Trader Joe's Yea/Nay/Meh: 4th Quarter 2015 - Pumpkinvasion to New Year's

Starting this a few days early. TJ’s is teeming with cucurbitous seasonal products, some making encore appearances (pumpkin cereals, granola bars, pop-tarts, and the like), some debuting this year, like the autumnal jarred salsa, which contains apple and butternut squash. I bought a jar but have too many other partially-used condiment jars to open a new one just yet.

YEA products introduced in recent months, even with my low tolerance for chili heat, are muhammara and Green Dragon hot sauce. I bake fish weekly and have concocted a sauce to accompany it, from equal parts muhammara, mixed veg or carrot hummus, and TJ pineapple salsa, plus a squirt of GD sauce. I also use it as a crudite dip.

The Thomcord grapes arrived a month ago - last year they had a long season which I hope will repeat this year. The stalks of Brussels sprouts appeared the last week in September 2014 but I have not seen them yet this year.

Glad to see this thread!!! For health reasons, I have to limit carbs so I can’t do most of the processed foods at TJ… That said, yay for great avocadoes they have today for 99¢, are from Mexico. The oil content is high so they are delicious (much, much better than the blah ones from Chile or Peru).

Also yay for the Cultured butter from Brittany, yum!


I’ve never seen those Thomcord grapes in nyc TJs… I’ll look for them elsewhere though.
YAYish- I tried the new this year harvest blend salad- its a bag of the greens with pumpkin seeds, raisins, dates, pumpkin cornbread croutons, and dressing. The dressing was a bit too sweet for me so i added my own dijon vinegrette and some smoked tofu so it was more of a meal.
I’m stealing the pumpkin cornbread croutons idea and plan to make my own!

NAY- pumpkin cheesecake. They had this at the tasting stand and i saw the entire cheesecake which is a sad short thing with just a bottom crust, but it tasted really bland and had a weird texture. No detectable actual flavor.

GG, let us know your thoughts on that harvest salsa- i looked it over yet was afraid it would be super spicy (i’m a wimp) or with the apples and such too sweet

Picked up the Autumnal Harvest Creamy pasta sauce today. One of the guys there said it was not overpowering with pumpkin and he loved it. Just a hint of pumpkin… my almost 9 year old loves everything pumpkin (he is so happy the pumpkin fruit and grain bars are back).

Have not tried it yet, but will try it on the cheese tortellini. Quick and easy after football practice on a school night.

Will check out the salsa…

I bought that sauce yesterday. As is, it would do, for me, as a soup. Not up my alley as a pasta sauce, since it lacks umami depth. I used it for a pork stew, which also included leeks, garlic, apple, summer savory, dried mushroom powder, hard cider, vinegar, sugar, and sriracha. (I’d have included cabbage if I had any on hand). Decent results for a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants concoction.

I missed out last year on the highly-praised Dan Armor Cidre Brut hard apple cider. When I looked for it last week in the Nashua NH TJ’s, I was told it was already gone for the season, So yesterday I took a 2-hour detour to Framingham, which had it, coming home with several bottles. My criterion for hard cider goes back 40 years to Bulmer’s London Dry Cider, which I haven’t seen in decades. The Dan Armor is weaker, with less carbonation, sad to say. It was not worth the “ciditarod” it took to get it. Though it isn’t great, either, I prefer Downeast Hard Cider, which comes in cans.

Sounds yummy! Did you taste any overwhelming flavors from the sauce itself? Thinking I could doctor it up, as my mother used to say…

To me, the jarred Autumnal Harvest sauce was bland and just generically vegetal in flavor.


MEH - Tried the Organic Creamy Tomato Soup when I was sick recently…I’d bought it a while ago b/c it got decent reviews on that other site IIRC: thought it was overly sweet & needed salt, pepper, basil & some garlic to make it work.

YAY - the burrata. OMG. I’ve sung its praise before. While tomatoes are still at their peak (barely, at this point), it makes for an amazing caprese. Not sure if it’s a seasonal offering, but get yoself some. Pronto.

I have to revise my MEH to YEA, almost. I discovered that the cider settles, so the stuff o the bottom has more apple flavor. But how does one deal with shaking a bottle whose contents are carbonated? :fearful:

I find all of the TJs box soups too sweet as is (good lord, especially the pumpkin) except for the black bean one- with some TLC and added ingredients they’re good in a pinch, just not as is.

I loved that cider! And then i went back and kapooof all gone. Just turn upside down gently, then right side up once or twice- or lay on its side and turn every few minutes until you open it…

I was surprised at how sweet I found it. Wegmans has a tomato soup that isn’t nearly as sweet (I still add stuff, but don’t have to counterbalance sugar at least).

Sounds like you might have done better with a can of tomato puree! I used to make Teddy Bear Soup for my daughter from canned sauce, milk and pasta bears, minimal seasoning.

TJ’s fresh mozz is awful, but the burrata is good! I’ve had burrata over sliced maters with a heap of fresh basil and evoo for the past few months for breakfast or lunches. It meets both my food restrictions and requirements for maximal culinary joy.

Upon returning home late from a show last night, I had a midnight snack of caprese with burrata, the last two heirlooms lingering on my window sill, and the last of the basil in the fridge. Drizzled with TJ’s Greek Kalamata oil (another YAY), coarse black pepper & sea salt flakes.

Heaven on a plate. I wish summer (and tomato season) never ended…


I need your source for “pasta bears”! Those sound like something my nephew (and myself:) would love!

That was more than 25 years ago and I’m pretty sure it was Mueller’s, but googling around they look to be gone? amazon has a bunch of them, in colors, too, and one brand from Italy (vs., say, China). They have other cool shapes, too, including dinosaurs. My fave as a child was wagon wheels.

Love the idea of you warming up this winter to a bowl of Teddy Bear Soup.

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Meh - Ghost Pepper Potato Chips. Not spicy at all.

Nay - Chicken Balti Pies. Not a new item, but it was my first time trying it. So incredibly bland. I honestly think I’ve had better tasting hospital food. :confused:

YEA - Five-Cheese Greek Phyllo Pie, from the freezer aisle. After baking, I let it sit a while, then rewarmed a slice in the turned-off oven, to have with chili. It was crisp but the cheese was not drippy.

Not necessarily new but my favorite Yays:

Chicken tender dog treats. My little girl’s favorite thing in the whole world. I sometimes pop in JUST for these!
Romaine Lettuce Hearts, (3 for $1.99)
Blistered peanuts, chili lime cashews and roasted sunflower seeds
Feta and other Cheese
Sambal Matah Indonesian “Salsa”. (I use it as a marinade for wings and stir fries)
Tubes of Tomato Paste
Decaf Coffee
Olives, (Picholine, Lucques)

I really don’t buy any of the frozen prepared foods or other produce, meats or dairy there.