What happened when 10 of my friends tried 44 of Trader Joe’s Christmas/Holiday exclusives? What a night!
Tasting is believing, and that’s exactly what we did! I had a party and invited over my friends to try 44 items ranging from savory to sweet. (By the way, 44 is my lucky number so the night could only be awesome!)
But first, let’s go back to the idea. I feel like a kid in a candy shop walking into Trader Joe’s at the holidays; treats and surprises around every corner. Kind of like a scavenger hunt too! I wanted to try it all, so I started putting everything I saw that wasn’t usually there into my cart…peppermint this… chocolate that. I knew there was more, though, the not-so-obvious items that were there temporarily. Appetizers and gifts and more. So, I sought out the manager at my local store to see if he could help. His name is Ian Alsen, and I owe him huge thanks. Ian was kind enough to walk me though the entire store AISLE BY AISLE, and show me all the items that are seasonal and that will disappear soon, or most likely will sell out before the end of the season. We even looked at their unique selection of gift items…and I have info on all of those too. I started to wonder what fills up these shelves when it’s not holiday season there were so many options; but that’s a puzzle to solve after the holidays are over…
Even my dogs got in on the tasting. They tasted the dog treats and every night they have so much fun with their doggie Advent calendar. Their opinion: they LoVE Trader Joe’s!
What we didn’t try the night of the party – there’s only so much we can eat, right?? – I listed on the free printable at the end of this post, so you have the most complete list of their offerings.
So here goes, and since there are so many items to review, I’ll list the top 10 right off the bat.
Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom to get your printout to take with you!
In no particular order….10 favorites with sound bites from the tasting party reviewers:
1. Vegetable Pouches (appetizer) – out of all the appetizers we tried new (not including the tried and true brie in puff pastry, which is a holiday must), these were the best and least fragile of the seasonal appetizers. Kind of a veggie egg roll taste, most of the comments were that it would be even better with a sweet and sour sauce on the side.
2. Mini Peppermint Ice Cream Cones – approximately 4 bites of pure joy. One of our tasters said “I don’t like peppermint and these are good!” The rest of the year TJs has other flavors, but grab this holiday delight while you can.
3. Mini Cheesecakes – Creamy, delicious and pretty bites of cheesecake. 3 holiday flavors per box: Maple Vanilla, Gingersnap Spice, and Peppermint. Yum!
4. Dark Chocolate Marshmallows – deemed “dangerous” by our tasting crew. Use them for hot chocolate, in your coffee, or as is!
5. Slicing Brie – we’ve all made a mess of that brie round trying to put some on a cracker. Who knew we needed this, but we do! Just slice it and it fits perfectly on your cracker. Super creamy and tasty. And for rind haters like me….way easier than cutting off the rind.
6. Antipasto Assortment – all ready to go with 2 salamis, my favorite unexpected cheddar, and ripe olives. One of my guests pointed out that this would be perfect to quickly put out for a small gathering or grab couple for a lager crowd.
7. Roasted Creamy Cauliflower and Onion Dip – a great warm veggie appetizer: microwave and serve. Would be good on mini pumpernickel bread slices or chips. It pleased the crowd because it was a little different with the cauliflower. (Check ingredients, not sure if it’s purely vegetarian.)
8. Scandinavian Tidings Gummy Candies – Wow, just WOW on these! I almost didn’t open them for sampling because all gummies taste the same, right? Wrong! These are soft and oh so sweet, more like a fruit snack taste than a gummy. Everyone said the same thing when they tried one and listed it as one of their favorite tastings. The cute ornaments, trees and stars are an added bonus. Do they have them in a Valentine’s Day version?
9. Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s – the entire cookie selection was AMAZING but the Dark Chocolate Covered Joe-Joe’s took the prize. Super decadent, and worth every calorie! There’s even a gift box of a variety of Dark Chocolate Joe-Joe’s – check them out on the Trader Joe gift list.
10. Mini Dark Chocolate Covered Mint Stars – I’m not sure why, but I love things that come in “mini” sizes and so did most of the crew. Kind of like how puppies are so cute when they are small. LOL. These have inspired many Pinterest recipes, because the cute little stars are a perfect topping for cookies and cakes. They taste like a thin mint, sort of, maybe better!
That was our top 10 but there is sooooooo much more! Here’s some quick notes on the other 34 items that we tasted. Don’t forget to check out the printable list of ALL the holiday findings including Trader Joe’s Gift Ideas at the bottom of the page.