If you’ve ever shopped at Trader Joe’s, you probably know how different it is from just about every other supermarket on earth. The walls are colorfully painted, the employees are wearing Hawaiian shirts, and most importantly, most of the products don’t resemble any that you’ve ever seen before. Here are 10 facts about the food items that stock the shelves at Trader Joe’s.
Trader Joe’s, which was founded in 1967 by a Los Angeles convenience store owner named Joe Coulombe with a name that was a play on the popular tiki restaurant chain Trader Vic’s, stocked a non-traditional array of products from the very beginning. Granola, which was very in vogue in the early 1970s, was the first “private label” (or store brand) product unveiled by the company in 1972. Today, nearly every product the store sells only features the Trader Joe’s branding.
Coulombe was also a big fan of California wines, and the original Trader Joe’s (which still exists in Pasadena) sold literally every California wine that was available, helping to put many vineyards on the map. In 1973, a trip to Trader Joe’s would have offered you many items that you won’t find today, like pantyhose, which was sold in stores until 1978. In 1975, it started cutting and wrapping cheese for the first time, and in 1977 it expanded its private label with fun names like Trader Ming’s, Trader Giotto’s, and Pilgrim Joe. That same year, the store introduced the first reusable canvas grocery bag.
Today, Trader Joe’s sells a wild hodgepodge of items, including non-food items like flowers to greeting cards. But it all seems to fit into that company philosophy of making grocery shopping fun and introducing customers to exciting finds that they might not have ever tried before (if you don’t like something, you can return it for a full refund, no questions asked). Read on to learn 10 facts about the food products sold at Trader Joe’s.