Trader Joe’s Snacks: Delightful or Downright Disgusting? Volume II


Eat This, Not That

With AP exams over and finals season coming to a close, two things are imminently upon us: firstly, summer. But, more importantly, a new slew of Trader Joe’s snacks. As two self-proclaimed Trader Joe’s experts, we thought it was only right to mark the start of the new season with a review of the new snack season – let’s begin.

Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels
Honesty is key, and so we’ll be straightforward with this one: we knew, the minute we picked these pearl-shaped treats off the shelf, that they’d be good, maybe even great. We knew, in the pursuit of transparency, that a rating under 7 or over 9 stars was highly unlikely. And, call it predestination, call it fate, call it clairvoyance, but our suspicions held true. These butterscotch bites were delightful, with small pockets of sweet, non-sticky caramel-butterscotch fusion coated in slightly bitter chocolate. The sea salt topping neither stole the spotlight nor missed its cue, perfectly accenting the balanced snack. These bites are perfect for when you want a sweet treat but don’t want anything too rich, as they provide the dopamine kick you desire without requiring water to wash the taste down. We’re not shocked by any of this, and there’s no world in which these make the top ten list for best sweet treats. But top 20? It’s within reason. We give Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels an 8/10.

Mini (Almost) Everything Bagel Sandwich Crackers with cream cheese filling
We’re slightly at a loss of words for how to start on this one. Seeing as Traders has become notorious for its Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, one would anticipate these crackers to be the best new snack to hit the market this season. However, one would be wrong. Upon the first cracker, the immediate taste is incredibly underwhelming and causes the eater to wonder if they actually are eating an everything bagel cracker sandwich with a cream cheese filling as advertised. Though the first bite just tastes like a semi-sweet cracker, the following bites will all differ in their respective amounts of cream cheesy taste, making the whole snacking process slightly baffling. Though the packaging is, for lack of a better word, cute, and the little mini cracker sandwiches are fun to eat simply because they look like little mini sandwiches, this snack is an overall letdown for a Trader Joe’s creation that sparked such high expectations. We give Mini (Almost) Everything Bagel Sandwich Crackers with cream cheese filling a 3/10.

Organic Cacio de Pepe Puffs Cheese & Pepper Corn and Rice Snacks
In line with Trader Joe’s long-running tradition of rarely carrying non-Trader branded snacks, but rather, creating their own knockoffs, a new Pirate’s Booty spinoff hit the shelves with this cheese and pepper snack – and we’d dare say it’s better than the original. These chips, of a sort, are slightly more interesting than the regular name-brand versions, all the while maintaining the same dry crunch and cheesy flavor that makes the original so good. Despite pepper’s tendency to overpower whatever dish it’s part of, the black pepper is well portioned: you can immediately detect the flavoring based on one bite – or even sniff of the package. But, these cheesy, peppery, airy treats won’t make you sneeze or leave you begging for water. Moreso, they’ll leave you begging for just one more handful. We give Organic Cacio de Pepe Puffs Cheese & Pepper Corn and Rice Snacks an 8/10.

Sparkling White Tea with Pomegranate Juice Beverage
The sun is blinding as you push your sunglasses up your nose and come to a stop at a busy red light. As you wait for the light to change while the cool car’s AC blasts gently at your face, you reach beside you to grab the Trader Joe’s sparkling pomegranate white tea from the cup holder. You crack open the can’s lid and take a nice refreshing sip… And then you shrug your shoulders and realize that all of that build-up was for nothing. The fizzing drink has a far stronger smell than it does taste, and the sip you just took is comparable to that of a slightly more flavorful La Croix. You certainly aren’t disgusted, you appreciate that the design of the can is flattering to the eye, and you’ll likely finish the rest of the drink, but the new beverage won’t be making its way to your “must-buy” shopping list anytime soon. It is for these reasons that we give Sparkling White Tea with Pomegranate Juice Beverage a 5/10.

Chai Tea Mints
Nobody likes living in the shadow of an older, more famous, sibling; nobody wants to be the Pippa to the Kate Middleton, or the Alex to the Haley Dunphy. Along the same line, nobody wants to be the newly launched chai mint to the infamous, fan-favorite green tea mint; and for good reason. Where the latter is a sweet, well-balanced breath-cleanser that smells as good as it tastes, the former is an overpowering, cardamom-heavy “treat” that smells less chai, more pumpkin spice candle you pick up as you meander the sale section at Target and don’t buy. The idea is there for this mint – the matter is decreasing the intensity, for the mint as it currently stands is heavy, too much, leaving a sticky, almost nauseating taste on your tongue. We give Chai Tea Mints a 4/10.

Japanese Style Fried Rice
This item has been on the Trader Joe’s menu for years, so the chances of most people being unaware of its existence are hopefully pretty slim. But just to be safe, we figured we’d cover it anyway for those who have yet to be enlightened. The Japanese Style Fried Rice resides in the frozen section of Traders and is arguably one of the best freezer items to keep stocked for emergency meals. Poured in a pan with some oil on medium heat, this rice takes about seven minutes to make, requiring very minimal work or attention, but providing a delicious and filling meal in a pinch (or a great side to a meal). Pro-tip from someone who has made this rice an embarrassing amount of times: it’s even better with some soy sauce added to the pan as it continues to cook, and though it comes with carrot strips, edamame, and small pieces of fried tofu and hijiki seaweed, its flavor profile and nutritional value can be easily heightened by added veggies of your choice. We give Japanese Style Fried Rice a 7/10.