Trader Joe’s Kale ChipsPosted: November 10, 2012
Kale – who really knows anything meaningful about this stuff. I, like most of humanity I suspect, don’t pay much attention to the seemingly countless varieties of leafy green veggies that basically just go on salads. I do know someone who does care though, who cares deeply – Trader Joe’s. These guys push the kale hard – they really believe in kale. Where most retailers in the world might go “Maybe let’s hold back on the kale, I’m not sure this is something the public is really hungry for,” Trader’s Joe’s says, “Screw it – we’re doing kale chips.”
Now, I know kale chips are no new thing, and yes, you can find on the shelves of your Fresh and Easy and other idiosyncratic supermarkets, but the bold audacity of the TJ’s Kale Chips packaging, the outright assertiveness of the stuff, is what sets Trader Joe’s apart. How could I say no?
I could spend all day on the packaging honestly, a perplexing take on what it would be like if Superman was an air-crisped bowl of greens surmounted with the words “Meanwhile, zesty nacho…” This is, without a doubt, the least sensible thing I’ve ever read in a supermarket. TJ’s mad ad wizards were up late fabricating this head-scratcher, I’m sure. Presumably the kale-comic book mashup was the brain child of the same guy who thought up combining tropical islands and supermarkets.
The problem is that with all the set up, the overly free use of the adjective “super-duper”, the literal word “POW!” emblazoned on the front, etc, you can’t help but be disappointed by the drab, flaky, crusted up leaves you find inside. If it were up to me, I’d have stuck these in a nondescript, brown paper bag with the word “Kale chips” stenciled bleakly on the side and maybe a dreary man’s face staring listlessly out at you. Then at least the contents would look fun and exciting by comparison. As it stands, the kale chips resemble the packaging, and in particular the actual image of the chips on the front, as little as possible. They are dark olive drab instead of the depicted perky, spring green and rather than getting the crisp, individually differentiated chips I was promised I found leaves caked together in patties, or flaked across the bottom of the bag, more or less like fish food.
As for taste, well, there are two school of thought here. Let’s suppose you are on a serious diet, not an I-feel-chubby-I’m-cutting-back-on-the-chocolate diet, but real, I-don’t-fit-into-my-wedding-dress-and-the-ceremony-is-in-a-month diet. A serious diet. If you’re eating nothing but blocks of tofu and steamed broccoli I can see these “alternatives to traditional chips” being a delightful indulgence, and the hint of cheese-free crud crusted on them probably tastes like real nacho cheese. Such is the madness of a serious diet.
If, however, you live in the ordinary, lack-a-day world where Doritos and their ilk are cheap, plentiful and an occasionally justifiable snack, these bland, plant-y tasting flakes aren’t really worth the brittle, crumbly hassle – or the price tag.
A final tone – although billed as a chip alternative, compare these guys to a serving of Santitas Tortilla Chips (the ones in the ubiquitous yellow bag).
Trader Joe’s Kale Chips Santitas Tortilla Chips
Regular chips have less calories, less fat, and a carb difference which, though notable, is far from enough to make up for resorting to the much less satisfying, harder to eat kale chips.
Would I Recommend Them: Only to dieters who are starting to lose it.
Would I Buy Them Again: Never.
Final Synopsis: An ineffectual, not-quite tasty alternative to chips.