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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Trader Joe's Magnifisauce

In addition to chatter about GME, NOK, and AMC "stonks," the death of Dustin Diamond (RIP Screech) and Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow, the interwebs are ablaze with news and opinions about this ostentatiously-packaged new condiment from Trader Joe's. Some are saying it's just Thousand Island dressing. Some are saying it's the next big thing. Some are angry that "canola oil" is the number one ingredient. Some are saying they'd drink it straight from the bottle. Inquiring minds want to know: is it worth the hype?

Ever since 1980's McDonald's commercials sang about "special sauce" in their Big Mac burgers, Americans have had an obsession with special or "secret" sauces. Oooh. Everybody loves a secret, right? Soon places like Burger King would follow suit with the Big King, and although I wasn't exposed to them until many years later, In-N-Out on the west coast would slather their burgers and animal style fries with a mysterious pinkish dressing that astounded and allured the masses.

I'm not sure why, but myself, my family, and my circle of friends didn't figure out that these clandestine condiments were simply a mixture of other more common toppings like relish, ketchup, and mayonnaise, with a few spices thrown into the mix, until many years after we'd first partook of the secretive salsa in our fast food burgers. Are we a bit slow? Perhaps. But at least now the cat's out of the bag. All special sauces are basically conglomerations of other less exotic constituent parts. So is the $2.99 squeeze bottle of Magnifisauce really that magnificent?

Yes and no. The convenience factor is high. I don't think I've ever seen special sauce sold as special sauce before, and certainly not in such a handy package. It's shelf stable until it's opened, and it's best if used within 90 days. 

Sonia and I don't eat hamburgers all that often, but we'll be able to finish this sauce as a dip for appetizers like French fries and onion rings. Make no mistake, it's pretty tasty when eaten as the main condiment on a traditional burger. We got a couple of patty melts from the bar and grill restaurant down the street yesterday, took them home, broke out this sauce, and were pleasantly surprised with its taste. Flavor-wise, it really is basically just Thousand Island dressing with a good bit of pickle relish and some faint garlic and onion in the background. We both think it's a little thinner than mainstream fast food secret sauce, and by my estimation maybe just a tad sweeter.

I'm no food scientist, so you can tell me in the comments below why canola oil is good or bad. It's the base of this sauce. Most Trader Joe's products at least have the veneer of being healthy-esque. I'm not convinced either way, but even if canola oil is detrimental to my health, I won't be eating enough of this stuff for it to kill me. Like I said, we'll finish this bottle over the next few months. After that, not sure if I'd re-purchase except perhaps to take to a big party or neighborhood barbecue type gathering where lots of burgers will be eaten all at once. I wish I could join the ranks of either the Magnifisauce zealots or even the haters, but alas, I'm a moderate and a centrist at heart, even when it comes to condiments. Call me a milquetoast fencesitter if you must. You wouldn't be wrong. Three stars from me.

The wifey will be slightly more pro-Magnifisauce and throw out four stars.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Trader Joe's Almond Butter Almonds

There's so many phrases and words out there that, for whatever reason, really grind my gears. The following isn't a complete list of such phrases I've heard used so often and thrown around carelessly I think I'd rather be smacked by .a two by four than hear them again

"Now more than ever..."

"New normal."

"Social distancing."

Generally calling someone a Karen. Called for sometimes? Sure. All the time....nah. Does that make me a Terry or Kevin or whatever the male name equivalent is?

And most pertinently to this review of Trader Joe's Almond Butter Almonds..."double down/ed/ing."

Ugh to all of them. 

Except the Almond Butter Almonds! They're delicious!!!!1!

You see, I could say TJ's DOUBLED DOWNED on all things almondy and tasty here to make a rather tasty, somewhat redundantly flavored snack. I could...but no. Doesn't sound right.

There's a fairly straightforward concept here. Get an almond butter-flavored candy-esque coating and slather on some salted roasted almonds, and that's about it. And fabulous, because almonds by themselves are pretty mundane. But here, add that nut butter shell and they became magical. Think of something akin to a yogurt covered almond, except maybe a tad softer and mealier (it is almond butter, after all) and that's about what thee nuts crunch and munch like. The little bit of salt and toasted crunch of the almond core really help to hold up and support the outer layers, which remained remarkably intact all the way from factory to distributor to store to home to belly. The result is undeniably snacky, and something that feels like a little guilty pleasure. We love 'em. 

Good nuts, good stuff. And a good price too - I think these were maybe $4 for the bag? Wasn't anything major, Just a small handful or two was more than enough to put a major dent in any hangry tummy rumbles. Because of that, earlier today we finally finished off our one bag I bought...I guess maybe next time in the store, I'll have to say to myself "Self, now more than ever, we need to make it the new normal to double down on our purchases here, lest you lovely bride decides to become a Karen and socially distance you for your transgression." Or something to that general effect. Nothing down from the Mrs or I, the almond butter almonds are a double win in our books with double fours. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Almond Butter Almonds: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


Friday, January 29, 2021

Trader Joe's Sparkling Honeycrisp Apple Juice Beverage

When I lived in Hollyweird, California, I worked right next door to the historic Egyptian Theatre. A couple friends I knew from back east were headed there to watch a screening of a film called The Apple, so I decided to check it out with them. At the time, I'd never heard of it. Apparently, it's a cult classic, a la Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's at least as weird as Rocky Horror and maybe half as watchable. The theater was filled with costumed fanatics of the 1980 production, along with the already colorful denizens of Hollywood Boulevard. It would be a night to remember.

You have to really be in the mood to watch something laughably awful if you want to try to sit through The Apple. It takes place in the super futuristic year of 1994 and involves outlandish outfits and absurd musical sing-alongs. The interactive freak show at The Egyptian helped me stay awake through the entire 92 minutes of the film, and fortunately, I managed to leave the theater with only moderately damp clothes and most of my dignity still intact.

At the time, we were able to bring our own refreshments into the venue. I don't remember what I brought, but if I'd have had any of these little cans of pure delight on hand, I'd have definitely put a couple in my cargo pockets and sipped on them throughout the movie—both because they would have fit with the whole "apple" theme...and because they're scrumptious.

Although we've seen some outstanding honeycrisp cider from Trader Joe's in the past, these little beauties are honeycrisp juice mixed with carbonated water. Although "carbon dioxide" and "water" are separated in the ingredients list for some reason, there are essentially only two ingredients to this beverage. And that's all it needs.

The sweetness level is tempered by the water, which you might expect, but the beverage is still satisfyingly sweet. It's light and refreshing as can be. This product is reminiscent of Martinelli's Sparkling Apple Juice, but it comes in single serving cans rather than bottles. We didn't apply our mixological inclinations to this beverage on this go around, but I'm guessing it would make a killer appletini with some apple bourbon and vodka.

At $3.99, it's just about exactly a dollar per can, with exactly 100 calories per can. We highly recommend picking up a box when it returns in the fall. Four and a half stars from Sonia. Four from me.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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