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Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe's

givemecarbs Aug 23, 2010 05:05 PM


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  1. nofunlatte Aug 23, 2010 06:19 PM

    This was fascinating. I ♥ Trader Joe's!

    1. xo_kizzy_xo Aug 23, 2010 06:57 PM

      Quite interesting and not very surprising re their vendors.

      1. monku Aug 23, 2010 07:37 PM

        Good informative article.
        Is it my imagination that the article and their website makes no mention of their "no questions asked return policy" ? I'm pretty sure it used to be prominently displayed on their website before this one.


        2 Replies
        1. re: monku
          givemecarbs Aug 23, 2010 08:16 PM

          The article mentioned the policy.

          1. re: givemecarbs
            monku Aug 23, 2010 08:27 PM

            You're right....now how about on their website?

        2. goodhealthgourmet Aug 23, 2010 09:38 PM

          i just think it's funny that they even bother with that vendor confidentiality policy at this point - it's really rather easy to identify the manufacturers for a majority of the products.

          25 Replies
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            monku Aug 23, 2010 09:39 PM

            Not everyone is as smart as you.

            1. re: monku
              goodhealthgourmet Aug 23, 2010 09:49 PM

              i think/hope you meant that in jest...it has nothing to do with being "smart," just familiar with a product.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                monku Aug 23, 2010 09:56 PM

                I'm serious.
                I buy TJ's items because of the quality and value. It never occured to me I was buying name brand product with a TJ label.

                1. re: monku
                  goodhealthgourmet Aug 23, 2010 10:03 PM

                  wow, i didn't mean to offend! i assumed everyone who shops at TJs knows by now that many of their branded products are repackaged existing items from various manufacturers.

                  if you give me a list of the things you typically buy there, i'll tell you who makes them if they're any of the ones i know ;)

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    monku Aug 23, 2010 10:15 PM

                    No offense taken.

                    Probably easier if you throw some out to me, some of the stuff I buy I don't think are from name branded products....from the description I see in the Fearless Flyer.
                    Only one I'm sure of is TJ's ice cream (Double Rainbow).

                    1. re: monku
                      goodhealthgourmet Aug 23, 2010 10:29 PM

                      start here:

                      and i'll toss in a few more:
                      - Chocolate Cacao Nibs in the metal tin are Sweetriot
                      - Kefir is Lifeway
                      - Gluten-Free Granola is Bakery on Main
                      - i can't remember what the different varieties are called at TJ's, but they sell Sahale Snacks (seasoned nut blends) under their label
                      - goat's milk is Summerhill Farms (at least it is here in CA - they use regional suppliers for some items like that).
                      - Toasted Nori Snacks are Sea's Gift
                      - the latest is a repackaging of Sabra hummus.

                      those are the ones that come to mind off the top of my head.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        monku Aug 23, 2010 10:34 PM

                        Thanks for the primer. I'll be more aware.

                        1. re: monku
                          Bob W Aug 24, 2010 08:24 AM

                          Costco makes it easier for us mortals. They just slap Kirkland on top of the name brand. 8<D

                          1. re: Bob W
                            monku Aug 24, 2010 10:43 AM

                            Live by the Kirkland label and probably buried in a Kikland coffin.

                            1. re: monku
                              EWSflash Aug 27, 2010 12:59 PM

                              Huh? Was that a reference the fact that Costco sells coffins, or that their house brand may kill you- or both?

                            2. re: Bob W
                              givemecarbs Aug 24, 2010 06:44 PM

                              I was just thinking that Bob!

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            gnomatic Aug 24, 2010 11:55 AM

                            - Frozen croissants & chocolate croissants are by Galaxy Desserts
                            - Organic milk in the SF Bay Area is Strauss Dairy
                            - Savory Broths Reduced Sodium Concentrates are Savory Choice
                            - Popped Potato Chips are Pop Chips

                            1. re: gnomatic
                              Caitlin McGrath Aug 24, 2010 12:50 PM

                              In Northern California, the cream-top organic milk is Straus; the other organic milks are Clover.

                              Organic European-Style yogurt is Straus (nationwide).

                              The boxed soups are Pacific Natural, so the boxed broth may be, too.

                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                alkapal Aug 24, 2010 04:01 PM

                                tj's water crackers? made by carr's?

                                tj's stoned wheat crackers? by red oval farms?

                                1. re: alkapal
                                  givemecarbs Aug 27, 2010 12:55 PM

                                  My favorite part was where the retail expert Burt P. Flickinger III ended up buying a few items during his walk through.

                            2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              spinachandchocolate Aug 28, 2010 07:08 AM

                              I don't think their cacao nibs are sweetriot. same shaped tins but different taste.

                              1. re: spinachandchocolate
                                rainey Aug 28, 2010 09:16 AM

                                I haven't seen cocoa nibs at the TJs near me. Do they have regional things like Costco?

                                1. re: rainey
                                  Ruth Lafler Aug 28, 2010 10:17 AM

                                  There have been reports that distribution centers in different areas have slightly different products. If it's a TJ's label product I wouldn't think there'd be any regional variation, though. You can always ask -- if they don't have it they can look it up and tell you if they can get it.

                                  1. re: rainey
                                    goodhealthgourmet Aug 28, 2010 02:59 PM

                                    if your local store has them, they'll likely be on the display at the checkout line among the chocolate bars, gum, and tins of mints and Altoids.

                                  2. re: spinachandchocolate
                                    goodhealthgourmet Aug 28, 2010 02:58 PM

                                    have you tried all three Sweetriot varieties? they make 50%, 65% and 70% (with espresso)...the TJ's product tastes *exactly* like the 65 to me, and the shape and chocolate coverage are the same as Sweetriot, and different from any other brand i've tried.

                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                LindaWhit Aug 26, 2010 10:02 AM

                                What about my "must buy" - those Triple Gingersnaps? :-)

                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                  goodhealthgourmet Aug 26, 2010 04:58 PM

                                  i *suspect* they may be Beth's, based in Mill Valley, but i'm not positive...

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                    alkapal Aug 27, 2010 05:30 AM

                                    what about my water crackers and stoned wheat crackers?

                                    1. re: alkapal
                                      goodhealthgourmet Aug 27, 2010 01:23 PM

                                      again, can't be sure because i've never had either one (darned Celiac), but my best guess would be Carr's for the water crackers, and Nabisco on the stoned wheat.

                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                  mariacarmen Aug 27, 2010 10:08 AM

                                  i did not know that either! great article.

                        2. j
                          jujuthomas Aug 24, 2010 11:47 AM

                          thanks, that was very interesting!

                          1. Ruth Lafler Aug 24, 2010 01:50 PM

                            I thought it was an interesting article.

                            I particularly appreciated the comments about limited choices. I don't need 40 kinds of peanut butter -- I just need one *good* peanut butter (or really, four: salted/unsalted, creamy/chunky). I get very frustrated when I'm offered what seems to be a huge number of choices only to find that most of the products are exactly the same and none of them has the combination of features I want.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                              givemecarbs Aug 24, 2010 03:29 PM

                              Agreed. I tend to get overwhelmed in big stores so theoretically TJ's should be a more relaxing place to shop. Heh. Maybe on sunday nights. At my TJ's the employees tend to yell back and forth a lot, etc. Maybe they will do a follow up article on how employees are trained and what they look for in an applicant. I've only been to my local TJ's so I'm not sure if the hyperactive employees are in every store.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                rainey Aug 26, 2010 08:18 PM

                                I agree and disagree. When I like the product like the boxed soups and ketchup I could't agree more. When I don't -- like many of their packaged food are too highly spiced, they can get chile happy -- then it's disconcerting not to have an alternative.

                              2. h
                                HillJ Aug 24, 2010 06:50 PM

                                How about the orgin of the TJ's greek yogurt and teddy bear ginger gummies?

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: HillJ
                                  goodhealthgourmet Aug 24, 2010 08:40 PM

                                  i've never seen the ginger gummy bears, but my guess is that it's Buderim:

                                  i'm 99% sure the individual 5.3-oz containers of organic Greek yogurt are Oikos, but i don't kno about the larger, non-organic 1-lb containers.

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                    HillJ Aug 24, 2010 08:44 PM

                                    Yep, the ginger gummy bears are def. Buderim!

                                2. DAWK Aug 25, 2010 11:03 AM

                                  Anyone know who makes Trader Joe's Kettle Corn. I purchased a bag recently and can't get enough of this stuff. It tastes better than some freshly made batches too.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: DAWK
                                    mels Aug 25, 2010 12:05 PM

                                    My guess is that it's made by Popcorn Indiana


                                  2. LindaWhit Aug 26, 2010 10:01 AM

                                    VERY interesting story - I do hope that TJs can keep up the neighborhood feel.

                                    1. r
                                      rainey Aug 26, 2010 08:52 PM

                                      They forgot to mention how you fall in love with a product and then it's gone.

                                      Their frozen prik king was great but now gone. Put a few of their tiger shrimp on the top and it was da bomb!

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: rainey
                                        skippy66 Aug 27, 2010 11:58 AM

                                        Maybe we should start a thread "Your favorite things that you used to be able to get but can no longer get at Trader Joe's…"

                                        I'll start:
                                        The all-butter frozen puff pastry they used to sell.
                                        The low-fat rye crackers (kinda like melba toast). I can't remember the name.

                                        1. re: skippy66
                                          LindaWhit Aug 27, 2010 12:13 PM

                                          Ginger Spread.
                                          Kirk's Original Coco Castile Soap

                                          1. re: LindaWhit
                                            Caitlin McGrath Aug 27, 2010 01:05 PM

                                            Yeah, there are already threads for this on the chains board, but just so you know, LW, that ginger spread was made by Ginger People. I buy it at a local market under the brand name now.

                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath
                                              LindaWhit Aug 27, 2010 01:14 PM

                                              Yup, I've seen it (and also did a search for "ginger" on that thread that Sloth linked and saw you said the same thing there <g>) . But I still have (I think) two jars of the TJs brand in my pantry to use up. :-)

                                          2. re: skippy66
                                            rainey Aug 27, 2010 12:37 PM

                                            One Christmas they had a fantastic truffle butter.
                                            Speaking of butter, I wish they still carried the Plugra but I'm very happy with the Kerrygold.

                                            1. re: rainey
                                              LindaWhit Aug 27, 2010 12:40 PM

                                              Thanks for the reminder re: the butter - I wish they still carried the Presidente.

                                              1. re: LindaWhit
                                                ospreycove Aug 27, 2010 01:08 PM

                                                LindaW...... Do you prefer creamery or cultured butter. If cultured, Organic Valley has a good example of this ripened cream butter. Available in unsalted and salted.

                                                1. re: ospreycove
                                                  LindaWhit Aug 27, 2010 01:19 PM

                                                  I'll take either, ospreycove. Organic Valley that is sold by Whole Foods? Trying to remember if I've had it. I pick up Kate's butter when it's on sale at my local supermarket; REALLY liked Vermont Butter & Cheese Cultured European style as well.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                    rainey Aug 27, 2010 01:40 PM

                                                    Oh yeah! Vermont Butter & Cheese butter is to die for. But I've never seen it at either TJs or WF.

                                                    1. re: rainey
                                                      goodhealthgourmet Aug 27, 2010 04:48 PM

                                                      if your local WFM doesn't have the butter you can probably ask the dairy manager to order it for you, because they do carry some of the Vermont B & C cheeses.

                                            2. re: skippy66
                                              Sloth Aug 27, 2010 12:42 PM

                                              You can add more to this long-running topic on the Chains Board

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