Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Trader Joe's PB & J Bar - Trader Joe's: Voorhees, NJ

Trader Joe's PB & J Bar - Trader Joe's: Voorhees, NJ
We just wrapped up recording for episode 2 of Candyology 101, which was peanut butter themed, and one of the candies we discussed was this sandwich inspired candy bar from Trader Joe's.

In case some of you have never heard of Trader Joe's, it's a privately owned grocery chain that offers products under it's own label, has a selection of fresh produce, and offers a lot of organic and natural products. It's kind of like Whole Foods, but the prices are better, and this place practically has a cult following. (There's even an awesome blog dedicated to reviewing only Trader Joe's products.)  People go crazy for their cookie butter (speculoos) and specialty products, admittedly, I do love Trader Joe's, but I don't think I've achieved cult member status. (I usually go there in the fall because Trader Joe's is the one grocery store that loves pumpkin products more than I do.)

Since I rarely go to Trader Joe's, I really go overboard when I'm there, so to kick off my (very unnecessary) food haul, let's see how this PB&J bar tastes!

The packaging for this chocolate bar features a doodle-like design that is as quirky and colorful as the flavor combination inside. Design-wise, this is certainly cute, and it did catch my eye at the check out counter, but I feel like it not quite complete. If I take my finger and cover up the tan text that says, " Creamy peanut butter and tart raspberry jelly," I like it a lot more. That information is important, so I don't think it should be left off, but maybe if it were in a different typeface, or the same dark blue color as the doodle-text, I'd like it a lot more and the design would seem a lot more cohesive. Then again, I tend to be very nit-picky about Trader Joe's packaging.

Inside, the chocolate bar is sleek, shiny, and textured with perfectly molded lines on each little chocolate brick. I really don't think my photo does this candy bar justice. It was really perfect looking when I unfolded the foil, almost unrealistically perfect. The bar is segmented into little bricks of chocolate that are supposedly filled with peanut butter and raspberry jelly, and it smells bitter like cocoa powder.

Breaking off a piece, you can see the peanut butter filling in the seam, but I don't see any jelly. The peanut butter looks like it might be stiffer and more textured, maybe like a Reese's cup?

I took a bite, and the chocolate started melting instantly in my mouth. (Then again my photo lights tend to get the melting process started before the candy ever reaches my mouth.) The chocolate was sweet, without being overly sweet, and it had a slightly cooling mouth feel and a bitter cocoa powder finish. I like my chocolate bitter, so this was perfect for me. (I'm one of those people who eat the 70% or more dark chocolate bars you see on store shelves.) Inside, the peanut butter was a lot softer and creamier than I expected, and it had a hint of saltiness, which complimented the chocolate, while the jammy portion of the filling was sweet and slightly tangy. I feel like the jam gets lost a bit with the other two flavors, but it still contributes to the overall flavor.

Does this taste like a PB & J sandwich? Not really. The rich chocolatey coating makes this taste more like a Reese's PB & J candy cup than recreate my go-to childhood sandwich, but it was really enjoyable and the jelly is a nice change of pace from other chocolate and peanut butter candies on the market.

My only gripe is that the jelly filling is raspberry. We discuss this a bit on Candyology 101, but I am a strawberry jelly kind of girl, and I would love to see a version of this with strawberry or even grape jam instead of raspberry. The raspberry is interesting, and I enjoyed it, but if Trader Joe's wants to cash in on the nostalgia factor of this sandwich inspired candy, they need to offer a more traditional jelly option. (Have any of you ever eaten a raspberry and peanut butter sandwich as a kid? My house was more of a strawberry or grape household, but maybe we're the odd ones and everyone else ate raspberry as a kid.)
I would say this candy bar is definitely worth trying, especially for peanut butter lovers. I enjoy peanut butter, but it isn't the end-all-be-all of my candy consuming world. Even so, I'd buy it again, but I still would like to see more jelly options.
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