I'll admit that I frequented Trader Joe's significantly more when I lived just a block away from one. All it took was for me to move to a new apartment where the neighborhood Major National Supermarket Chain, Inc. was the closest grocery store, and I never stepped into another TJ's again for years.
But recently, a new Trader Joe's store opened up in my neighborhood, and I happened to walk by it on my way home from work. Three words: It was wondrous. Like a blinding light in the midst of great, chewy darkness.
You know when you haven't had sugar in weeks, and you keep telling yourself that the small piece of fruit you just ate was all the dessert you've ever needed, and then you're at a buffet and the chocolate chip cookies look so good and warm and gooey, so you put one on your plate and tell yourself, I'm going to have a small taste, that's why they are here, but then you eat the whole thing because, come on, it's just a cookie?
That's what this was.
It's no secret that we fudging love Trader Joe's around these parts. So, to celebrate my newfound (or rather, rekindled) affair with the cult-favorite grocery store, I thought it'd be nice to share some new, some new-to-us, summer products our staff is absolutely loving right now.
"I just found the Chili Onion Crunch (Trader Joe's take on chili crisp) a few weeks ago and have been adding it to everything!" —Erin Sanders, senior customer care specialist
"I am absurdly, inexplicably obsessed with Trader Joe's Mini Ice Cream Cones that are two bites (okay, one bite) of pure vanilla ice cream, chocolate-dipped joy. And I'm usually not a honey mustard type of gal, but for some reason the TJ's Honey Pale Ale Mustard really speaks to me. (Probably because it's made with actual beer.)" —Erin Alexander, assistant editor
"Not a grocery item, but my new favorite hand cream is their Rose Oil Hand Cream! I'm absolutely obsessed. It smells amazing and leaves my hands as silky smooth as high-end products 3x the price. I always make sure it's in my bag when I leave the house. (Honestly, as I'm writing this I'm already thinking of going to TJ's to buy three more tubes in case they get rid of it in the near future...) —Rebekah Daniels, account manager
"The Organic Yellow Lentil & Brown Rice Pasta is amazing! I’ve tried so many other pasta alternatives, and usually they don’t come out quite right, but this one tastes amazing, has a similar texture to regular spaghetti, and is very nutritious!" —Megan Guntas, product designer
"I've recently discovered (and am currently obsessed with) three items:
1) Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend: It's made with porcini and button mushroom powder, as well as onion powder and red pepper flakes, so it's savory and spicy and earthy and phenomenal. I love putting it on vegetables before they go in the oven; on rice noodles with a spritz of lime juice and soy sauce—and even on top of popcorn.
2) Roasted Coconut Chips: These are flakes of Thai coconut that have been soaked in young coconut milk and dry-roasted, then lightly sweetened and salted. They are crispy. They are salty. They are delicious! I've been eating them a ton with blueberries and nut butter, or on a Greek yogurt bowl with lemon curd, or by the fistful.
3) Benne Wafer Cookies: Lacy, crispy cookies made of sesame seeds, they're sweet and salty and extra buttery. I ate the whole package (that's 77 cookies) by myself over the course of a week and a half. Oops." —Brinda Ayer, books and special projects editor, Trader Joe's überfan
"The Crispy, Crunchy Broccoli Florets are just the best." —Alik Barsoumian, video producer
"Just stumbled on these Mango and Cream Bars, and they taste like mango lassi. Also, the tomato paste that comes in a tube is so lovely for when you just need a squeeze or two. I've also recently renewed my vows with the Bite-Sized Everything Cracker, which pairs perfectly with the Trader Joe's red pepper hummus that currently resides at my desk for lunch today." —Maggie Slover, copywriter
"But the Mediterranean hummus is sooo good, too." —Megan, again (Go home, Megan!)
"Their Georgia Fuzzies peaches are great. Also, I like their strawberry-chia drink. And they have these crunchy, salty rice snacks that are very good—sorry, don't remember their name! Anyone else know?" —Amanda Hesser, CEO and co-founder
"Ah, the Crispy Crunchy Mochi Rice Nuggets! Joanna's fave." —Brinda (again)
"They're the best!" —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor
As for me? I just discovered their Strawberry Fruit Spread With Rose (if you're like me and strawberry jam is your favorite jam, then this might be your...jam). Macaroni and cheese fans can rejoice in the Mac & Cheese Bites from the frozen section; also there, I was excited to see Green Tea Mochi, Strawberry Greek Frozen Yogurt Parfait Bars, and Broccoli & Kale Crust Pizza (not because there's anything wrong with regular pizza, but because I just really love the bitter comfort of green vegetables, especially after a long night of binging on rice crackers).
All photos courtesy of Trader Joe's.