The hardest thing about being a Trader Joe's shopper has nothing to do with budgeting for groceries or dealing with the crowds (that's just the most annoying thing about being a Trader Joe's shopper). The hardest thing is keeping up with all the new product introductions. (And, I guess, saying bye to the things you love when they have to go away to make room for new items.) We're only halfway into September and, already, there have been at least a half-dozen new products.
How are you supposed to know if you're actually going to like something new? Is it worth your money or are you gonna end up throwing most of it out? In attempts to help you make sense of it all, I picked up five of the newest and most confusing products at Trader Joe's and gave them a try. Here's what I thought of each one.
1. Spiced Pumpkin Madeleine Cookies, $3 for six cookies
This pumpkin spice flavor profile JUST KEEPS SHOWING UP EVERYWHERE. Here it is in deodorant! And here it is in a madeleine, which feels like such a specific thing to make pumpkin spice. It's not just a cookie or a cake — it's a madeleine!
These are made for Trader Joe's by a bakery in Northern California that has specialized in baking madeleines for more than 40 years. And the experience shows. The treats — which include special ingredients like dried pumpkin flakes, ginger purée, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove — are soft, moist, buttery, and every so slightly pumpkin-y. Would buy again!
2. Candy Corn Popcorn
Did you see this story yesterday: Trader Joe's Has Candy Corn Popcorn and We Have Questions? I'm happy to report that I have some answers now. We asked the following:
- But what is it exactly?
- What is that coating?
- What's it made of?
- Could we buy the coating for other things?
- Would we even want to?
- And do we really need candy corn popcorn?
My answers are as follows below:
- It's popcorn! Like Cracker Jacks popcorn, only candy corn-flavored and way sweeter.
- Sugar. As far as I can tell it's a lot of sugar. But it doesn't actually taste like candy corn. It tastes more like cake batter, really. Very sweet cake batter.
- Sugar. I told you already.
- No, but I'm not sure you'd want to.
- Oh, no.
Don't get me wrong, I love sweet things and almost all candies. My morning coffee probably has more sugar in it than a candy bar. But I do not support this purchase. It's just way too sweet. I wanted to chug a glass of milk after every single kernel. And that's not normal.
3. Seltzers with a Splash, $3 for four cans
"When the time came for us to get into the business of fizziness, we knew we couldn't just do with any ordinary seltzer," Trader Joe's explains. "No, to reach a new caliber of carbonation, we eschewed flavor agents and sweeteners and used real, organic fruit juices to create Trader Joe's Seltzers with a Splash, the new standard for effervescent excellence."
The new seltzers come in three flavors: Blood Orange & Orange Juice, Lemon & Ginger Juice, and Cranberry & Lime Juice. I only bought one pack (because I was on a budget and on foot!) and, after hemming and hawing for a while, I eventually decided on the Cranberry & Lime Juice.
I chilled a can overnight and cracked it open this morning. The pop wasn't as fizzy-sounding as my usual La Croix, so I was worried about the bubble situation. But the stuff is plenty fizzy. The "with a splash" part is exactly right. It's carbonated water with a splash of other stuff (in this case, organic cranberry juice, organic lime juice, and organic natural lime flavor). I liked it! It's refreshing and zingy with a kick of flavor right as you swallow. I bet it'd be good to use in cocktails.
The only thing I didn't like about this stuff was the price. I can get 15 cans of La Croix for $4 at Aldi. That's around 26 cents a can, so this 75-cents-per-can is a little hard to swallow.
4. ABC Bars, $3 for six
Short for Almond Butter Cocoa Bars, these pocked-sized squares are chewy, chocolatey, oat-based, and filled with almond butter. "They're like our PB&J Bars' chocolatey, almond-y cousin," the website touts. "They also happen to be gluten-free and vegan!" I haven't had the PB&J Bars before, but I'm going to look for them now because these were that yummy.
At first, I was worried they were too thin and that I'd have to take the store's suggestion and sandwich two bars around an additional layer of almond butter, but that would be total overkill. One bar is all you need. My favorite discovery is that there's fig paste in these bars and it's basically undetectable — unlike all that date madness in RXBARS (I don't usually enjoy fruit in my bars, in case you couldn't tell).
5. Thai Tea Mini Mochi, $3.50 for 15
I was convinced that I wasn't going to like these. See, I don't love Thai tea, mochi, or non-dairy ice cream and these mini treats have all three. Three strikes and you're out? Not so fast!
I opened these bad boys up on the sidewalk right outside my local Trader Joe's (What? I live 10 blocks away, it was muggy out, and I was worried about them melting! Also, I'm an adult and I can do what I want!) and took a little bite, only to be pleasantly surprised. The filling looks and tastes just like ice cream (even though it's not). The tea flavor is strong, but also sweet. I've had Trader Joe's Strawberry Mochi and I actually liked this better. Plus, the mini size is fun and makes it possible to have a little treat whenever you want — like, when you're walking home from Trader Joe's.
Have you tried any of these new products? What'd you think?