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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Soup Crackers

This is one of those TJ's products with a tricky name. It's not hard to pronounce or anything, but when I look at the box, my immediate assumption is that these are pumpkin-flavored crackers optimized for crumbling and throwing into a big bowl of piping hot soup. And I'm not saying they're not good for that purpose, but what the name actually means, according to the little write-up on the packaging, is that Trader Joe's took the taste of pumpkin soup and infused these crackers with it. Interesting.

It hasn't been all that long since we've had pumpkin soup from Trader Joe's. Sonia has made at least one repeat purchase of that soup since our review of it three years ago—I'm fairly certain we had a carton of it last year. Or was it two years ago already? Gosh, it sucks being old. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that we both remember the soup being fairly pumpkinny. Despite the presence of pumpkin puree, these crackers, in our opinion, are not.

But they do taste "harvesty," if that makes any sense. There is the slightest essence of something squash-ish—undoubtedly due to the pumpkin puree. But more notable is the pleasant blend of herbs and spices, including salt, onion powder, and brown sugar. It's this blend of flavors that gives the crackers their "soupy" vibe. The taste is not unlike a homemade broth, but in a solid form. Sonia thinks they're reminiscent of original flavor SunChips.

Texture-wise, they're nice and crunchy. They taste and feel like they're made of rice and oats, which they are—and yes, they're gluten-free. If you were inclined to eat them in soup, they'd probably go best with something like chili or tomato soup, rather than lighter, clear-broth soups.

If you're avoiding the whole sweet pumpkin pie spice thing, but still want something autumnal, these might be what you're looking for. They didn't blow us away, flavor-wise, but there's a unique heartiness to them that's worth a looksee if you're after something subtle and herby. Three and a half stars from each of us.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Zinger

"Put your pears on the stairs!"

"Stomp and roar, out the door!"

"Put your sidewalk on the fidewalk!"

Yes...rhyming is all the rage these days with my four year old daughter. It's going on for weeks, nonstop. Most of our conversations sound like the classic Princess Bride talk between Inigo and Fezzik....sometimes with actual words, and as you can see, sometimes not. It's what we do, usually with a giggle...and a wiggle!

I'm fairly glad that I won't have to explain that the words "ginger" and "zinger" don't precisely rhyme, despite looking pretty similar. That "g" at the start of the second syllable is troublesome, isn't it? Close, but not enough. No rhyme, at any time.

But I ought to attempt to explain to all you fine folks how Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Zinger tastes, so here goes. Best way I can explain is, think of a bell curve, with one end designated for lemonade and the other for a mild ginger beer. Your tongue "rides" this curve as you taste this particular drinky concoction. At the foothills, there's the sugary sweetness of the lemonade, but when one would expect the tart bite to kick in, there's the intermingling of the ginger. This mix gets stronger, and just when the flavor you think would apex, it descends once more, this time more towards the ginger, with the very tail end leaving a meek, inoffensive ginger burn.

And that's pretty much it.

One end, a little lemonade, on the other, a little ginger beer, and in the middle between those two points there's a whole lot of not much. Well, sugar and water, yes, but really...nothing there. A little carbonation would have helped carry any flavor through, I think, because really, this kinda reminded me of flat soda. On the plus side, when I mixed a little rum in there, that middle ground picked up fairly well with a more solid base in there.

TJ's has proven how delectable ginger and lemon can be before. It's too bad the results can't be duplicated in beverage form here. Sigh. If this were still the hot depths of summer instead of slowly turning towards hoodie weather here in the Northeast, I might be a little more forgiving and use some words like "light" and "refreshing"...but not to be rude, I'm not in the mood. At $3.49 a quart, no need to rush it to your fort, but might be worth a shot...that's all I got.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Zinger: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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