What's Good at Trader Joe's? Devotees of the popular chain might respond with, "Everything!" Since last August, one blog has taken the question as its name and mission: to systematically review every product. It isn't the only Trader Joe's review site. As Nathan explained, "We noticed there were some other webpages rating Trader Joe's products, but many hadn't been updated in a long time. Most of them weren't very in-depth, and they were boring to read. The most popular site that rates Trader Joe's foods is Trader Joe's Fan, but they focus more on recipes and cooking."
Since starting What's Good At Trader Joe's in August Nathan Rodgers, his wife Sonia, and their friend Russ Shelly, have reviewed about 75 products in more than 60 blog entries. While the reviewers are fans of Trader Joe's, they take reviewing seriously — their first review was even negative. They rate products on a scale of one to 10, 10 being the best. For any post, two people rate the product, giving their overall impression and up to five points each.
So, after six months of reviewing Trader Joe's products, what is good? "My all-time favorite product is probably the strawberry kiwi juice," Nathan said. "I am a sweet beverage fiend. And Russ, the snack expert, likes the peanut brittle best of all." As for their least favorite products, Nathan noted that "Russ was most disappointed with the whole grain hard pretzel sticks. My least favorite product was the no-tomato chicken lasagna."
Here are the site's the top five picks for Trader Joe's products in five categories — beverages, desserts, sauces and soups, international entrées, and snacks — with explanations for their top picks.
1. Trader Joe's Strawberry Kiwi Juice (10 points): "This beverage lets the natural flavors of both the kiwi and the strawberry through. The taste is complex enough for an adult to enjoy, but it's sweet enough for a Kool-Aid-craving kid."
2. Trader Joe's Pomegranate Limeade (10 points)
3. Trader Joe's Pear Cinnamon Cider (9 points)
4. Trader Joe's Pomegranate Green Tea (8.5 points)
5. Trader Joe's Organic Strawberry Lemonade (8.5 points)
1. Trader Joe's Peach and Blueberry Panna Cotta (9 points): "Trader Joe's managed to mass-produce a frozen version of a classic Italian dessert that's served in five-star restaurants, and very little is lost in their adapted version."
2. Trader Joe's Old-Fashioned Donut O's (9 points)
3. Trader Joe's Caribbean Fruit Floes (9 points)
4. Trader Joe's Mini Eclairs (8 points)
5. Joe-Joe's n' Cream Flavored Ice Cream (8 points)
Sauces and Soups:
1. Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Bisque (10 points): "Most of Trader Joe's sauces and soups do a good job of meeting or exceeding the quality of comparable products from other brands, but the flavor and consistency of their tomato bisque beats that of any tomato soup I've ever had, hands down."
2. Trader Ming's General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce (9.5 points)
3. Trader Jose's Chunky Salsa (9.5 points)
4. Trader Joe's Vegetarian Chili (8.5 points)
5. Trader Joe's Jalapeño Pepper Hot Sauce (8 points)
1. Trader Ming's Mandarin Orange Chicken (9.5 points): "Orange chicken is the quintessential Chinese dish. Trader Ming's version not only beats other frozen varieties, but it rivals what they serve in many sit-down Asian restaurants."
2. Trader Joe's Chicken Tikka Masala (9.5 points)
3. Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (9.5 points)
4. Trader Joe's Chicken Cilantro Mini Wontons (9 points)
5. Trader Ming's Chicken Shu Mai (8.5 points)
1. Trader Joe's Peanut Brittle (10 points): "Again, Trader Joe's not only met expectations by offering their own version of a product, but they gave us a natural peanut brittle at a reasonable price, with a texture and taste that's actually an improvement over other brands."
2. Trader Joe's Baked Jalapeño Cheese Crunchies (8
3. Trader Joe's Roasted Seaweed Snack (8 points)
4. Trader Joe's Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks (8 points)
5. Trader Jose's Super Seeded Tortilla Chips (8 points)