Trader Joe’s Employees Preview 5 New Items, Including a New Take on an Old Favorite
But, these items still need to pass the tasting panel.
There’s never a shortage of new items debuting at Trader Joe’s, but it’s not too often that we get a preview of some (hopefully) soon-to-be-released products straight from insiders at the popular grocery store chain. However, on the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe's podcast, TJ's employees and co-hosts Matt Sloan, vice president of marketing, and Tara Miller, marketing director, invited some California high school students to the Trader Joe’s offices in the Golden State. These students, who all participate in a Trader Joe’s club at their respective schools, were treated to a tour of the facility—including the test kitchen—and a taste test of several items that will potentially be in stores, pending a good result from the tasting panel.
During the tour, Miller even explained a bit about how Trader Joe’s tests and develops its products. Regarding new product development she shared: “Sometimes we'll get a call from a crew member in a store [with an idea]…sometimes we have outside vendors who will reach out to us…and sometimes it's our product development teams traveling around the world, going to restaurants, meeting with manufacturers of different types of foods, and developing things.”
Related:Here Are the Most-Loved Trader Joe's Products of the Year, According to Customers
In order to churn out new products year-round, Miller noted that TJ’s hosts a tasting panel on a weekly basis in an effort to decide which items are good enough to grace store shelves. “If a product gets at least 70 percent of the votes—a super-majority vote—then it's considered past the tasting panel, and it starts the part of the process that is to get it from the panel into the stores. That can be a long process.”
“We introduce, on average, more than 365 new products a year,” Sloan added, noting that the team recently hosted a festive tasting panel for the 2023 holiday season that included more than 70 items.
So what did these lucky high schoolers get to sample? The products they tasted are “in process,” and nearly ready to head to the all-important tasting panel, but haven’t reached that pivotal point just yet. Scroll down to find out which new items you might see at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s soon!
As longtime Trader Joe’s shoppers may remember, the chain had its own version of this sweet treat about a decade ago, but it’s been MIA for several years. Now, it appears like a new version of the crunchy snack may be released again soon. If these early reviews are any indication, this one could be a hit. One student called it “very delicious,” while another said it offered a “nice balance between the [different] tastes.”
Related:14 Best Trader Joe's Food and Recipe Hacks, According to Employees
Unlike licorice made in America, the licorice you find in Australia tends to boast a distinctive licorice flavor, as well as smoky and earthy notes since it’s made with a combination of wheat flour and molasses. As Sloan pointed out, this particular licorice, which comes in two flavors, is also filled with “sherbet fizz.” The green licorice has a green apple center, while the red licorice is filled with raspberry fizz. While the students couldn’t agree on whether the green or red licorice tasted better, the general consensus was very positive. “Both were good,” one student shared.
Banana Mousse Cakes
Thanks to items like banana bread and banana pudding, it seems like the yellow fruit is invading our desserts. Trader Joe’s latest answer to the banana trend is none other than banana mousse cakes shaped like bananas, which feature banana mousse wrapped in yellow fondant. “This is probably one of my favorite things that we’ve tried so far,” one student declared. Another noted that while she liked the inside of the dessert, she wasn’t sold on the exterior. “It felt a little bit like a candle … the yellow was almost waxy.”
Inspired by TJ’s popular Brookies, these Brookie Clusters seem to be part Brookie (half brownie, half cookie) and part turtle candy. As one student put it: “I would eat a whole bag of these in one sitting, but I think ‘brookie’ is misleading. This is not a Brookie Cluster because you're getting caramel, you're getting a crunch, but there's no brownie.” Several students agreed, and some even compared this treat directly to turtle candies. Name aside, nearly all of the students agreed that this item is a winner.
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“This is an appetizer-type of dish that is from Vietnam,” Sloan explained. Miller, who cooked these in the air fryer prior to the taste test, added: “This is like a shrimp dumpling-y spring roll in a triangle form.” While Vietnamese shrimp pops are typically served with a peanut sauce, there was no mention of that condiment with this item.
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