Trader Joe’s candy selection is just as interesting and varied as any of their other product selections. In the past we’ve looked at some of their intriguing chocolate offerings (some more successful than others), their honey mint patties, and even their mango gummies. However, out of all of the candies I’ve tried so far, Trader Joe’s new Ts & Js Sour Gummies have got to be my favorite.
|What it is:||Sweet and sour gummy candy.|
|Price:||$1.99 / 7 oz. bag|
|Worth it:||Yes. They’re like better Sour Patch Kids|
Sometimes you want something salty, sometimes you want something sweet, and sometimes you just want to pucker and grimace on something that will scour your taste buds with a coarse blast of citric acid. Trader Joe’s Sour Gummies is their answer to that masochistic desire for sour candy, and a marked upgrade on the only other contender for that slice of market space, the classic Sour Patch Kid.
What you get with these sour gummies is a 7 oz. bag of little letters “T” and “J” in four citrus flavors, dusted by rough grains of cane sugar. Sweet at first, for just a moment, the sugar quickly gives way to a single so-tart-you-love-it punch to the kisser. Trader Joe’s isn’t pulling the punches either – these little candies are every bit as sour as Sour Patch Kids, and then some. After a handful you’ll be ready to put them aside and give your mouth a break for a minute.
With four great flavors, you’ll actually enjoy the punishment. Unlike the vaguely differentiated “flavors” of Sour Patch Kids, Trader Joe’s actually delivers four distinct and interesting flavors – tangerine, Meyer lemon, key lime and grapefruit. Made with real fruit juice, you will be able to distinctly tell each little bite-sized letter apart by taste, if not by color. Best of the lot, in my opinion is grapefruit, which hits you with a kick of that unmistakably bitter grapefruit zest before giving way to the sweet gummy core.
Even better, these candies are vegan, kosher and all natural – right down to being colored by natural vegetable extracts. At only a $1.99 for a bag, what are you waiting for. Drop those Sour Patch Kids off at the orphanage and pick up some of these instead.
Would I Recommend It: Definitely, a great sweet and sour combo.
Would I Buy It Again: Yup.
Final Synopsis: Trader Joe’s Sour Patch Kids.
Your first impression, when you hear about Trader Joe’s new Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt, might be “That sounds gross.”
I’m proud to say that I’ve based this blog on the idea that sometimes even the most bizarre or outlandish sounding food products – even partially popped popcorn kernels or a red wine and milk chocolate drink, can astound and delight an eater who approaches the world with an open mind. Not this time though. Trader Joe’s new Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt looks and smells and tastes terrible. Just really awful.
Yeah, I know that probably doesn’t strike you as an astounding verdict or anything, so before I start systematically eviscerating this poor, hapless product I thought I’d take a moment to find some praise for it – faint though it may be.
Kudos – kudos I say! – to Trader Joe’s for not giving a good goddamn what anybody else in the world thinks. There was zero demand for a no fat, peanut butter and strawberry jelly flavored greek yogurt. Exactly zero people were standing around demanding this mash up of a soggy sandwich and a tasteless dairy culture, but someone at Trader Joe’s was sure as hell going to give it to us any way.
“Who the hell cares!” someone at TJ’s is probably bellowing even now, chomping on a cigar butt and gesticulating forcefully, “I said make some goddamn peanut butter and jelly flavored greek yogurt, and stock it on every store shelf nationwide!”
“Sir, the PB&J greek yogurt is a complete flop! No one is buying it!”, no doubt come the cries.
Anyone can play it safe. It’s the bold innovators who deserve the acclaim. Long may you thrive, Trader Joe’s!
That said, this yogurt is really dreadful. I really wanted to like it, even in the face of the atrocious sounding name, if for no other reason than the packaging is kind of cute. Sadly, the contents don’t live up to even this promise. Peanut butter and greek yogurt have similar textures, I had reasoned, maybe it’ll be rich and creamy and sweet and – nope. Nope, none of that. It’s not even peanut butter colored – just sort of a dismal gray.
Well, I thought, maybe the strawberry jelly is sort of included as a fruit-on-the-bottom type sweet surprise that – nope. Nope, no jelly on the bottom. Instead, the peanut butter and jelly flavors have blended into each other, along with the tart, plain greek yogurt. Shockingly, the ingredient label shows that real strawberries have actually gone into this. Shocking, I say, because they are impossible to discern in this undifferentiated gray mass – neither in texture nor taste.
The PB&J sandwich is an American classic. This yogurt tastes nothing like it – only the vaguest elements of peanut butter are detectable, and only the faintest taste of strawberries shows up. If you have ever soaked a PB&J sandwich in skim milk until it started to fall apart, then tried to eat it, that is pretty much exactly like what you are getting here. All you really end up tasting is a blur of tartness, muddled with hard to place indistinct flavors. It may only be $0.99, but even that is asking too much when Trader Joe’s offers such a wide range of far tastier nonfat greek yogurts.
I remember figuring out that mushing together everything in my lunch bag was a bad idea back in Elementary school. Trader Joe’s has done an excellent job of reminding me why.
Would I Recommend It: Nope.
Would I Buy It Again: Not unless I feel like wasting food.
Final Synopsis: Theoretically, a peanut butter and jelly infused greek yogurt. Practically, a gross, gray glob.
Holy cow – what? Trader Joe’s Rosemary and Thyme Maple Toffee Sunflower Seeds? Wait, Seriously?
Every time – every time – I see something like this from Trader Joe’s I think to myself, “We’ll this is it – Trader Joe’s has gone as crazy as they possibly can.” Surely we won’t be seeing anything as crazy as partially popped popcorn kernels again. Or fried broccoli. Or a BBQ rub made from coffee grounds. And yet here we are – holding a bag of sunflower seeds in our hands, sunflower seeds that have been seasoned with rosemary, thyme and maple syrup. That’s really what these are – no tricks. Here’s the product copy, straight from the website:
“We took great care with our supplier to balance the natural herb flavors of rosemary and thyme with salt. Next, the seasoned seeds are coated in a mixture of maple syrup and salted butter, just before they are fire-roasted in small batches.”
Look at that, just look at that – you can practically hear the desperation of the copy writer as he strains himself to sound casually breezy. The struggle as he tries to convey that this is just some toffee and rosemary and whatever, no big deal – while he knows perfectly well that he’s never once in his life even heard of anyone doing this to any food product, let alone sunflower seeds.
I don’t know – maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the one who’s gone crazy because I’ll tell you this much right now – these rosemary, thyme and toffee seeds are actually pretty good. Could a sane man dare utter that sentence? That very excellent question is beyond the scope of this blog post…all I can say right now is that Trader Joe’s is as skillful as they are brazenly daring. How else could you explain the delicately balanced mixture of spices, sugar and seeds that makes these snacks compulsively snackable?
I don’t know about you, but when I think rosemary I’m thinking, like, Rosemary Chicken levels of rosemary. BAM!-in-your-face, yup-that’s-rosemary, levels of rosemary. Trader Joe’s has been very careful not to give us that sort of rosemary here. There’s a bit more rosemary than salt on these seeds, but not by much. It’s just a hint of rosemary, along with an even more subdued touch of thyme, that you’ll taste behind the sweet and warm taste of crispy toffee.
If you think about these sunflower seeds as toffee-coated candied sunflower seeds, you’re on the right track. A handful of crunchy, sugary, maple toffee is what you’re going to mainly taste when you pop these in your mouth, followed by the familiar mildness of sunflower seeds, and only then will you notice the subtle but persistent touch of these two herbs, rosemary and thyme, which lingers long after the sweetness has faded. The seeds benefits from the light touch, and they’re easy to munch down, but in the end it’s still a strange taste that takes some getting used to.
Why Trader Joe’s even bothered to put rosemary and thyme in this mix at all, I don’t know. It seems like the logical move would’ve been to do something like cinnamon and nutmeg, or just to keep the herbs out of it all together. As it stands, this makes for a weird snack. Sweet and savory tastes rarely mesh well – and while these sunflower seeds are pretty good, the tastes ultimately clash more than harmonize.
Trader Joe’s has presented us with an intriguing new combination of flavors with these sunflower seeds, but it fails to make a persuasive case for its own existence.
Would I Recommend It: I wouldn’t – while they’re not bad, they’re probably too idiosyncratic to really catch on.
Would I Buy It Again: I really doubt it. They get points for daring though.
Final Synopsis: Candied sunflower seeds with just enough rosemary and thyme to make them weird.
Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn? Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn! Not only has TJ’s brought us a new product that sounds absolutely insane, but judging by the exclamation marks, they’re very excited to being doing so.
Trader Joe’s Partiall yPopped Popcorn is, astoundingly, exactly what it sounds like. Ever tried to pop a bag of popcorn in a microwave? You know htose partially popped kernles that are lawys left on the botto? That’s what this is. An entire bag of nothing but popcorn rejects. Essentially, Trader JOe’s has hit on the idea of selling you some of the trash you would normally throw out.
But wait. Is it trash? After all, who among us hasn’t found themselves idly trying to munch on some of the half-budded misfit kernels when all the good popcorn is gone. Is it true that not only have you tried to eat these kernels, but that maybe, every now and then, you have found one that was semi-popped in just the right way, formed just enought that it crunched beneath the teeth with an enjoyable, salty little crunch?
Friends and readers, I’m shocked to see myself write this, but Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn is not just good, but strangely addicting. –addicting in the weirdly compulsive way that leads you to repeatedly chawing on those partially cooked kernels in your own Pop Secret bag. The difference here is that the kernels in this bag are all precisely cooked as to be half-popped, fully roasted and pleasantly chompable, without any molar-busting, underdone seeds in the mix. The result is more like a roasted Corn Nut than anything else. They have about that same level of sturdy, hard-shelled integrity, that gives way to a crunchy, salty core after a brief moment of tense, inter-dental resistance.
A nutty crunchy, salty, snack – that’s what these really are at the bottom of it, despite their strange origins. Maybe Trader Joe’s isn’t peddling us their rejects, so much as they’ve discovered a previously untapped resource.
Would I Recommend Them: It’d be hard to, without being laughed at.
Would I Buy Them Again: Yeah, I would. I love Corn Nuts.
Final Synopsis: Basically smaller, off-brand Corn Nuts.
Okay, let’s get real here again – real about really delicious tortilla chips. Today’s delicious offering are the nuttiest chips you’re likely to find – nutty because they are chock full of organic seeds that make your chip’s crunch crunch. As the bag boldly proclaims – these chips are made with organic flax, hemp, poppy, caraway and chia seeds. That’s right, chia seeds aren’t just for growing afros on novelty porcelain busts anymore – they’re in your chips! Forming the substrate for the seeds you’ll find a mix of organic white corn flour and “expeller pressed” safflower / sunflower oil. Expeller pressing is simply a method of extracting oil from seeds and such by crushing the hell out of it in a big press, as opposed to the more efficient method of dousing it with poisonous chemicals (generally some sort derivative of crude oil derivitve). Healtheir? Arguably, but it definitely sounds better.
So this product gets full brownie points for being hippie-friendly as all get out, but are they good? In this case, the hippies win. The extra crunchy, nutty flavor the chips suits the tongue just right – a welcome change up to the entirely mundane plain tortilla chip. That said, these chips are as all-purpose and utilitarian as your ordinary sack of chips. The caraway seeds, organic or not, still pack that overpowering caraway flavor. Since you don’t taste one until you happen to crunch down right on it, it’s not a taste you can expect in every bite. Eat your salsa with these chips and every few bites it’ll taste like you’re eating salsa on rye bread. Limit these chips to heavier, savory tastes – hummus and guacamole.
Would I Recommend Them: Absolutely, but plan for the caraway seeds or you’ll be sorry.
Would I Buy Them Again: If I needed to casually impress a vegan.
Final Synopsis: Combine a good new taste with a clever pun and I’m sold every time.