Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Yogurt – Maple Brown Sugar & Trader Joe’s Greek Whole Milk Yogurt – Chocolate MoussePosted: December 16, 2015
Trader Joe’s has never been afraid to “go there” – in terms of yogurt development and placement. Like most grocery stores they offer a virtual cornucopia of yogurt flavors, types, and fat content. Unlike most grocery stores, they’ve been known to put out holiday versions of their classic greek yogurt.
|What it is:||Greek yogurt in two new flavors.|
|Price:||$1.29 for an 8 oz. cup|
|Worth it:||Not really. Both new flavors are only mildly interesting.|
Last year we saw the debut of their Pumpkin Greek Yogurt over the October Pumpkin Madness. It must have worked well, because this year Trader Joe’s has debuted two new flavors for the winter holidays – Maple Brown Sugar, and Chocolate Mousse. Those might not be the flavors that come to mind when you first think “Christmas”, but that’s why we love Trader Joe’s isn’t it? They zig when everyone else is zagging.
Unlike the pumpkin Greek yogurt last of last fall, these two new flavors are whole milk, full fat yogurts. 320 calories wait for you in each 8 oz tub, 12 grams of fat (7 grams of that saturated fat) and 37 grams of carbs.
3 gallons of milk go into 1 gallon of Greek yogurt, so this is the nutritional density you’re paying for – not to mention the whopping 16 grams of protein. If you eat both of these, you’ve basically had a pretty heft meal. So, are these novel yogurt flavors worth it?
What you certainly can expect is what you always get from a whole milk Greek yogurt – thick, smooth, velvety and thick again. A greek yogurt needs to be eaten slowly, regardless whether you enjoy the flavor or not.
The flavors, in this case, are intriguing, but not incredible. The Maple Brown Sugar Greek Yogurt has a wonderfully evocative name, but doesn’t taste particularly special. It’s a combination of real brown sugar and real maple syrup (naturally, this being Trader Joe’s). Sugar and syrup, however, even brown sugar and maple syrup, are just your basic sweeteners. Basic sweetness is about what you get out of them here. The more nuanced notes of the sugar and syrup are lost in the generally yogurtiness of the yogurt. However, the sweetness is a nice counterpoint to the considerable tang of the yogurt cultures. Overall, a nice, fatty yogurt.
The Chocolate Mousse Greek Yogurt is a more complex matter. Some time ago, I reviewed Trader Joe’s European-style chocolate yogurts, and found them intriguing and sophisticated, but ultimately a bit off-putting. This chocolate greek yogurt is a lot thicker than those little yogurt pots, but hte flavor is the same – tangy chocolate. If you can hold those two words together in your head at the same time and not shudder a little, then you will probably enjoy this yogurt. The chocolate flavor comes courtesy of cocoa powder touched up with some sugar and vanilla extract, and it’s done well. The chocolate is strong tasting, bold and verging on the bitterness of dark chocolate, but it comes paired with the strong, undeniable tang of active yogurt cultures. Tangy chocolate folks – it’s here again.
I love novelty, and for some reason I really love novel yogurt flavors, but these two yogurts left me underwhelmed. The Maple Brown Sugar was too generically sweet for me to buy again, and if I wanted to try chocolate yogurt again I’d go with the European versions that are still on the shelves.
I’m tempted to recommend these as a desert surrogate, but honestly if you have room in your dietary budget for 300 calories of sugar and fat, just eat a real chocolate mousse. Aside from that, I think only Greek yogurt fans in desperate need of a little variety can really justify making this purchase.
Would I Recommend Them: Only in the faintest of terms.
Would I Buy Them Again: Me? No.
Final Synopsis: Fatty yogurt available in a couple mildly interesting flavors.
Of everything that Trader Joe’s has attempted to cram pumpkin into, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Green Yogurt has surprised me the most. Pumpkin in waffles? There’s precedent for that. But pumpkin in yogurt? Any member of the squash family, really, has no place being blended into thick, protein laden yogurt. Of course we’re talking about the food engineers at Trader Joe’s labs who didn’t shy back from merging pizza and veggie burgers so it was unlikely their hand would be stayed here either.
To get right into it – pumpkin does not marry well to the tongue-enveloping cloak of greek yogurt. I like pumpkin as much as the next man, and I’m certainly a lover of greek yogurt, but they simply do not play well together here.
Let’s start with the first issue – what does pumpkin really taste like? The squash family as a whole isn’t known for overwhelming people with blasts of flavor. While pumpkin does have it’s own sort of mild, intriguing charm it isn’t really a natural candidate to jazz up plain, unflavored yogurt in the same way that, say, strawberries and pineapple are. What people generally respond to, when you’re talking about pumpkin are the spices and sugar that get mixed in with it – pumpkin pie, more than pumpkin.
Trader Joe’s tries very hard to deliver this – in addition to the pureed pumpkin (the second ingredient), they’ve also added nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. So really what we’re talking about is not pumpkin flavored greek yogurt, but pumpkin pie flavored greek yogurt. This doesn’t really seem like all that daunting of a task to deliver on – Yoplait manages to pull off a huge number of pie flavors in their yogurts, from Boston cream to lemon chiffon. But yoplait isn’t interested in delivering you a healthy, non-fat, greek yogurt like Trader Joe’s, and it’s in pursuing that course that TJ’s managed to trip themselves up.
This yogurt tastes, first, strongly of the slightly sour yogurt cultures you’d expect, then a bit of generic pumpkin spice, then very faintly of pumpkin. And that’s about it. None of the jazzy pep of the more flavorful, fruit variety yogurts you offer. Just a long, lingering, slightly sour taste in the mouth.It’s possible that if this were not a non-fat yogurt, if it had a richer, fuller body, there might have been more room for the pumpkin pie spices to play out, but that’s nothing but conjecture at this point.
I get it, Trader Joe’s, you love pumpkin! But let’s take a good look at just the non-fat greek yogurts you already offer – honey, mango, blueberry, vanilla, strawberry and pomegranate. Why are you adding pumpkin to the mix? To impress people with your boldness? What if you succeed and people buy it, just out of curiosity? Don’t you think it’s important that the yogurt tastes at least as good as your other yogurts? I’ve tried all of your other non-fat greek yogurts, and I can safely say this is the least enjoyable of them all. Worse than pomegranate, TJ, worse than pomegranate.
You know me, I’m all for boldness. I’m all for embracing the wild and unknown. But you also have to know when you’re challenging the status quo and when you’re just peeing into the wind. Trader Joe’s Greek Pumpkin Yogurt is, despite all their enthusiasm and good intentions, the latter.
Would I Recommend It: To no one but the pathologically motivated Trader Joe’s pumpkin perfectionist.
Would I Buy It Again: Not this year, not next year.
Final Synopsis: Non-fat greek yogurt is just one of those things that doesn’t need pumpkin in it.