Now that Thanksgiving is so far gone, it's about time we traded pumpkin spice for peppermint, no? At least, that's what it feels like happened overnight at Trader Joe's. I hit my favorite grocery store up on Black Friday while I was visiting my parents and the shelves were brimming with Christmas cookies and other seasonal snacks.
I tried five of Trader Joe's newest holiday treats — all of which I bought with Christmas morning breakfast and cozy nights by the fireplace in mind. Here's what I thought of each new item.
1. Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer, $2 for 16 ounces
Vegans and lactose-intolerants, rejoice! You can now catch some holiday cheer in your morning cup with the rest of us, thanks to the new Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer. I'm more of an alt-milk or no-milk kind of a person myself, so I was excited to see that there's a new holiday creamer I could try — not that I've looked hard, but most flavored options are usually regular milk-based, very pricey, or super artificial-tasting.
I put this out at my annual holiday brunch this past Sunday, and people were into it. One friend remarked that it "didn't taste like chemicals," which is clearly a good sign. A few people used it just for flavor in addition to regular 2 percent milk, which, I guess, I understand. The description on the store shelf label says it's "super creamy." But to me, it was more like adding a shot of peppermint-flavored syrup than milk to coffee, but I dug it all the same.
2. Peppermint Bark Popcorn, $3 for a six-ounce bag
TJ's has managed to take caramel corn and make it even more sugary, by putting dark chocolate and white chocolate peppermint coatings on top of it. And, actually, it's not half bad! You can't really taste the caramel because the candy-cane flavor overpowers that slight buttery-ness — but in a good way.
Not that aesthetics matter when it comes to snack food (if the popularity of Cheetos are any indicator), but the mottled, millennial pinkish-colored pieces would look pretty in a candy dish on your coffee table. The bag itself is kinda cute too.
3. Mini Peppermint Meringues, $2 for four ounces
If you don't like meringues in the first place, you're not going to be a fan of these. But everyone likes meringues, right? And these have a little bit more to offer, flavor-wise, than plain ol' vanilla ones. Not by much, though. I'd suggest using these as a pretty garnish on a cake or mixed into a cookie plate for a party.
4. Champagne Gummy Candies, $2 for six ounces
These candies are Trader Joe's answer to Sugarfina's oh-so-trendy rosé and Champagne bear gummies, and you know what? I'm not sure I could tell the difference in a blind taste test! Clearly, Sugarfina's are cuter and more giftable, but they're also more like $8.50 for four ounces — not $2 for 6 ounces!
If you're looking for something fun to just throw into a dish for a book club gathering or NYE party, buy a bag or two and call it a day. People aren't going to lose their minds over the way they taste, but the cute bottle shapes will get a comment or two. They did for me.
And finally, I bought one of these thinking, if I loved it I could back and get more to have on hand to pair with a mug as a holiday gift for a neighbor or something. (Hey, it's a good idea to have generic gifts on hand for when someone pulls out a present you weren't expecting!)
But I had my resident hot-chocolate connoisseur, my fiancé, try it. He said it was not good, despite the fact that we followed the directions exactly. I tried a sip, and he was right. It was a little chalky and lifeless, like Swiss Miss powder mixed with water. Skip it. I was glad I didn't grab a basket's worth before trying it.
Have you found anything recently at your local Trader Joe's that we should know about? Tell us in the comments below!