It seems high time I review Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s. After Trader Joe’s introduced us to the Joe Joe all over again with their amazing, new Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter, it seems like the perfect time to examine the Joe-Joe itself a little more deeply.
Joe-Joe’s are, simply put, the Trader Joe’s version of Oreos. Never seeing a popular product that they didn’t think they could do themselves, both cheaper and better, TJ’s has bypassed Nabisco and stocked their shelves with their own take on the iconic black and white, frosting-filled cookie. It’s these cocoa and vanilla crème cookies that have been blended down into a mind-melting emollient in the super delicious Cookie and Creme Cookie Butter, but Trader Joe’s hasn’t limited their cookie palette to just one type.
Just as the Nabisco Oreo has boldly gone off in new, sometimes insane, flavor directions with their cookie (trying out such elaborate concoctions as Birthday Cake Oreos, Root Beer Float Oreos, Watermelon Oreos, and even Cookie Dough Oreos), Trader Joe’s has sought to follow suit – bringing to the table a diverse, although more limited, selection that includes Peppermint, Chocolate Creme, Vanilla Sandwich, and more. This being the time of Pumpkin Madness, Trader Joe’s has of course engineered a brand new, entirely seasonal variety – the pumpkin Joe Joe.
The Pumpkin Joe-Joe is both what you’re expecting and not what you’re expecting. Based on the box art I assumed this was going to be a variation on the Vanilla Sandwich variety – vanilla cookies on the outside, with some sort of vaguely pumpkin-y icing on the inside. I, once again, was underestimating TJ’s devotion to pumpkin. While the filling is, indeed, average and pumpkin flavored so are the cookies. The whole thing, top to bottom, is one pumpkin flavored cookie ready to meet all your pumpkin-flavored cookie needs. Of course, that need for pumpkin-flavored cookies is small and fleeting, so one box of these will probably do you about right, assuming that you feel any such need at all.
I for one, certainly didn’t. While I applaud Trader Joe’s continued efforts to jam pumpkin into life’s every nook and cranny, there are some times it works out beautifully, and some times you just have to shrug. The pumpkin flavored Joe-Joes fall into the later camp. Joe-Joe cookies are creamy, crunchy and delicious. It could even be argued they’re superior to the Oreo cookie itself. On that grounds there’s no reason to turn these down – on the other hand, these cookies scratch exactly one itch, and that’s idle novelty. The pumpkin is there in an after-the-fact sort of way. When you bite in you’ll taste a sort of fairly sweet, cinnamon/nutmeg spiciness, which is quite nice. There is a hint of pumpkin taste that lingers in the bite, then you swallow and it’s gone. Gone, but not forgotten. Pumpkin has that magic sort of touch that lingers in the mouth long after the swallow and it’s in full force here. Once the cookie is gone, and the stronger, sugary tastes have vanished, the aftertaste of pumpkin emerges from hiding, declaring “Yes, you ate something with pumpkin in it.”
It’s not a bad trick, really, and if you’re planning to have people over for a harvest party or throwing a Halloween get together for your class, these will be kind of cool to have out. They’re reasonably good, but they’re not replacements for the classic variety. Will you miss them when they’re gone? No more than the Watermelon Oreo’s, I would imagine.
The real value of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s, as far as I’m concerned is the box art. I believe this may provide a window into Trader Joe’s Pumpkin fevered mind. On one side of the box, we’re presented with a perspective-less landscape, irregular pumpkin shapes ominously crowding the foreground. Amongst these, three of the pumpkins have strangely “turned into” Joe-Joe cookies, still featuring their pumpkin stems and unchanged in size. Is it possible this is how Trader Joe’s fevered pumpkin-geneers see the world? Do food objects occasionally waver before their eyes, super-imposing themselves on top of pumpkins, like the vision of a starving man in a Bugs Bunny cartoon?
On closer inspection, the land which the scene takes place on also appears unusual. Huge, round, orange hills with long striations extend one past another, blotting out the horizon – as if the land itself was reduced to pumpkins, the world nothing but one endless, ever-mounting series of incomprehensible pumpkins.
The other side of the box is much more disturbing, and exceeds my ability to fully analyze. We’re presented, jarringly, with a flattened, distended pickup truck. It too is dwarfed by the many pumpkins that crowd the image – including three massive towering pumpkins that overflow the truck itself, dwarfing it with their inexplicable size. This is to be expected from Trader Joe’s pumpkin psychosis – but the truck is not so easily understood. One headlight is blank, the other ringed by concentric circles, like two wildly staring eyes. The truck seems to almost have one of those cartoon car faces – a nose, eyes, a mouth – except twisted and disturbing. The blank eyes point directly at the viewer from the trucks “face”, its huge, broken, irregular grill spread into a wide deranged grin. It brings you the pumpkins. It brings you the huge, alien pumpkins whether you want them or not. It brings you the pumpkins, regardless of its own will, regardless of any will but the pumpkins own, driverlessly bearing down on you from the hill side. It brings you pumpkins, from the heart of madness – pumpkins, pumpkins, PUMPKINS!
Happy Halloween everyone!
Hold the goddamn presses, ladies and gentlemen. We may be in the very height of pumpkin season, the most exciting time of the year of the Trader Joe’s product reviewer, but we’ve got to forget about all that for a minute. Novel pumpkin products are all well and good, but Trader Joe’s has just released something of national importance. I’m speaking, of course, of Trader Joe’s new Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter. It is, not to mince words, Cookie Butter made from Oreos.
Yes, Oreos. Oreo cookie butter.
I understand if you need another minute to grapple with this fact. Take your time. Breathe.
Look guys – look. I’ve occasionally accused Trader Joe’s of screwing around, hinted that maybe they don’t always know what they’re doing. I take all that back, because this is a masterstroke. Needless to say, it is almost terrifyingly delicious.
The orignal Cookie Butter, precious Speculoos Cookie Butter, our lord and savior, has always been great. It’s been there for us in thick and thin, when times are tough as in times of bounty. Its creation objectively improved the state of affairs in the world, and its creator should be enshrined upon her death – but for all that, it always seemed to me like it peaked too early.
There was never any other place to go with the original cookie butter, regardless of how Trader Joe’s tried, and tried to improve upon what was already, it appeared to me, unimproveuponable. That was my folly, for while I was naysaying TJ’s efforts, I never in my wildest dreams realized there could be more types of cookie butter. That there was no reason to limit cookie butter just to the original, delicious speculoos cookie base, but to expand it to other types of cookies! To expand it to Oreos!! OREO COOKIE BUTTER!!!
This development is almost unbearable exciting for two reasons. One, it’s super, super delicious. It’s just so damn good. Eating Trader Joe’s Cookie and Creme Cookie Butter is like mainlining Oreos into your blood stream. Oreos or, as I should say, Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s. Joe Joe’s are, of course, the Trader Joe’s take on Oreos – identical to their forebearer in all ways except the name.
Trader Joe’s has taken these Joe Joe’s, and broken it down into a brand new type of cookie butter – or more correctly, a cookie butter and cream filling swirl. TJ tried this sort of cookie butter swirling before with Trader Joe’s attempted Cookie Butter and Nutella mixture. While in theory this sounded amazing, a couple issues with the flavors kept it form becoming a classic. Those problems are absent here, and the oreo cookies and oreo crème mixture works beautifully together.
The thick, black veins “cocoa” cookie butter tastes exactly like the dark and crunchy cookie part of oreo cookies – only better. Whatever process they were applying to the cinnamon-spiced speculoos cookies they simply applied to the chocolate cookie shell here, making a mostly smooth, slightly crunchy, delightful cookie spread. Everyone knows that the chocolate exterior of the oreo cookie is what you put up with in order to get to the delicious creamy center. What Trader Joe’s has succeeded in doing is taking the tasty essence of that chocolate cookie and distilling it to it’s simple, beautiful core. The resulting cookie butter gives you the strange but amazing sensation of eating a cookie without the chewing.
This amazing, chocolatey cookie butter is paired, naturally, with unbelievable pure stripes of the Joe Joe’s creamy, frosting filling. This filling does taste a little different from the filling you get in a standard joe-joe/oreo, but it’s hard to say why. The creamy filling here is much softer than what you find in the cookie form, and there is much more of it. If anything, it tastes better than it does in ordinary cookie form.
I’ve often dreamed of getting a whole bag of oreo cookies, scraping out just the filling and eating it all at once, but never dared to try lest the delicious taste drive me insane. Where I only dreamed, Trader Joe’s has acted, not only combining the creamy filling together in one place, but making it even gooier and creamier. This is literally a dream come true.
There is no down side to Trader Joe’s Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter – there is only the challenge it presents to your existence. How can you go on living a normal life, knowing this new product is in the world. Are any of the rationales that prop up your life strong enough to stand up against the idea of just sitting down and eating an entire jar of Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter with your bare hands? This is a non-trivial question, folks.
The biggest challenge, really, comes from trying to figure out what to do with this stuff. It’s very, very tasty, that’s true, but there isn’t really a decent way to cook with it. Even Trader Joe’s acknowldeges this on the side of the jar, listing three feeble ideas (dip pretzles in it?) before admitting that you can “eat it right out of the jar”. And really, that does seem to be the most enjoyable thing to do with this cookie butter – aside from possible covering your nude body with it and plunging into an unimaginably hedonistic orgy. This cookie butter is less a condiment than it is a confection in a jar. It’s like an advanced form of super cookie that, nevertheless, fills the exact same space in your life that regular cookies do – enjoyable moments of indulgent snacking. Cookie butter just does it more efficiently
This brings us to the big question – is Trader Joe’s Cookies and Creme Cookie Butter better than Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter? It’s a serious quandary, and one that I’ve considered carefully over many spoonfuls of both these spreads. In my considered opinion, the original cookie butter is still best. While the cookies and creme cookie butter is amazing, and delicous and wonderful, it’s almost overwhelming sweet. In the long run, when eaten directly, it tends to be a bit one note compared to the somewhat more nuanced speculoos cookie butter. In the absence of any real recipes to incorporate these amazing spreads into – if we’re simply eating them out of the jars with our fingers like elevated apes – the win goes to Speculoos Cookie Butter, where the remarkable sweetness is tempered by the more complex, spiced flavor of that classic Christmas cookie taste.
That said, so long as Trader Joe’s continues producing both there’s no reason to choose. Buy them both, and enjoy them in unguarded moments, gliding upon the clouds of heaven.
Would I Recommend It: YES!
Would I Buy It Again: YES! YES!!!
Final Synopsis: COOKIE BUTTER MADE FROM OREOS! BUY NOW!