Friday, September 18, 2015

Sour T-s & J-s - Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ

Sour T-s & J-s - Trader Joe's: Marlton, NJ
I know, I know! Every other food blog out there reviewed these last month (or earlier), I'm way behind on my reviews, but these are really tasty and I wanted to share my opinion of these limited little gummy letters, even if I'm not the first person to do so.

Okay, let's get started!
The packaging consists of a resealable plastic bag with some colorful direct printing. It's functional, stands out on the shelves, and easily shareable, so the overall form and function are great, but those typeface choices! What were they thinking? Trader Joe's has a cult following, and they have released a lot of great products, but their packaging is always hit or miss. It could be stuck in some kind of unfinished anachronistic time warp, super obnoxious and out of place, or clean and modern. There seem to be no rhyme or reason to any of it.

In this case, the front of the package is colorful and stylized, but easy to read. It gives you this sense of child-like whimsy (so far so good), but the entire back panel is written in this pseudo Curlz MT font that's super obnoxious and hard to read. I think it's fine for the front of the packaging, where the text is slightly bigger, but this smaller text on the back should have been done in something more legible. It may be ugly, but I can still read it. I just don't want to. Just glancing at it is like a dagger to my graphic design heart. I know I'm being nit picky, but really? Come on Trader Joe's. step up your design game! You always start strong, but finish weak. (Design-wise anyway.)

Since the bag is mostly clear, you can easily see that this product is very similar to sour candies like Sour Patch Kids. Whats sets this product apart is that it's only citrus flavors (tangerine, lime, lemon and grapefruit), and that they come in the limited alphabetic letters of "T" and "J." (For Trader Joe's, duh.)
The limited alphabetic shapes actually remind me of something from my childhood. (Warning: I'm about to admit to eating dog treats.) Does anyone remember those vanilla Hartz biscuits for dogs that were sold in the 90's? Do they even still make those? Anyway, as a kid I had a big golden Labrador at my Dad's place, and his girlfriend bought those cookies for the dog and placed them in the cookie jar we had in the kitchen. It kinda made sense, I mean, they were cookies, but cookies none the less. She wasn't home, and my sister and I went in the kitchen, opened said cookie jar, assumed they were some kind of alphabet themed kids cookies, and ate a few handfuls. She came home from wherever she was, saw us eating the biscuits, and flipped out. To be honest, looking back, I remember they tasted pretty darn good. Kind of like animal crackers, but who puts dog treats in a cookie jar anyway? I wish I could say they gave us clean teeth and removed plaque, which would have helped with my dental bills down the line, but I can't. Okay, enough rambling, back to the real review!
There are four flavors in the package, and each one is a different citrus fruit. 
Red (Grapefruit) - First of all, I'm surprised that the grapefruit flavored one isn't pink. It's red! How did that happen? Maybe they felt a pale pink color would make the mix look too one-note? I mean, the lime and lemon are nearly identical to the naked eye, so maybe they wanted to change things up with a more vibrant color? It looks a bit unexpected, but it tastes great. The outside coating is rough and a little bitter, but the gummy underneath is sweet, zesty, and chewy. The chew is a bit denser than Sour Patch Kids, but the overall candy concept is the same. I really liked this flavor a lot, and I found it really refreshing. (Why aren't there more grapefruit candies in America?)
Lemon (pale yellow) - This one is really lightly colored and it looks almost exactly like the lime version. It photographed with a lot more contrast, but as I snacked on them, I had a difficult time distinguishing the two. This one is the sourest of the bunch, but it's no where near as sour as Super Lemon or a Warhead. This is tangy and tart, kind of like the lemon juice that comes in those plastic lemon-shaped squeeze bottles. It's a bit concentrated, but still authentic and very refreshing. 
Lime (pale green) - These look a LOT less green in person. As I said earlier, unless you're paying very close attention, you can easily mix this up with the lemon. Again, we have the same sour sugary outside, but the gummy underneath is really authentically flavored! It's amazing! This tastes like the filling of a delicious Key Lime pie, but in a gummy form and covered in citric acid infused sanding sugar. I love lime candies, and even though I love all four, this is easily my favorite. This is the most authentic lime flavored candy I've ever reviewed! 
Tangerine (orange) -   This one is the least intense as far as flavoring, it's not overly juicy, or tangy, or even zesty. It's just a nice, well balanced, citrus flavoring (which is really similar to plain orange) and it's very enjoyable. Even though it's not as mind blowingly good as the lime, this is still way tastier than the Sour Patch counterpart. 
These candies are great! Even though the flavors are limited to one fruity family, I really don't mind. Each one is well balanced and mouth watering. They are zesty, sweet, juicy and sour all at once and, in my opinion, these are WAY tastier than Sour Patch Kids. If there was just a bit more flavor variety added to the mix (I'd love to see a watermelon, or a strawberry), it would be 100% perfect. You may not be able to spell anything with them, but I'm pretty sure they won't last long enough for that to even be an issue.

If you like Sour Patch Kids, gum drops, and tangy citrus fruits, these are amazing and I can't recommend them enough. I'll definitely be buying more if they're still available.
© Maria Smith
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