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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Joe-Joe's

Ever since Sonia brought back her first mango everything TJ's run a few weeks ago, we've had a box of Mango Joe-Joe's sitting on our counter. I'm not sure why, but neither of us even tried them until yesterday. Maybe it's because we're a little mango'ed-out. Maybe it's because we have willpower. Well, we know that's not true in my case...Sonia's case, possibly. But for whatever reason, I've had this inexplicable, temporary aversion to sandwich cookies. And despite hearing plenty of positive things about them on the interwebs and from readers, these Mango Joe-Joe's haven't even tempted me. Not the least little bit.

And now, after trying them, they still aren't calling my name like I thought they might. They're certainly not terrible. I guess fruit-flavored sandwich cookies just aren't my thing in the end.

Like any other package of Joe-Joe's, there are two rows of cookies resting in a plastic carton inside the box. Upon opening the cellophane wrapper, there's a distinct fruity smell, although I wouldn't have known it was mango if it hadn't so boldly told me so on the box. There are no fewer than three separate mango ingredients in these cookies, yet I still wouldn't say they taste distinctly like mango. In fact, of all the mango products I've shoveled down my gullet this month, I'd say these taste the least like mango. If I had been blindfolded, you could have told me these cookies were peach or passionfruit flavor and I would have believed you.

But that's not a terrible thing. It's a light, tropical, fruity vibe that's not unpleasant—and there's still a significant bready, sugary, sandwich cookie flavor to these snacks. Neither drowns the other out.

The box suggests five different methods of consuming the cookies, and I've tried three of them so far. In addition to just eating the cookies like a normal person, I also twisted the cookies apart, licked the creme center and then ate each side individually. I tried nibbling them around the edges until the whole thing was devoured (although I did not squawk loudly when finished, as is officially recommended by Joe-Joe the Toucan).

And then I tried them with milk. That was a fascinating experience. I was actually more impressed with the unique taste of the milk after having Mango Joe-Joe's dunked in it than the cookies themselves. Again, the cookies weren't bad. They were just milky, fruity sandwich cookies. But the milk became like some delicious tropical melted milkshake from the gods—not unlike the milk at the end of a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Froot Loops. I've always loved fruit-flavored milk like strawberry milk and banana milk. Now I can add mango milk to that list, too.

Please feel free to disagree in the comments below, but I think I'm only going to be giving this product three stars—a respectable score, but not stellar, either. Sonia thinks they taste enough like mango. She's just not sure they're worth all the fat. She'll give them three and a half.

Bottom line: 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Chia Pudding with Cultured Coconut Cream

Let's positive. Focus on the good stuff. Look on the bright side of life. There's good in almost everything with a little perspective. That's the proper way to look at life, right? Right?

So, as a proper challenge to that, may I present Trader Joe's Mango Chia Pudding with Cultured Coconut Cream?

Glass-half-full side first: The pudding sounds good. C'mon, admit it, it does. Even with some mango fatigue setting in, this kinda sticks out if you happened to glance upon it on the refrigerated shelf. Even without the lid's suggestion, as a small breakfast time treat, or a little snacky or dessert, it certainly sounds like an indulgence on the probably healthyish side. And hey, dairy-free for those who that's a concern for.

Then, there's everything else.

It's debatable between the wife and I about what's precisely wrong with the puddin'. My stance: it's the texture. It's kinda stiff and chunky and feels kinda slimy. There's some coconut strips in there that add an odd little fibrous bite that seems a little out of place. And then there's all the chia seeds...the cup's full of them. Top to bottom. That's just too many. Also, I'm not entirely sure if it would have been better if the seeds were, actually, you know, seed-like with a little crunch or something to them - because instead they just seem wet and bloated and soggy with scarecely any difference between them and the rest of the pudding.

That's what bugs me. What bothers Sandy: the taste. Admittedly, it doesn't taste like much at all. Mangos are naturally full of sugar, so it ought to taste sweet, right? You'd think...but maybe somehow the coconut dulls it all out, because there's next to nothing going on here. I mean, kinda look at it - it looks like it tastes. Gray. Lifeless. Just kinda there and not much else. Okay, there is a little something to it...but nothing all that much. I'm usually not a guy in favor of things like added sugar, but this could really use something to liven up the flavor a bit.

This kinda glop is usually right up Sandy's alley. She took two small tastes and made a huge "Bleccccch" face before handing over to me. I tried, and what promptly followed were two in-depth conversations: 1) Should we return it? We decided not to, because TJ's is 20 minutes away and not on our usual daily commute currently with M's preschool out. and 2) Is it okay to use the words "mango boogers" in my review? I mean, that's what first came to mind...I win, this is my review!

I've yet to hear anything positive about this mango pudding, so maybe, as our brightside takeaway, we can all be united on how not good it is. Sandy gave it a 0, I'm not much higher.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mango Chia Pudding with Cultured Coconut Cream: 1 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, June 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Mango Mango Mochi

Just a little quickie here to jump start the week: TJ's Mango Mango Mochi. As if you haven't heard the word "mango" enough these past couple weeks, TJ's just had to squeak it into the title of this product not once, but TWICE. I guess it's because they use mango sorbet as well as mango jam filling. 

The jam doesn't really seem like a separate flavor to me at all—but it might add a hint of extra creaminess to the center of the mochi even when it's frozen solid. Otherwise, these are almost exactly like the Mango Mikawaya Mochi that Trader Joe's has carried for years. Now I'm not going to say this stuff is Mikawaya brand, because I couldn't tell you if that's the case for sure, but I will say that it's extremely similar in taste and texture. Actually, now that I think about it, Mikawaya is based in California and this product is imported from Thailand, according to the box. So...probably not Mikawaya.

This product has a great mango-esque flavor, but it is particularly sweet—which is totally fine by me, but then again, I do have a sweet tooth. Mochi and mango are generally a pretty good combo...well, okay, there was this one instance where they were a little goofy together. I'd probably still choose vanilla or strawberry flavor first, but by and large, mango and mochi are friends.

Mochi and mushroom, however...

Four stars from me. Sonia will go with three and a half.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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