I've been known to drive out of my way when I'm in Knoxville or Atlanta to find a Trader Joe's.
Recent conversation while in the ATL area:
Me: "Let's swing by Trader Joe's on our way home."
Husband: "Waze says it's 35 miles out of our way."
So, like many in the Chattanooga area, I am thrilled we're finally getting our very own Trader Joe's.
Friends and colleagues who have never been to this unique store keep asking, "What's the big deal? What do they have?"
So, we're asking readers to share their favorite Trader Joe's items. You can email Life@timesfreepress.com or answer below.
Meanwhile, I'll get us started with my favorites (I've also consulted with some friends who are regular Trader Joe shoppers). Here are some recommendations:
— Zhoug sauce (pronounced "zoog"). I'm pretty much obsessed with this bright-green condiment. It's a slightly spicy, cilantro-based sauce that originated in Yemen. Drizzle it on tacos, falafel, pizza, salad, chicken. It even works with scrambled eggs.
— Garlic spread dip. Garlicky, lemony vegan yumminess.
— Vegan kale cashew pesto. Tastes better than it sounds.
— Jalapeno sauce. Really spicy but exceptionally flavorful.
— Cauliflower jalapeno dip. Eat cold or warmed up. Perfect appetizer.
— Queso Fundido spicy cheese dip. Gooey deliciousness.
— Bloody Mary Salsa. A new twist on salsa.
— Spinach and artichoke dip.
SEASONINGS AND SAVORY STUFF
— Umami seasoning blend. Umami is the Japanese word that roughly translates to pleasant savory tastes. It can be used in place of salt and added to burgers, soups, stews.
— Everything But the Leftovers seasoning blend. This often gets compared to the flavor profile of Thanksgiving stuffing — thyme, sage, rosemary.
— Everything But the Bagel sesame seasoning. Made from sesame seed, garlic, poppy seeds.
— Chili Onion Crunch. Serve on top of rice. Add to pizza. This condiments add pep and flavor to anything.
— Sun-dried tomatoes. Buy the bagged version. They're not rubbery like some non-oil-based sun-dried tomatoes.
— Dark chocolate Tahitian vanilla caramels. Needs no explanation.
— Dark chocolate-covered honey grahams with sea salt. Perfect combo of salty and sweet.
— Chocolate-covered sea salt butterscotch.
— Dark chocolate almond butter cups.
— Portuguese custard tarts.
— Jalapeno seasoned corn and rice puffs.
— Fig and olive crisps.
— Quinoa-stuffed dolmas (tangy Greek-style stuffed grape leaves). These also come stuffed with rice.
— Everything But the Bagel almonds and cashews.
— Dried pineapple rings with chili seasoning.
— Ketchup-flavored Spud Crunchies. These sound gross, but they're actually kind of addictive.
For those new to Trader Joe’s, here are some basics:
› Most items the store sells are under its private Trader Joe’s label, not mainstream brands.
› The first Trader Joe’s opened in 1967 in Pasadena, California. The company now describes itself as “a national chain of neighborhood grocery stores” and has 514 stores (and counting).
› The first Trader Joe’s store was opened in 1967 by founder Joe Coulombe but owned by German entrepreneur Theo Albrecht, whose family also owns the German supermarket chain Aldi.
› It employs more than 50,000 Hawaiian shirt-clad staffers (known as crew members).
› Trader Joe’s has a decent amount of keto, Whole 30 and gluten-free items for those on restricted diets.
FROM THE FREEZER
Trader Joe's is known for its frozen food. Here are some of the most popular items:
— Mandarin orange chicken.
— Cauliflower gnocchi. Some people love it; others think it's kinda meh.
— Cauliflower tot casserole.
— Philly cheesesteak bao buns.
— Mac and cheese bites.
— Beef and broccoli.
— Frozen Indian bread like roti or garlic naan.
— Thai vegetable gyoza.
— Butter chicken.
WANT MORE INFO?
Trader Joe’s has its own podcast, “Inside Trader Joes,” where the store captains (store managers) and crew members (staff members) talk about things like how decisions are made about new Trader Joe’s products.
— Harissa chicken thighs.
— Shawarma chicken thighs.
— Chevre cheese with honey.
— Carne asada burritos.
— Chile verde burritos.
— Sweet corn, burrata and basil ravioli.
— Sparkling black tea with peach juice.
— Rhubarb and strawberry soda.
— Sparking apple cider vinegar beverage — comes in two flavors, lemon and strawberry and ginger and lemon.
— Italian blood orange soda.
— Trader Joe's is also known for reasonably priced wine and was known for its $1.99 bottles of Charles Shaw wine, often referred to as "Two Buck Chuck," although the price has crept up over the years.
Contact Alison Gerber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6408.