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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trader Joe's Quasar Bar

I've always loved the stars, space, and science-fiction. During my time at Penn State, I took as many astronomy classes as I could without declaring an astronomy minor—mainly because doing so would have added a boatload of math classes to my curriculum. I was never terrible at math, but I didn't really enjoy it either. So I took classes about archaeoastronomy (the study of archaeology and ancient cultures as they related to the stars and constellations) and the probability of life elsewhere in the universe. Incidentally, PSU has been in astronomy news recently, as one of its astronomers came up with the theory that the unusual drops in light levels coming from "Tabby's Star" might be due to "alien megastructures." I think that particular astronomer may have jumped the gun on announcing the potential existence of extraterrestrials, but hey, you never know.

My personal theory about those strange dimming patterns from star KIC 8462852: a swarm of Trader Joe's Quasar Bars en route to Earth...and BREAKING: the first wave has just arrived. Thanks to reader Ryan B. for the heads up on these TJ's brand "Milky Way" bars (who curiously has an alien featured in her Facebook profile pic).

If you like Milky Way bars, you'll most likely enjoy Quasars. They're extremely similar, with just a few key differences. TJ's offering is a little more salty, so there's a bit of that "salted caramel" effect. And it's coated with dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate, so it's just a tad less sweet. There's still whipped chocolate on the inside, as well as caramel and nougat—so still plenty of goodies for those of you with sweet, sweet teeth?

It's got the classic, soft, nougaty vibe that we've all come to know and love, as well as a cool astronomical name, all for just 99 cents. And it's yet another bone thrown to the dark chocolate crowd, but there's plenty of sweet stuff in there too, so you won't hear me complaining on this one. I think I'll give this delectable candy bar four shooting stars. Sonia will go with four and a half.

If you're interested in knowing what a quasar actually is, I'll just point you in the direction of this article. It's a fascinating subject, but not one I'll elaborate on here on our adventurous food blog...because it would take up way too much space...and I still wouldn't be able to explain it adequately.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Half Moon Cookies

I've already mentioned Seinfeld's Black and White Cookie on this blog once long ago. "Two races of flavor living side by side in harmony." But it really needs to be brought up again. Because this product essentially IS the Black & White Cookie. TJ's offering doesn't look quite as large as traditional B&W's, but other than that, they're remarkably similar in appearance.

Apparently very popular among New York's Jewish population, these cookies have been a mainstay at NYC bakeries for many generations. Trader Joe's went with "Half Moon" here, perhaps to deliberately avoid the stereotypes that go along with "Black & White Cookie," however, according to this article, penned by someone far more familiar with the history of these fun pastries than I am, a "Half Moon Cookie" is a devil's food cookie iced with chocolate and vanilla frostings. Cookies with a soft vanilla dough, such as these, are most definitely Black & White Cookies. The author of that article goes so far as to call people who refer to Black & White Cookies as Half Moon Cookies "philistines," and he points out that Black & White Cookies should be more accurately referred to as "Apartheid Cookies," which I found quite amusing, but that's neither here nor there in terms of this product review.

What is important is that these particular Trader Joe's brand cookies really aren't much to get excited about. I enjoyed the softness of the cookie part—and I liked that it wasn't too sweet. But I found both the chocolate and vanilla fondants to be somewhat disappointing. Each side featured a vague vanilla or chocolate flavor, respectively, but neither was a taste I was eager to return to. The fondants were far more firm than the cookie itself, and in a way, I felt like they ruined the nice texture of the doughy part. Sonia felt the same way. If anything, she was even more bored by these than I was, flavor-wise.

There's nothing particularly unappetizing about them, either. We snacked on them from time to time and didn't find it very hard to get through the package, but we weren't exactly fighting over who got the last one. In the end, they're just not particularly memorable.

Two and a half stars from Sonia. Three from me.

Bottom line: 5.5 out of 10.

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