, except it's butterscotch this time around. And, lo and behold, you'd be right. So the only question we got here is: Does it work?

Answer: Sort of. Butterscotch can be a tough flavor to pull off, especially in dusty form. That's the case here. As is usual with these type o' snacks, some bites were very heavy on butterscotch-y flavor, others not so much. With those that were lacking, I wanted more. But with too much butterscotch came too much juxtaposition between the sugary caramel-y sweetness and the natural grainy flavor from corn. I've yet to find a perfect bite, but not from lack of trying.

 Sandy rather enjoys it as a sweet, salty, crunchy treat, and honestly, for once, I wouldn't be too upset if she happened to have a little more than me.I think I just liked the original better, and I'd prefer a savory variation over a sweet one...hrmm...maybe something a little more baconesque? Please? Sandy's keeping her original score, while I'm knocking mine to match the price: 2.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butterscotch and Sea Salt: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Winter Wassail

I don't think it's ever come up on this blog before, but I was a band geek back in the day—a proud band geek. I played sousaphone in marching band. In December 1995, our 125-piece unit, including color guard and drum majors, loaded onto a plane and flew to Orlando, FL for the band trip of a lifetime. We marched in the Citrus Bowl Parade and took part in a few festivities right in the Disney parks. 

One of the highlights: a meal at King Henry's Feast, a now-defunct Medieval Times ripoff featuring live jousting, whole turkey legs served right on the bone, and an open invitation to refer to your waitress as "wench." I don't recall the beverage we were wassailing with—it may very well have been Coca-cola or something lame like that—but part of the program involved our host, King Henry, shouting out, "All Hail!" and we'd respond in kind, our cheap tin goblets raised high above our heads, "Wassail!" and then we'd take a drink.

Our feast fell on one of the days immediately following Christmas, and the "banquet hall" there in Orlando was still decorated for the holidays, so I've always remembered the word "wassail" as something very Christmassy and medieval. Apparently, we had been wishing one another "good health" and imploring some Anglo-Saxon gods to give us another good apple harvest the following year—or Coke harvest, as the case may have been.

Whatever that beverage was I was wassailing with those 20 years ago, it wasn't anything like what TJ's has offered us in this Winter Wassail. Because if it had been anything like this, I most certainly would have remembered it more vividly. Not just because this Winter Wassail is delicious, but because it's so unique. It's everything that the Spiced Cranberry Cider should have been, and then some. Granted, there's no cranberry juice, but it's sweet, tart, spicy, and has three types of real fruit juices.

The finish still has the faintest whisper of potpourri and spice drops, but I imagine it's not quite the same as drinking a scented candle, unlike the above-mentioned cranberry cider. It's super versatile: it can be consumed hot or cold (I prefer it cold), with or without cinnamon, and I hear it mixes pretty well with various alcoholic additives, including most red wines. It just tastes like Christmas smells. The Shellys apparently liked it even more than we did, as I was instructed to give it a good score or else my privilege to review it would be revoked. Sonia and I are on the same page here. Are double fours high enough, Russ and Sandy? :-p

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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