I Solemnly Swear to Honestly Review Everything at Trader Joe’s in 2020

·4 min read

I walked into Trader Joe’s this January with a shopping list topped with KALE GNOCCHI. I walked out with that—and much much more, including an alluring tub of gloppy Buffalo chicken dip. OooOooo. This year, I’ll continue honestly reviewing everything new I can get my hands on at Trader Joe’s for the service of the American public. It’s a duty and a privilege, a blessing and a curse, all in one. Let’s get on with it.

Read last year’s here!

<cite class="credit">Photo by Laura Murray</cite>
Photo by Laura Murray


Dark Russet Potato Chips, $2.29
Whispers into the dark: Utz...that you? Some secrets shall never be revealed, but let me reveal to you that these are Trader Joe’s best chip since elote corn dippers. They’re darkly fried, near-burnt kettle chips with a bubbled brown topography. The bag has a GIANT chip with the disclaimer: “enlarged to show texture.” It looks like a skin graft under a microscope. Ignore that; buy the chips.

Jalapeño Artichoke Dip, $3.69
THIS is what the people want. This is what the people need! Cream cheese, mostly, with a few shreds of artichoke and hot green pepper hither and thither. Despite inhaling the entire container, my esteemed culinary coworkers felt there could have been a bit more seasoning—MSG, onion powder, something—to amp up the flavor. But I have proof Christina Chaey bought another container last weekend anyway.

Buffalo Chicken Dip, $4.99
“There’s something weird about eating chicken...out of a hummus container,” said one taster when hoards gathered ‘round to try this creamy and barely spicy dip that yes, contains little chunks of cooked chicken. It had a strange, haunting power over us. Why was it so good? Was it...safe? Only later did we realize you’re supposed to heat the dip before serving. Guess I’ll have to buy more!

<cite class="credit">Photo by Laura Murray</cite>
Photo by Laura Murray

Frozen stuff

Organic Açaí Bowl, $3.99
This is a rustic ruddy burgundy/mauve cold sweet soup featuring a few frozen blueberries and stray strawberry coins. Not worth the plastic wrapping you have to murder if you ask me. (No one ever asks me.)

Pappa al Pomodoro, $3.69
A soup made with blended bread, featuring a crusty piece of intact toast on the package. Misleading! Because what this pasta sauce-y soup needed was, actually, even more bread. The mushy nubs in the tomato soup nubbed me the wrong way.

8 Mini Croissants, $4.49
Throw these in the oven for 26 minutes and you’ll be blessed with butter-leaking croissants in a variety of lumpy slug shapes. Seriously, there’s enough grease here to repair every squeaky hinge in your house.

Kale Gnocchi, $2.69
An inevitable follow-up to the confoundingly popular cauliflower gnocchi, these look like the severed fingertips of the Jolly Green Giant, say, if he got in trouble with the mob. And they taste like straight-up Miracle Gro. Concentrated plant flavor. A cream-based sauce is NECESSARY. Butter is NOT ENOUGH.

Kunefe, $3.99
One of my favorite desserts in the world! Kunefe is a Middle Eastern dish with a bouncy cheese base encased in shredded phyllo, topped with honey/syrup and pistachio. This version is miniscule. The diameter of a corn tortilla. It served two people. Ideally, Trader Joe’s would start selling the shredded phyllo so I—ALL OF US—could make it in a much bigger dish.

I Dream of Chocolate Cake, $6.99
Once you thaw this from the freezer, it’s a rectangular stack of chocolate goo. Do you see me complaining? The cake part is MOIST as it should be. There are spongy chocolate cubes on top that offer a textural thrill, and isn’t that what you wanted??

<cite class="credit">Photo by Laura Murray</cite>
Photo by Laura Murray

Random Seasonings

Organic Chili Seasoning Blend, $2.29
Bitter aftertaste.

Nori Komi Furikake Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning, $2.49
Gets the job done.

<cite class="credit">Photo by Laura Murray</cite>
Photo by Laura Murray


Peanut and Crispy Noodle Salad Kit, $3.99
Evil salad kits! How annoying that this one is pretty good. The pre-shredded cabbage gets dry, but the peanut dressing is sweet and nutty, and there are crispy fried noodle tidbits. Hated how much I liked this. Hated!

Barista Espresso Coffee Blend, $5.99
Now you can make two-star hotel coffee at home. Tight.

Glazed Chocolate & Sour Cream Glazed Donuts, $3.99
Too dry, almost as if on purpose, so that they can soak up coffee in their thirsty crumbs. Chocolate is better, because they have more ridged edges for dipping.

Overnight Oats, $1.99
My review is me standing in front of my open fridge door, shaking my head.

Toasted Granola Bark, $3.99
A bag of granola bars, or as I like to call them, candy bars (I am fun to be around). One side is coated in chocolate to hide the drywall beneath.

Stay tuned for more new stuff, coming next month!

Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit