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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch

In my neighborhood growing up, every couple years, PENNDOT would oil and chip all the street tops. It'd drive everyone in my family crazy. For me and my siblings, it was so much harder to bike on, and when your biggest source of income was an after-school paper route for which you needed to bike, it made for the rough juvenile equivalent of a hard day at the office. For my parents, it'd ding up the bottom of the cars and set my dad off on an occasional "this crap is what they do with my taxes??" rant (usually mild around us kids)...but I could tell it was just one more thing to aggravate the living heck out of them. As a parent now myself, I can understand it - one added thing atop of work, family, bills, taxes, whatever else. It'd set me off too.

Wait a minute delivering newspapers after school? Did I just date myself? I'm only in my mid-thirties I swear.

Anyways, oil and chips...kinda like Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch.

No, no, I'm not suggesting this newish product tastes like asphalt. Indeed, it's infinitely more suitable for a potluck rather than a pothole.

Just open it though. There's a huge pool of olive oil at the top. Stir it up, and you can hear all the crunchy tidbits swirling around. Crunchunchunchcrunch. It's absolutely audible, in some sort of edible slurry concoction. Dried onions. Dried garlic. More dried onions. Dried peppers. All literally swimming in oil in still crunchified state.

Needless to say, this is some oily, gritty stuff. I can absolutely see this being a textural stumbling block for some people. Sandy and I plopped some atop some grill-toasted baguette and it worked well as the bread sopped up the oil a bit leaving only the crunchers. Could work tossed in with some veggies or on some grilled chicken or pork, too. But something like eggs? No way, at least not in my book. Gritty eggs. Blecch.

And taste? Ehhh. The chili onion crunch got a little heat, that's for sure. It's more palpable if you get a heavy dose. But really, what the dominant flavor seems to be is the garlic. And it's not necessarily good garlic either, depending on your criteria. Karen, our favorite local TJ's employee, warned it was garlicky but "not in a good way" and I can see what she means. Garlic can either be strong and robust, or kinda "musty" for a lack of better word. This stuff strays towards the garlic stank and not the garlic strength. Any other flavor kinda fills in a little bit to give a little body to lead up towards the heat.

In the end, I think this could be one of those "a little goes a long way" type items. Add a little atop a burger, on some bread, mixed in with some grilled veggies or whatever, but just enough to get a little added flavor, and not enough to turn your dish into an oily, gritty, garlic-stanked dish. We'll use it for sure but I'm not yet convinced it's a repurchase. Set us back about $3 if I recall right.

Four spoons from the Mrs - she loved it more than I did. I'll be nice and give it a 3.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chili Onion Crunch: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, July 1, 2019

Trader Joe's Organic Carrots of Many Colors

The grape carrots are my favorite, followed closely by the lemon carrots and cherry carrots.

I'm just kidding. There's only one flavor here: carrot. Carrot-flavored carrots are all the rage in some modern snacking circles, or so I've heard. This new Trader Joe's product is sure to be a hit with those folks.

For the rest of us, I'm not so sure.

The colors seem like a fun gimmick to get kids to eat more carrots. I know purple carrots exist naturally, and so do orange, yellow, and red. It's not like they added any extra colors here, which is always nice. In fact, they only added sea salt. Nothing else. Plus, they're organic. Unless you're on a salt-free diet, not many complaints can be filed in the "not healthy enough" department.

Texture-wise, they're super crunchy, crispy, brittle. Almost reminiscent of potato chips, they're just ever so slightly more airy...almost poofy in a way. There's a styrofoam quality about them. Sonia thinks they're exceedingly dry—like, unpleasantly devoid of moisture. I think they were kinda going for a dry feel when they decided to dehydrate the carrots, so...yeah. Dry. But that's not a dealbreaker for me.

The taste was less pleasant than the texture for me. And yes, I know what carrots taste like. But something happens to the flavor when they're dehydrated. I feel like that carroty flavor that we've all come to know and tolerate becomes a little more bitter than I'd like it to be. These carrot chips are even more planty and perhaps less sweet than they are in their normal, water-ful form. Also, they don't taste very salty at all. 310mg of sodium in the whole bag. 13% of your RDA. I guess that's not much salt. But it tastes even less salty than I was expecting. 

Sonia thinks they might lose some of their natural sugar when they're dehydrated, and I think she might be right on that one. $2.99 for the single serving bag, which could be stretched to more than one serving if you're sharing the bag with someone else and both of you are only moderately enjoying them and attempting to pawn the remainder of the bag off on the other. We both prefer raw carrots in the end.

Once again, three stars a piece.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

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