Categories
Packaged Food

Trader Joe’s Stocks Shelves With New Garlic Onion Pistachios

Photo Courtesy of Trader Joe’s

I’ve been looking for new snack options in the past few months, because there’s only so many Sweet Maui Onion Hawaiian Chips a guy can eat.

Enter one of Trader Joe’s newest arrivals: Trader Joe’s Garlic & Onion Pistachios. Man, this sounds like heaven to my palate.

With this new snack, California grown pistachios are dry roasted and dusted with a hearty blend of garlic, onion, and sea salt. The shells are intact and ready for you to simply pop into your mouth to get a full burst of flavor.

You can find a 13-oz bag for $6.99 at your local Trader Joe’s. Not gonna lie, this bag could very well be gone by the time I get home from the store.

Categories
Grocery Packaged Food

Trader Joe’s Adds New Savory Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Balls

Photo: Constantine Spyrou

Looks like Trader Joe’s is adding more savory options to their frozen mochi selection, as their newest item is definitely prepped to turn some heads. Trader Joe’s has just released a new Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Ball snack to their frozen food section.

The Kung Pao Mochi Balls are approximately the size of a golf ball and, when baked, has a crisp brown exterior. That exterior is followed by a soft chewy mochi texture that leads into the final level of a sweet and spicy chicken and veggie core.

Trader Joe’s says that they were inspired to make this new item after trying a savory mochi appetizer at an udon bar on a trip to Tokyo.

You can find these new frozen appetizers at Trader Joe’s locations nationwide in the freezer section of the store. I wonder how these will taste with TJ’s Chili Onion Crunch?

Categories
What's New

Trader Joe’s Has An All-New Ube Mochi Pancake and Waffle Mix

With this pancake cereal trend blowing up everywhere, pancake mixes are flying off shelves. If you happen to be near a Trader Joe’s, however, you might be lucky enough to spot something pretty unique in the offerings of breakfast cake batter.

A crazy cool new variation of pancake mix was just spotted at Trader Joe’s: Ube Mochi Pancake and Waffle Mix.

Spotted by Trader Joe’s aficionado with the apt handle @TraderJoesAficionado,  this brand new item draws inspiration from the popular purple yams known as ube most prominently used in Filipino desserts. Ube flour is combined with rice flour to create an extra chewy texture within these pancakes. Entirely gluten free, all you really need is flour, eggs, and butter.

Let’s be honest, there’s no way I’d make minis of these. I’d want to try fat stacks of them on my first go. Looks and sounds AMAZING.

You can find this Ube Mochi Pancake and Waffle mix at participating Trader Joe’s locations throughout the U.S.

Feature image courtesy of @TraderJoesAficionado
Categories
Grocery Opinion

Grocery Stores Should Implement Reservation Systems To Curb Panic Buying

For the past couple weeks, the scenes inside of grocery stores can best be described as chaotic In the grocery trips I’ve been to, plus those of many of my co-workers and friends who have shared on social media, entire sections of stores have been cleaned out by everyone stockpiling food and supplies. Lines of customers looking to get extra cases of water or toilet paper form hours before opening.

Unfortunately, this situation has made it hard for many others, including several who are immunocompromised or otherwise can’t shop due to the dangers of exposing themselves to the coronavirus, to obtain just the basics they need to get through the week. Many stores are offering “Elderly-only” hours as one way to fix this, but the store shelves still continue to be wiped out.

This is deeply concerning because it threatens the food security of many people, especially those who may not be able to get to grocers first thing in the morning. Those who can often travel to multiple stores to get just what they need on a short-term basis. Meanwhile, many essentials, including milk, eggs, and other in-demand items, continue to remain out of stock.

However, it’s not a concern of whether we have enough food. Grocery stores have made it clear that is not the case, and are hiring en masse to try to get shelves stocked and supply chains sped up as quickly as possible. At this point, what we need is a drastic solution in order to ensure that more people, and those in need, have the same access to food as those who are stockpiling.

There is a model that some companies and stores have followed that could present a novel solution: creating a reservation system for shoppers to use to shop for the groceries they need, rather than allowing people to stockpile.

A system like this has already been used before by companies like Nike and Disney. Nike will set up reservations to purchase shoes for any hype sneakers they do limited drops on. Disney, meanwhile, had been utilizing “boarding groups” that are called throughout the day for admission to its Rise of the Resistance rides in Disneyland and Disney World before both parks closed.

Disneyland’s system works by opening up reservations for each day at the park’s opening, then cutting them off once a certain number is filled. Anyone who gets a boarding group can then head to the ride when their number is called, and have a two-hour window to enter.

A system like this could work for grocery stores because it would control the amount of people in stores at a time. Combined with the limits some stores are imposing on how many goods you can buy, and it gives stores enough time to restock some major goods or ensure that there’s enough to go around.

Doing this online could be problematic for those without internet access or that show up in person, so it would probably need to be a combination of physically signing up in person as well as online sign-ups, with limits to each.

Could grocery stores be convinced to move to these reservation systems? It’s likely that they would have to set them up themselves (which would require development work) as well as regulate/maintain them. There’s also the possibility that it reduces the amount of purchased goods overall each day, although given that stores tend to run out by lunchtime anyway, that may not be the case.

Whichever the case, there’s clearly a need for some kind of system, as grocers have already started to implement limitations. Some local Trader Joe’s stores, for example, are asking customers to limit the amount of items they purchase. Costco is also informing people that it won’t accept returns on items like water and toilet paper, in addition to other items they run out of regularly these days.

The biggest question of something like this is who would pay for it. Chances are that the government won’t, as they’ve got bigger problems they’re addressing like trying to provide much-needed relief to small businesses (including restaurants).
My guess is that it’s going to have to come from the grocery chains themselves, and they may not want to unless they think such a reservation system is essential to business operations. One can definitely make the argument that it is essential, or at the very least, may help prevent grocers from running out of food daily.

Food shortages aren’t the problem plaguing our grocery stores. People panicking and overbuying in obscene amounts are what’s causing store shelves to go barren. If you find a way to curb that through a reservation system, then you can not only serve more customers, but also ensure those who need food at this time have access to it.

Categories
News

Joe Coulombe, Founder of Trader Joe’s, Passes Away at 89

Joe Coulombe, founder of Trader Joe’s, the revolutionary grocery store that focused on high quality items at low prices, has passed away at the age of 89, according to the Associated Press.

Joe’s curiosity, philanthropic generosity, and irreverent sense of humor were woven into the fabric of the culture that defines Trader Joe’s stores.the company said in a statement over the weekend. 

Known for its Hawaiian shirt-wearing employees, fair wages, and a focus on serving “overeducated and underpaid people,” the store amassed a cult following soon after its original Pasadena, CA location opened in 1967.

Five years after its opening, Joe introduced a granola to the store that he considered to be a “game-changer,” in that it was the first time the company had acquired a product at the wholesale level and sold under the Trader Joe’s brand name. 

The snack was a preview of the business model that would propel the store to its current popularity. This, along with a policy of discontinuity that insisted on only buying prime items at a good deal, no matter if that meant switching suppliers, allowed the store to maintain its low prices and continue attracting the struggling conscious consumer whom Coulombe originally envisioned the store to serve.

While Coulombe sold his interest in the company to Aldi Nord in 1979 — when there were only 19 stores — his vision and mission still lives on in each and every one of the 500+ locations across the nation.

For that, pour a two buck Chuck out for Mr. Coulombe today.

Categories
Packaged Food

Trader Joe’s ‘Everything But The Elote’ Seasoning Bottles The Magic Of Street Corn

With the ever-popular Everything But The Bagel seasoning Trader Joe’s released not too long ago, the grocery store chain has decided to keep their seasoning blend momentum going with their newest addition to the spice aisle: Everything But Elote.

You can find a typical elote, seasoned corn on the cob, from street vendors in Mexico as well as some cities sprinkled throughout the United States. The corn on the cob is covered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and finished with some lime juice.

Trader Joe’s seasoning blend boasts some salt, chili pepper, parmesan cheese, chipotle powder, dried cilantro, and cumin. Trader Joe’s mentions the idea for this item came after the success of both the Everything Bagel seasoning as well as the Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers.

You can find this new blend at all participating Trader Joe’s locations across the US. We picked up a bottle ourselves, and so far its tasted fantastic on tacos, instant ramen, leftover chicken wings, and some strawberries Elie forgot to put his name on. It’s pretty amazing.

Categories
Grocery Plant-Based What's New

Trader Joe’s Officially Launches Their Take On Plant-Based ‘Bleeding’ Burgers

While Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have long dominated the plant-based burger space, several other vegan patties have surfaced over the past year. To kick off 2020, Trader Joe’s has decided to throw its hat into the ring with its own, in-house rendition on the plant meat that can cook to “medium rare.”

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s

Initially leaked in September 2019, Trader Joe’s has officially sent out a release that confirms the nationwide rollout of their meat-free burger patties. The “Protein Patties,” as they’re called, are made similar to Beyond Meat’s, with a base of pea protein, sunflower oil, and beet powder that allows the burgers to look pink and juicy in the middle when fully cooked.

Each 8-ounce package of the patties costs $4.49, putting it on par with Beyond Meat, Impossible, and other refrigerated plant-based meats currently in grocers. While that’s still a hefty price compared to the current cost of ground beef, given all of the new entrants into the market in the past year, it should only be a matter of time before the price of plant-based meat drops below that of regular meat.

The Protein Patties began their release across the nation on January 20th, so if they’re not at your local Trader Joe’s store yet, you should expect to see them soon.

Categories
Grocery Packaged Food Sweets What's New

Trader Joe’s Now Sells Kunefe, A Middle Eastern Dessert With An Insane Cheese Pull

Few desserts provide the same comforting bear hug of warmth and deliciousness that a slice of kunefe can provide. This gooey, stretchy Middle Eastern treat consists of a crispy exterior of kataifi (shredded phyllo dough) and a melty cheese interior. That all then gets drenched in a floral syrup and garnished with plenty of pistachios to give you a festival of textures, flavors, and feelings all in one bite.

Growing up in a Middle Eastern church, kunefe has always been one of my favorite desserts. It’s also one of the most difficult out there to get right, as everything has to be in the correct ratios and cooked to perfection. While I usually leave this science and wizardry up to the way more talented bakers at my church, there’s apparently a version of kunefe at Trader Joe’s that makes this sweet way more convenient.

Folks have been spotting kunefe in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s for the past four days or so, which, to be honest, surprised me. Kunefe is a pretty niche dessert, even though it’s been gaining popularity on Instagram, particularly with Turkish and Middle Eastern accounts. Sure, that cheese pull makes it eye-catching, but I had no idea that there was enough appeal for a major grocer to create their own take on it.

In terms of similarities, it seems like the Trader Joe’s team stuck pretty close to how kunefe is typically made. The outer crusts are made of kataifi, while the interior is a blend of two cheeses: mozzarella and myzithra, a ricotta-like cheese made from sheep or goat milk.

Inside the package also comes a small amount of ground pistachios for garnish, as well as a packet of syrup to soak the entire pastry in once it’s baked. Thus, the full kunefe experience is now available in freezer form, making this dessert way more accessible to the average American consumer.

While I haven’t taken this kunefe on a test run yet, I’m curious to see just how close this Trader Joe’s version comes to the real thing. Stay tuned.