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Friday, September 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies

Rejoice. It's that very special time again. It's that time of the year when it rains pumpkin spice products all across the western world. There'll be lattes for Suzy, and Kringles for Johnny, and muffins for Dick and for Jane. 

It's time to get basic—or, perhaps, basically awesome—depending upon your perspective. At any rate, let's get down to basics and talk about this: the first pumpkin spice product of 2018 here on our illustrious blog.

As noted previously, the first Trader Joe's pumpkin or pumpkin spice product of the season tends to have a distinct advantage over later offerings. It's a combination of pumpkin overload, heightened expectations, and social media steering us to the best products first and the "meh" products last. This year, it's no different.

Not that we heard a huge buzz about these on the interwebs prior to picking them up, but Sonia had definitely spotted them on Instamagram a couple times. "Instamagram." That's not an error. That's how I say it. Like when I say my home state, I call it "Pennsylmavania." It's funny. Homer Simpson-inspired. I add an extra syllable in the middle of words to amuse myself and, occasionally, others, because I'm basic like that. It just seems to work particularly well with Instamagram.

Sonia's a huge fan of it when I add my extra "ma" syllable to things. Know what else she's a huge fan of? Pumpkin stuff. Know what else? Madeleines—ahem, mademaleines. So these are like a dream come true for her. In fact, she actually said, "This is a dream come true for me" when she bit into her first cookie. She really, really enjoys these.

I like them too. They're sweet and punkinny. I think the pumpkin spice element is juuust a little too heavy-handed. I enjoy pumpkin spice to a degree, but I feel like it overshadows the natural butteriness of the madeleines slightly. Sonia thinks the balance is nearly perfect.

The texture of the cookies is very madeleine-esque—moist, soft, and spongy. We're both fans.

We both think $2.99 is a tad steep for six small cookies, but Sonia will quickly point out that madeleines tend to be on the pricier end of the cookie cost spectrum.

Sonia will kick off this pumpkin season with a four and a half star score and a big thumbs up. I'm on board for four stars and another vote for "yea" on these mademaleines.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Hot Cocoa Toaster Pastries

Listen, we all know it's coming. Heck, it's practically here. Some (many?) of you are probably wondering why we haven't jumped on that bandwagon quite yet.

Not me, though. I can wait. Long time readers probably know that already. Nathan's the one who's basically awesome, not me. And if you still don't know what I'm talking about, heck, I'm not even ready to write the actual words. But you know them, they're everywhere this time of year. They rhyme with "sumpthin' nice."

But nah. I'm sticking with what I'll call "alternative seasonal tastes" as long as I can. It's a long fall ahead...heck, it hasn't even technically started yet. But colder weather is on the horizon, and with that comes great classic tastes like a good cup of hot chocolate.

Or, more to the point of this review, Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Hot Cocoa Toaster Pastries.

Sheepishly, it was while searching for another seasonally appropriate PopTart compadre that I first spotted these particular TJ's breakfast/snacky pastries. Those other ones were for my beautiful bride, but these? For me. All mine. Gimme all dat!

For me, this is the rare toaster tart that actually tastes better toasted than "raw." The key is the filling. At room temp, it's kinda a basic choco-fill, nothing too special. but when toasted, it gets this warm, gooey, fudgy feel that's quite evocative of the dregs at the bottom of a cup of hot cocoa. Except, well, better.   It's good filling for sure, and the surrounding dough pouch is appropriately soft and crumbly with just the right feel, whether toasted or not.

But there's a small disappointment here. Look at the top. Where's all the frosting? Every pastry we got in our box had this same male balding pattern thing going on. And what's on there isn't quite enough to really taste if it's supposed to be more like some wispy froth type deal, or more of a marshmallow essence. I know this sounds like I'm complaining that there's not enough sugar on my sugar, because I am, but when you're getting a toaster pastry out to mash on down, you know what you're going for, organic or not. If I wanted healthy and good for me I'd make a kale smoothie.

It's been a long time since I've actually consumed a name brand Pop Tart so direct comparisons are going to fall flat, but I'd rate the TJ's toasty tarts as at least equal to if not better than their more famous counterparts. Maybe it's the word "organic" playing mind tricks. You never know...but I know you can find these now at TJ's for $1.99 for a box of 3 dual foilpacks (6 tarts total) which strikes me as a good deal. Need more frosting, though. But for a first taste of things to come, not bad, not bad at all.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Hot Cocoa Toaster Pastries: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Trader Joe's Candy Corn Popcorn

I'm not a huge fan of picking up Halloween products before the leaves have turned and the air gets chilly, but TJ's releases these things in September, and we've got to strike while the iron is hot. Also, we're reviewing this sooner than later for the benefit of you readers. Knowing Trader Joe's, they'll be sold out next week, and they'll discontinue the product forever, and you'll be pulling your hair out, shopping for it on eBay at some obscene markup. I mean, hopefully, that won't happen, but if you're a fan of candy corn and/or caramel corn, I wouldn't take the chance...

Because this stuff is pretty yummy. It does, in fact, taste like candy corn. I think it tastes like caramel corn, too. But it's a very high-quality kind of caramel corn. It's on par with the Pumpkin Spice Caramel Corn we checked out just about exactly two years ago. I'm not even particularly fond of regular caramel corn. Never have been. But fancy, flavored, gimmicky, sexy, newfangled caramel corn? Yes, please.

As far as candy corn is concerned—as a kid, I was obsessed with it. I waited all year for those waxy, triangular sugar drops, and I'd inhale as much as my parents would allow during the season. I'd pray for lots of little bags of it during trick or treating, and they were among the first of the confections devoured on Halloween night. 

Sonia? Not so much. She thinks candy corn is kinda gross. But she still enjoyed this product because, in her words, "the candy corn presence is subtle." I see where she's coming from. It's not really an overpowering flavor. Candy corn haters may enjoy it despite an aversion to classic candy corn.

On the texture front, we're looking at nice, big, whole, popped corn kernels. They're fresh and crunchy. They'd be fluffy white if not coated in that slightly waxy, firm, sugary glaze. There are three colors in the bag: yellow, orange, and clear. I wouldn't have minded if they were three different flavors...but I guess that wouldn't be true to the candy corn theme.

It's a nice combination of two classic junk foods. It's a little addictive, too. Two people just might polish off the bag in one sitting. $1.99 for 5 oz. If I were rich, I'd hand out whole bags of this to the trick or treaters.

If your local store is sold out before your next TJ's run, you could always try melting a bunch of candy corns in the microwave and then dumping them over a bowl of popcorn, but I doubt it would turn out this well. Double fours for this product.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10.

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