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Friday, September 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Premium Peanut Butter Roundels

So...what's a roundel?

Sounds like a singular member of a 1960's Motown group, or a really balloony shaped letter of the alphabet. If you would have asked me what a roundel was a few days go, I would have said one of those, or pulled some equally dumb joke out of nether regions. I'm a dad, it's what I do.

But as it turns out...a roundel is a "small disk, especially a decorative medallion." Or a circular disc used as a symbol. Says Wikipedia: "The term is used in heraldry, but also commonly used to refer to a type of national insignia used on military aircraft, generally circular in shape and usually comprising concentric rings of different colours." So like all those bull's eye type deals on old airplanes, or to my suburban-acclimated mind, the Target symbol. 

Hrm. Didn't know that 'til now. That makes Trader Joe's Premium Peanut Butter Roundels food for both body and mind.

You don't see TJ's throw the word "premium" around too often. So, that along with the nearly irresistible combo of chocolate and peanut butter made this an intriguing buy. Unfortunately, there's something here that seems a little lacking if not even a little disappointing in some ways. 

Seems to be the chocolate. 

Forgot to take a pic of the actual product (lo siento, amigos), but the roundels look much like the package pic - main coat of dark chocolate with some milk chocolate striped on top. It looks fancy, but really, it's kinda bland and waxy. This isn't the usual TJ quality dark chocolate here, it's noticeably different. The package even confirmed it's different by it's cacao content - only 49% versus the usual 60s octane blend. Even with a decently thick coat, in all honesty, to me, it doesn't taste like much, and that's disappointing.

So naturally, the main flavor is the peanut butter portion. It's good, not great - a little roasty and earthy, but a lot of added sugar. I mean, it's better than the usual Reese Cup fare...but not over-the-top delicious, and it doesn't quite have the "comfort vibe" of a good pb to me. I'd prefer a little roastier, maybe a touch saltier, and not as sweet. It's possible that with a better chocolate coat the peanut butter would stand out a little better or differently, but as is, it's certainly not unpleasant but it's far from transcendent.

The description on the box is pretty apt of the roundel being a "patty." There's no cookie or cakey kinda base. It's a pbv cup in a different form. That's something else that could have improved it - something a little crunchy in there, maybe a few actual peanuts. 

And be forewarned - these get super melty very easily. Use caution when giving to kids. Had to hose off both my girls afterwards. 

So what do these roundels signify? A decent enough treat for the $4 or so from TJ's. Not earth shattering. I'd be somewhat surprised if we get them again - good, but not great. At least I got to add to my vocab while I was at it. Matching threes. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Premium Peanut Butter Roundels: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Trader Joe's Apple Cider Caramels

There's lots of great stuff you can do with cider besides drink it straight. You can turn it into jam or tea or make apple cider donuts...Trader Joe's, we're looking at you, here. Why have we not seen Trader Joe's Apple Cider Donuts yet?

Nevermind. You've blessed us with apple cider caramels. And we're grateful.

But really, packaged like this, it's more of a novelty purchase than anything else. Four caramels for $1.99. One serving in the whole pack. What a tease you are, Joe. 

It's very much a check-out line, afterthought, "I need a little pick-me-up because my blood sugar's low" kind of buy. I guess it would make a nice birthday present for that person at work that you're fond of but don't really know that well. Or, for you singles out there, it might work as a first-date "Hey look, I'm a thoughtful guy but I'm not super weird and overbearing and showing up with a dozen roses yet" kind of gift. Or better yet, for you married folks, it would be the perfect "Hey look, I still think about you when I'm out and about and yet I'm wise and practical and don't spend a ton of money to prove it" kind of gesture.

And then in each of those cases, not only will you get the "Oh, s/he is so thoughtful" points, but once the recipient tastes the caramels, s/he will adore you all the more, because once again, TJ's—or some mysterious third-party vendor, as the case may be—nailed the essence of fall with a delectable, sweet, spicy apple cider product.

The outside is thick, high-quality dark chocolate, with a little white chocolate swirl on top for decoration. The inside is a very sweet caramel that distinctly tastes like apple cider. It doesn't taste much like traditional caramel at all. Anyone with a decent set of taste buds would easily recognize the flavor in a blind taste test. Not just apple. Apple cider. Yumtastic. Applicious. Ciderrific.

The two flavors play against each other in the best way possible. The dark chocolate lends a hint of bitterness, and even this white chocolate-lover wouldn't want this product with any other kind of chocolate, because the cider caramel filling is perfectly sweet by itself and needs the dark chocolate to balance it out. There are just enough cider spices to make this product unique. The flavor is intense in a way, but not at all overbearing.

All we ask is for a family-size box next year, so everybody can try one. Trust me, you'll pine for more when the little box is finished.

Double fours here.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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