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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Trader Joe's Donut Bites

From across the aisle, it beckoned. I was solely aiming for some frozen chicken when it's bright cheery blue neon packaging called out, an irresistable siren. "It's just not fair," I exclaimed to the nice woman stocking the frozen goods case nearby. "You all need to stop doing this." We laughed, smiled, and shared a nod of understanding.

The cashier smiled, grinned and exclaimed, "Oh boy? When did we get these?!??!?! Where are they?" Promptly after checking out my cart, off he ran, undoubtedly an impromptu sample party on his mind.

The wife cheered. The kids surprisngly got a lot more interested in eating their dinner in a timely fashion. Even their spinach, of all things. And me? I felt warm and happy inside. Anticipation for something good is a healthy drug.

What singular thing could possibly elicit all these responses? None other a brand new box of Trader Joe's Donut Bites. Donuts! Who can hate on donuts!?!!?!? Everyone loves them! At $2.99 for a boxed dozen, it's a no-brainer buy. I mean, just look at them on the package...flaky sugar atop warm sofy doughy donut with some sweet 'n tart raspberry jam oozing out...good luck resisting that.

Well, I will be going forward.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news...but this isn't close to being a particularly good product. It's enough that I really wonder how anyone can mess up a donut so bad.

First of all, look at them, straight out of the oven. It's a nondescript semi-leaky doughball. Looks nothing like the package. Second, who bakes a donut, really? Third, the donut dough tastes alright and has an okay feel to it....but it's more bready than an actual donut should be. Which makes no sense, but it doesn't have the donut feel or taste at all. And fourth...the jam. A good filling could salvage a lot here. Nope. It's more red pectin ooze than anything. No sugariness. No tart as one would expect from a raspberry. The jelly's almost completely devoid of flavor by itself.

It's hard to be let down by anything claiming to be a donut, but here we are. The kids were just happy to have something with sugar, and they devoured enough spinach to earn them that they were going to enjoy this supposed treat no matter what. Sandy and I are both thoroughly not impressed. The bites are just so bland. There's the smallest of comfort vibe coming from these bites (presumably because warmed and carb-y equals comfort) but it's about the only thing going for them. These are not going to be a repeat purchase as they're not worthy of the premature hype we ascribed to them. We're going pretty low here...

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Donut Bites: 3.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Trader Joe's Vegan Banana Bread with Walnuts

It's always amazed me that veggies like zucchini, carrots, rhubarb, and even pumpkins can provide the base for delicious desserts. Zucchini bread, carrot cake, pumpkin pie, and rhubarb pie? Heck yes. But prior to sampling each of those goodies, my intuition told me to steer clear. I was wrong. Hey, it happens to the best of us.

Bananas on the other hand? That's just a no-brainer. Of course they would make taste-tastic treats. They're already sweet, they have an almost bread-like consistency, and they're super malleable. Since it lacks the intimidation factor of vegetable-based desserts, I've been sampling and praising banana bread from my earliest days—so the bar has been set pretty high.

This offering is obviously vegan, which means no eggs or dairy—and in our opinion, as non-vegans, this product doesn't suffer at all for want of animal products. It's soft, slightly sweet, and has a nice bready, banana-y flavor. The walnuts add a pleasant touch, although, there could be a few more of them. It might have required some kind of refrigeration, but I wouldn't have minded some real banana chunks scattered throughout the loaf.

All in all, it's comparable to most other shelf-stable, pre-packaged banana breads I've had. It's no competition for homemade or fresh-baked, but it's a pretty impressive accomplishment considering the lack of animal-based elements. This is one of the tastiest vegan desserts I've had in recent memory, and at about $4, it's worth a whirl whether you follow a vegan diet or not.

Sonia would have liked to see this product go the alternative grain route. Unbleached, enriched wheat flour is so...commonplace and humdrum, even if you don't have celiac issues. Since this bread is already flirting with that "healthier alternative" vibe, we wouldn't have minded a gluten-free offering here. Maybe in the future. I often find rice-based flours taste better to me anyway, so I'd almost always pick the non-gluten offering if it were available.

All things considered, this is still a thumbs up from both Sonia and I. Four stars from her. Three and a half from me.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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