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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Trader Joe's Extraordinary Eggs

Ah, Spring is in the air. And the temperatures are rising here in the mid-Atlantic. 'Tis the season for chocolate eggs—and other symbols of vernality and fertility like flowers, bunnies, chicks, and jelly beans. And much like the subject of Russ's recent post, these are seasonally-appropriate egg-shaped candies with a chocolate base. Now I'm no Russell Stover (in fact, I'd be Nate Velasco had I lived in that hypothetical matriarchal society), but I'm sharp enough to have noticed some significant differences between the two confections which we shall explore in the ensuing paragraphs. Let's get started.

First, these extraordinary candies are actually shaped like real eggs. Plus, they come in what is effectively a golden egg carton—not a carton that holds golden eggs, but a golden carton that holds candy eggs. Second, for $5, you'd think they could include one actual golden egg—or at least plate the carton with gold leaf or something. Goodness gracious, we're on a budget here, TJ's.

Thirdly, there are four flavors in the pack. You may have heard us riffing on that old Forrest Gump quote about life being "like a box of chocolates" from time to time...but in this case, you do know what you're gonna get, because there's a handy cheat sheet on the back of the packaging that tells you which eggs have which fillings. Green = Almond Praline, Pink = Raspberry, Yellow = Crispy Cookies. Now so far, those are my three favoritest flavors, in the order that I like them. Sonia would reverse those three, with both of us holding raspberry as a very close second-favorite on the list. Plus, we both agree the Orange = Caramel flavor is by far the weakest, simply because, in my opinion, it is the least unique.

Each extraordinary egg has a candy shell, not unlike other hard-shelled candies. Inside that outer shell lies a layer of tasty milk chocolate. But the real fun begins when you get to the center of the eggs, where there's one of four respective fillings (see paragraph above). Both the almond praline and crispy cookies are fairly similar in texture, like something akin to cookie butter perhaps, but not as creamy. The raspberry flavor is like a high-quality raspberry jelly, but more like a powerberry than a raspberry stick. And the caramel flavor...has caramel inside. Imagine that.

There are a total of 16 eggs in the pack. When you consider the value per egg, it's definitely on the pricey side, but they are high-quality and they taste really good. For a once-a-year holiday treat, they're worth a purchase just for the presentation alone. I'm sure kids would love 'em. Sonia and I are both leaning toward four stars a piece.

Stay tuned for a titillating episode of Let's Talk TJ's! in which we discuss the exciting relationship between eggs and swimmers and the psychology behind the branding of Trader Joe's candies—unless, of course, Marvo listens to his better judgment and edits out that segment entirely.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Chocolate Mousse Eggs

So, true story. My name's Russ, short for Russell. Sandy's maiden name is Stover, which means, when we got hitched, if I were to take her name (instead of the opposite)...I'd be Russell Stover. Darn you, patriachal society, I could've been able to walk into any store at Valentine's Day, get a box of candy, say it has my name on it, and claim it's mine! Doh!

Anyways, might be for the better. When it comes down to it, there's not too many exciting Valentine's Day candy out there. I mean, box of chocolates? Kinda boring. Maybe part of it is the sugary hangover from Christmas is still kinda glazed upon me at that time. And with few exceptions, most notably that firecrackery Wonka-esque chocolate bar from last year, Trader Joe's has kinda followed suit, offering fairly ho-hum candies in February.

Well, for Easter? I love Easter candy. Chocolate bunnies. Jelly beans (especially black ones...yes, I'm odd). The bagfuls I could get as kid at Zern's for a buck or two from my dad's wallet. And of course, egg-inspired stuff (Cadbury Creme!!!!)...and, um, also Trader Joe's Chocolate Mousse Eggs.

Granted, these are more of a Tastykake/Little Debbie/HoHo type concoction than an actual candy candy, but they looked all decadent and seasonally fancy hanging around the rest of the cakes and baked goods on a recent trip. But the actual experience of ingestion of one of these eggs just doesn;t quite back it up. I mean, they're not bad. Unlike other similarly inspired confections, the chocolate coating actually tastes reasonably like chocolate instead of brown sugary wax, and it envelops some reasonably good cake and "silky mousse" i.e. frosting that thinks quite highly of itself. It's an enjoyable, soft bite that melds and holds together well, hitting a few classic comfort food points.

But ultimately, there's just not that much memorable about them, either. If I were in dire need of a chocolate fix, and these eggs were all I had, they'd work, but given the choice, I'd much rather hit up a TJ's Simply Nutty Bar for some chocosatisfaction.

Also...considering the visual of a chicken laying an egg, was brown really the right color choice? Maybe I'm too city boy and so the anatomical correctness is a bit askew, but that suggests something decidedly not appetizing.

Ultimately, the Mrs. and I will regard them as a fun, good little treat that we reasonably enjoyed once, but that will be that. Sandy did mention they were kinda like a fancy Little Debbie, which I presume is a compliment. Still, there's just something so kinda perfectly average to me about them that's not worth the rather empty caloric intake, so pardon the middling score. You can click here for the nutritional stats (these are apparently pretty much identical to a pumpkin shaped product that is out in the fall). 2.5 from me, 3 from the wifey.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Mousse Eggs: 5.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons  

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