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Aug 14, 2013 04:52 PM

TJ's Items That Would Devastate a Non-Initiate

We've had hundreds of threads suggesting good things to try at Trader Joe's. But the thing about TJs - which I'm always struggling to explain to the uninitiated - is that it's not about knocking you over with deliciousness. It's about a selection of stuff a few notches better, healthier, and cheaper than can be found elsewhere. Also some unique things that are good to have. Most aren't, like, GEMS, but it's not aiming for that sort of an experience.

However! A few things truly are bona fide great. Not items one might have become "addicted to", not items that are "very good" or "useful", but strictly bona fide GREAT items. So I wonder if we can compile a list of things someone who doesn't "get" Trader Joe's would taste and exclaim "wow, that's freaking AWESOME!"

I'll go first!

Apple Blossoms (frozen)

Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar (for me, nearly as good as some of the best single-estate chocolates)

Vacuum-fried pineapple (discontinued, it seems)

Freeze-dried mango (because it's an interesting varietal we'll never get to try fresh here)


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  1. the frozen basil puree cubes - Dorot brand IIRC - high quality, very useful and good in the dead of winter.

    and of course the 3 buck chuck...

    6 Replies
    1. re: hill food

      I nominate the dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. Much better than any others I've tried, and quite addictive.

      1. re: hill food

        Whoever created that Dorot stuff is my hero. Seriously,

          1. re: hill food

            Yes. And ginger, carmelized onion, and chile

            1. re: hill food

              My TJ's only sells the garlic and basil. But whole foods has the whole lineup.

          2. re: hill food

            Dorot Garlic is always a nice backup for when I've run out of fresh.

          3. The original comment has been removed
              1. The sea salt caramels that usually only come out at the holidays. These are on par with my local high end chocolate/candy maker. They come in small, round decorative box. I buy at least two boxes during the limited season and rarely share.

                1. I must agree about the Apple Blossems. I bypassed them for a long time, assuming that they would be the equivalent of a Pepperidge Farm apple turnover ( inedible). Tried them after reading the recs here. They are shockingly good by any apple dumpling standard!