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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Trader Joe's Chewy Marshmallow Bar

Rice Krispies are pretty much a disappointment cereal, right? I've never met anyone who could honestly say they legitimately enjoyed a bowl of them. I know I sure haven't. Sure, sure, there's the snap, crackle and pop thing that's kinda cool...but then what? Within moments you have little, soggy, limp, mushy and basically tasteless tidbits of toasted rice like substance. Even worse, if not rinsed out right after, the cereal gets cemented into your bowl as it dries, which means depending on my stage of life my mom or my wife would yell at me for it. You'd think I'd learn.

Nah, the only legit reason to buy Rice Krispies is to make Rice Krispie treats. Now those are good, and an all time classic. So simple to do. So delicious.

Which, by the way, I'd recommend over buying Trader Joe's Chewy Marshmallow Bar.

Don't get me wrong, I actually enjoyed this new "gotcha, made ya buy" treat from TJ's. If you want one, or just need a quick snack to keep yourself from going hungry or to placate the kiddos mid-shopping trip, there's no reason not to buy it. Homemade ones are better is all I'm saying.

The taste is all there. It's not like there's much to really mess up or experiment with here - it's toasted rice and marshmallows. If somehow you don't know what this combo tastes like, you've lived a very different life than probably 99.9% of people reading this. I've got nothing else to add here.

It's really more in the feel, I think. Most homemade variations are tightly packed, dense chunks, at least in my experience. Not so here. Once out of the package the marshmallow bar gets droopy and bendy, and the overall feel is pretty light. Also, there's full (or close to full) mini marshmallows interspersed throughout the bar. Some might find this texturally challenging. I didn't particularly but I also prefer a firmer treat.

Others have said this confection is much like a "Dream Bar" or something of the sort from Starbucks. Haven't had one - we don't frequent Starbucks as I consider them "emergency caffeination only" - but perhaps one of you can chime in to state how apt that comparison may be. 

It's a $1.49 each for this TJ's chewy bar, which strikes me neither a great deal nor as a ripoff. They're big enough that Sandy and I split one, and our kids split the other without complaint. I'm neither disappointed nor overwhelmed so I'll just say a three while Sandy chimes in with a little higher.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chewy Marshmallow Bar: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Friday, June 7, 2019

Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Mini Pretzels

Seems like TJ's has had chocolate covered pretzels on their shelves for basically always. I can't remember a time they haven't been there. And yet, I don't think we've ever purchased them. Not the plain old milk chocolate covered ones, anyway. 

But now, they're in a fancy new resealable bag, they're featured prominently on under "What's New," and TJ's is begging us to taste them again...for the first time, or something like that.

So we did.

No cookie butter filling. No exotic foreign confectionery coating. No hazelnut sprinkles. Just pretzels and chocolate. And some newfangled packaging.

I've always liked chocolate covered pretzels, and these are no exception. They taste exactly as I remember them. Salty, sweet, bready. The chocolate is still smooth and the pretzels are still crunchy. They still dot your fingertips with little brown splotches if it's warm outside, and they're still just a tad too firm when it's cold out—or if you store them in the fridge rather than the pantry. 

They're so run-of-the-mill, I'm really at a loss what to write about them. There's absolutely nothing new or innovative about these tasty tidbits, but it's also nice to know they didn't screw them up, either.

I have this memory from very early childhood. It was probably the first time I'd ever had a chocolate covered pretzel. It was evening and the sky was dark. There were two elderly ladies that babysat me frequently in those days, and I was in their apartment on Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, PA. No lie. There's a Chocolate Ave there. Cocoa Ave, too. Anyway, they had this little apartment in downtown Hershey, and I spent a lot of time there. At this point, I couldn't have been older than three or four years old. I remember eating a chocolate pretzel they gave me—my parents wouldn't allow me to have chocolate back in those days, but these two: Nana and Minnie—they'd let me live a little while in their care. The chocolate pretzel they gave me was so transcendently delicious, I remember being excited about life in a way that's very hard to capture now at nearly 40 years old. And then, as if the moment weren't special enough, I recall looking up into the night sky through their kitchen window and seeing a streak of light—I had no idea what it was at the time, but in retrospect, it must have been a shooting star. I don't think I've ever experienced a sense of awe greater than that instant, with the taste of chocolate pretzel dangling on my tongue. 

I don't eat chocolate pretzels all that often these days, but that night in the early 80's comes to mind almost every time I do, and for that reason, there will always be a special place in my heart for these tasty morsels. $3.49 for the 12 oz bag.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

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