Trader Joe’s, the chain of charming and disarming grocery stores that originated in Los Angeles and has since spread across the nation, is famous for a few things. Patrons regularly fight over parking spots at tiny Trader Joe’s lots. The store made the phrase “two-buck chuck” famous. And, it’s widely believed that Trader Joe’s sells some of the most addictive snack foods in the country. It’s worth noting that Trader Joe’s doesn’t produce these snacks in-house; they’re manufactured elsewhere and then packaged specifically for Trader Joe’s. But, oh, they make driving in circles for a parking space worth the trouble.
Here, now, 12 Trader Joe’s snack foods that are like crack (if crack was packaged in a quirky bag and had a Trader Joe’s label on it):
1. Peanut Butter Pretzels
Generally, when you think pretzel, you think chocolate, right? Well, by filling bite-sized pretzels with peanut butter, Trader Joe’s turns a craving on its head. Bonus? They also come covered in chocolate.
These are like Oreos, but better. Better because the ingredient list doesn’t sound like a science experiment. Better because they come shaped like pumpkins in October. Better because in December, they come filled with peppermint and coated in chocolate and sprinkled with candy canes!
3. Speculoos Cookie Butter
Named for the spiced Belgian shortbread cookie, a jar of this spread has replaced Ben & Jerry’s as the ultimate late night, hand-held comfort.
4. Chocolate-covered Vanilla Ice Cream Bon-Bons with a Cookie Crust
Ice cream bon bons—not new. Ice cream bon bons with a cookie crust? Another Trader Joe’s win.
5. Soy Creamy Cherry Chip Ice Cream
Ah, the dried fruit and nut aisle at Trader Joe’s. It’s full of so many delightful things. Thoughtful trail mix combinations. Superfoods. Dried strawberries that taste like jam. And yes, tucked in there some place are actual Spanish Marcona almonds. Fried in their skins, Trader Joe’s packages them with sea salt in a resealable bag. (This is so you can at least pretend you’re going to save some for later.)
7. Organic Candy Canes
A seasonal item, these beat out the ones you’ll find at Whole Foods because they cost about 500% less. (In case you’re wondering, that percentage was an estimation.) Also, the crunchy canes have a pleasant, clean flavor.
Our resident Sriracha expert Randy Clemens has this to say about Trader Joe’s version: “It’s like both of my favorite types blended into one!” How’s that for a recommendation?
9. Cold-brew Coffee Concentrate
A lot of people drink this straight out of the bottle, no added milk, no added water. It’s smooth—never bitter—and just a tiny bit nutty.
10. Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
Milk chocolate fans unite over these crunchy, melt-in-your-mouth chips. Have just one, we dare you.
11. Plantain Chips
Well hey there, item frequently found at the check-out counter. This small bag of chips looks pretty innocent, but—heads-up health nuts—it packs in the potassium. The chips are also roasted rather than fried, so you can feel better about eating the entire package.
12. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles
It sounds like a lot is going on here, but Trader Joe’s keeps it organized by layering the ingredients within the truffle. A base of creamy peanut butter holds up about a teaspoon of liquid salted caramel. Then, they coat the whole thing in bittersweet chocolate. Can’t make it into the store? Order them from Amazon.com. (They’re eligible for FREE super saver shipping!)
Related: Enchanted Aisles [Los Angeles magazine]
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