The Most Popular Holiday Groceries at Trader Joe’s, According to Store Employees

updated Feb 24, 2021
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While it’s hard to get excited about the holiday season this year, there are a few things worth looking forward to — namely, the return of holiday-inspired seasonal items at Trader Joe’s. (Jingle Jangle, anyone?) While we’ve done our fair share of research on the subject, we felt extremely validated when we stumbled across the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, which gives listeners a glimpse into the favorite holiday items of TJ’s crew members and staffers. And all of those staffer favorites happen to be super-popular with customers, too … funny how that works!

The recent episode features the podcast’s hosts — Tara Miller and Matt Sloan — and Alison Nadler Guerette, TJ’s Category Manager for Candy, Cookies, and Cereal, or, as she describes it, “sugar and everything else.” Over the course of the episode, the trio makes a few phone calls to crew members at TJ’s across the country to discuss the very best groceries at Trader Joe’s to enjoy during the holidays. Here’s what topped everyone’s lists.

1. Sipping Chocolate

According to TJ’s crew member Leslie in Houson, TX, this European-style hot chocolate is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before. “It is just straight-up dark, rich chocolate. If you make it with a hot milk, it really becomes basically a cup of chocolate that you’re drinking.”

2. Hot Chocolate Sticks

“We have these really fun, Hot Chocolate Sticks that are awesome for kids,” says Leslie, who recommends buying these as stocking stuffers.

3. Rwanda Small Lot Coffee

If you’re picking up a coffee to go with your holiday breakfast, try this one. “It’s a lighter roast, but it’s very … full-bodied. It has a lot of interesting fruity notes to it. There’s a little bit of blueberry in there,” says Leslie.

4. Maple Espresso Tea

For any tea people in the house, Leslie highly recommends TJ’s Maple Espresso Tea. “I do love everything with maple,” she says. Who doesn’t this time of year?

5. Sparkling Rosé

Toni, another crew member in Houston, immediately sang the praises of TJ’s 1.5-liter bottles of Prosecco and rosé. “Oh my gosh. It’s big bottles of champagne …. and the new one, the big bottle of rosé. They’re so fun, but they’re going like hotcakes.”

6. Sugar Plum Sparkling Beverage.

For those who can’t have alcohol, Toni recommends the Sugar Plum Sparkling Beverage. “It’s great for kids, too … this is perfect — anything with bubbles.”

7. Dark Chocolate Shortbread Stars

Alison, whose job is literally to decide what candy and cookies Trader Joe’s carries nationwide, declared that these classics are one of her favorites. And Tara concurs: “That’s one of everybody’s favorites … year after year after year, people just love those cookies.”

8. Stroopwafels

Another all-time favorite for Alison are TJ’s holiday Stroopwafels. “During the holidays, we have the large ones in the cute tin. [They’re] great for your warm beverages — put them on top and that caramel gets all gooey.”

9. Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

A Trader Joe’s holiday item list would be nothing without mention of Candy Cane Joe Joe’s, which Alison remarks are “definitely a customer favorite.”

10. Jingle Jangle

Nothing will get you in the holiday spirit quite like Jingle Jangle, a sweet-and-salty mix of chocolate goodness. “I see people smiling in the store, just picking up the tin and sort of shaking a little bit. They smile at it … so that’s, that’s a good thing. Everybody needs a smile right now,” says Tara.

11. Hot Cocoa Snowmen

MOAR hot chocolate! According to Alison, the store’s Hot Cocoa Snowmen were “very popular last year, and flew off the shelves,” which is why they’re bringing them back this year.

12. Candy Cane Joe Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar

Host Matt Sloan placed his vote for this peppermint-flecked chocolate bar. “I love it more than peppermint bark because it’s got that crispier, crunchier texture and … [because it’s a] 2.8-ounce bar.” A single treat ready to go!

13. Coins of the World

“I know people who put The Coins of the World in stockings at Christmastime or who use them as prizes for a dreidel game at Hanukkah celebrations. When you’re a kid, actually chocolate is way better than money,” says Tara of the 99-cent-pouch of chocolate coins.

14. Mini Gingerbread People

Alison may love the Dark Chocolate Shortbread Stars, but she’d be remiss in leaving off this customer favorite: “Another classic that our customers love and is just such an amazing value is the Mini Gingerbread People. It’s just such a big box, great for sharing or for yourself.”

15. Maple Streusel Bread

Tamika, a crew member in Charlotte, North Carolina, picked an offering from the bakery aisle: “I love our Maple Streusel Bread, which is awesome in our bread section.”

16. Danish Almond Kringle

Kris, of Tuscon, Arizona, voted for this perennial favorite: “Everyone loves the Almond Kringle. Can’t have holidays without a Kringle or two.”

Is your favorite holiday item at Trader Joe’s on this list?