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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Sorbet Bon Bons with Chocolate Coating

Let's just lay it out on the table here that I'm no bon bon expert. In fact, prior to these little guys, I don't know that I've ever had a proper bon bon in my whole life. They're usually just little round chocolates, right? And I've heard of ice cream bon bons. But sorbet? Heck, why not? The product development guys knew that as long as there was "mango" in the title, Big Joe was going to green-light the concept. Where's the Mango Cookie Butter, you guys? We're waiting on mango cookie butter here.

But seriously, the best thing these balls of chocolate and sorbet have going for them is their frozenness. It has been quite warm here this past week or so, and I keep gravitating toward these bon bons if only because they're cold. And they're surprisingly low in calories, considering how indulgent they seem—just 90 for two bon bons. 

It's a very sweet sorbet that does indeed taste like real mango, but more sugary. Then they added a significant layer of deep dark chocolate. As far as refreshment goes, Sonia and I both wish we could have the sorbet sans the chocolate. We also think the flavor pairing is a little goofy, although we both agree that it has grown on us just slightly since our first respective bites. 

Of course, I'd like to try this sorbet with a milk chocolate shell. And even though it will never ever happen, like not in a million years, I'd like to try it with white chocolate, too. I guess I'm alone there. Every time I mention white chocolate around Trader Joe's types, I just get WTF's and blank stares. Such is my life.

Sonia says she's "not a fan of morphing chocolate and fruit with the exception of chocolate covered strawberries." I'm pretty sure she means "mixing" chocolate and fruit. Marrying? Mingling? Merging? Meshing? Any of those would work. In Sonia's defense, she's fluent in Spanish. And I can't learn that confounded language to save my soul.

But back to the bon bons. I think they were $3.99 for 12. They're worth a whirl if you think mango and chocolate sound good together. Like I said, the sorbet is very good and very mangoey. I just think the chocolate clashes with it a little bit. I'll give this product three and a half stars. Sonia can't muster enthusiasm for more than three.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Coconut Flavored Caramel Corn

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of plain old caramel corn. But if you jazz it up a bit, I'll at least give it a try. And this product is sexified well beyond the status of standard snacking caramel corn.

I'll admit, Sonia was way more excited about trying this than I was. To say I was skeptical would be an understatement. But this is possibly the best caramel corn I've ever had. 

It's still not my favorite style of junk food, but the flavor of this popcorn is really, really interesting. Both Sonia and I agree it tastes way more like coconut than mango. You kind of have to use your imagination to even detect mango flavor.

Although, it just dawned on us that we're already going through some form of mango overload. We've both tried about six of these new mango products now—and we're worried that our taste buds require greater and greater doses of the tropical treat. A similar phenomenon occurs with pumpkin each fall. But this is week 1, year 1 of the mango madness marathon. Not sure if we can go the distance on this one if we're already requiring increased quantities of the juicy Asian stone fruit.

But perhaps a more likely explanation is that this product simply doesn't taste that much like mango. And that's not a bad thing. The title of the product is a bit misleading, but we'll forgive Big Joe for that one. Because it's delicious anyway. The last product we reviewed was heavy on the mango, and not nearly as heavy as I would have liked it to be in the coconut department. Well, dear old Mr. Coconut has gotten his revenge with this caramel corn. It's just like regular caramel corn, texture-wise, but it tastes just like coconut. There's still a good bit of that sweet, traditional, caramel flavor, too—but who'd have guessed it would blend so well with coconut flavor?

In all seriousness, there is a whisper of mango as well, particularly at the finish. It's just very subtle. And that's all it needs to be here.

In summary, if you like caramel corn and coconut, this just might be your new favorite food. Four stars from me. Four and a half from Sonia.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Bar Bites

Mango madness is right. Or as multiple readers, commenters, and tweeters have put it: "Mango is the new pumpkin." 

Just as TJ's blasts us with pumpkin and pumpkin spice products each fall, they have utterly overwhelmed us with mango products for this spring/summer season. Pumpkins and mangoes are both orange, they're both fruits (technically), and Trader Joe is apparently madly in love with both of them. My head is literally spinning right now from all the new mango products. Okay, not literally. That would mean it's time to call an exorcist. But what I really need is a good personal trainer to help me work off all these mango products, which, unfortunately for me and my summer beach bod (or lack thereof), are mostly—but not exclusively—treat-ish, dessert-esque indulgences.

As of the time of publishing this review, I've tried exactly three of these new mango products. One exceeded my expectations, one fell short of them, and this one was somewhere in the middle. I think I might have been more impressed if not for two little factors here—the first being Trader Joe's Lemon Bars. They're essentially the same product, but lemon flavored. Not sure why they added the "bites" to this product name, because they're exactly the same size and shape. In fact, they're very similar in every other way. They even have the same type of packaging, the same preparation process, and the same fonts on the box. But the Lemon Bars are case you hadn't figured that out by now. And I love me some lemon. And they nailed that sweet, tangy lemon dessert flavor pretty darn well.

Likewise, these bars taste like actual mango fruit, but in a sugary, desserty, confectionized form. Really nothing to complain about. I guess I just like lemon more than I like mango. But these bars have the same soft, supple, creamy texture, and a nice sweet, mangoey finish. I'm certain mango fans will love them.

The second thing that kept me from absolutely adoring these bars was the lack of coconut shavings. I really liked what little was there. It added a lot to both the taste and texture, and I wouldn't have minded, like, maybe three or four times the amount that was actually included. It blended with the mango pretty well, and it added some substance to the bars. It made for a nice summery, tropical kind of feel, and I think even more of it might have enhanced that vibe even further.

Sonia thinks they taste just as much like passionfruit juice as they do mango, and for her, that's a good thing. I'm not sure if I agree with that or not. But we do both agree that these mango bars are good overall, just not as good as the lemon bars.

All in all, these are a nice refreshing dessert with a good balance of actual mango flavor and sweetness. We'll go with double three and a half's again.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

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