The Best-Kept Secret at Trader Joe’s Is Surprisingly Sweet

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(Image credit: Cassiohabib)

Trader Joe’s has a secret. It’s not a dark secret, of course. I mean, we’re talking about Trader Joe’s, after all.

When anonymous employees took to Reddit to spill the dark secrets about their places of employment, the big reveal about Trader Joe’s was that everyone really was actually that nice and liked working there.

It turns out that Trader Joe’s biggest secret is completely adorable: In most stores the employees are playing a low-key game of hide-and-seek with all the kids who come in.

(Image credit: Diana Liang)

A lot of customers don’t realize it, even if they shop at Trader Joe’s regularly, but somewhere in the store, the employees have hidden a stuffed animal. Any kid who finds the stuffed animal is given a special treat, like a lollipop, as a prize.

This is brilliant. Shopping with kids can be difficult. Kids don’t generally like going to the grocery store, and sometimes it feels like you’re always one cartoon tiger away from a public temper tantrum. But if you tell a kid about the hidden stuffed animal game, that kid is going to be ecstatic. My kid would ask to go to the grocery store every single day.

I first heard about the stuffed animals from a Reddit user claiming to be a manager at Trader Joe’s, who said every store had a stuffed animal hiding somewhere. I love Trader Joe’s, but I’ve never seen a stuffed animal there. So I checked with Trader Joe’s to see if it was true, and it is! I am irrationally excited about this.

“Now, I cannot say that there is one in every single store, but in general, stores typically have one,” said Kendra Friend-Daniel, public relations director for Trader Joe’s. “It’s a way to engage with kids in our store. If they locate the hidden stuffed toy, they just let a Crew Member know and they’ll receive a treat. The type of stuffed toy and treat may vary store to store, but for example, in my local Trader Joe’s there’s a hidden penguin and when my daughters locate it, they receive a lollipop.”

The stuffed animals do vary from store to store. Some stores have monkeys, while others have penguins, lobsters, cows, or other stuffed animal mascots. The game is designed for kids, but I’m definitely going to have my eyes peeled for that stuffed animal next time I go to Trader Joe’s. (It’s probably not in the wine section, though, is it?)

Have you ever seen the hidden stuffed animal at Trader Joe’s?