Photos: Kevin Pang

25 Trader Joe's holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

We taste-tested every one of these Trader Joe’s holiday-themed food and drinks in one sitting, God help us.

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25. Chocolate Peppermint Almond Beverage

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Tastes like Christmas-flavored Ensure.


24. Fruit Fancies

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Apricot, fig, and cherry paste rolled in sesame seed or coconut. This is something grandma used to save her nickels to buy, before candies and flavor existed.


23. Peppermint Hot Chocolate

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Alluring premise, disappointing execution. Overwhelming menthol flavor, like someone had squirted Colgate into hot cocoa.


22. Lebkuchen Cookies

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A German Christmas classic for people with inflamed gums. Can a cookie be disappointingly soft? This one is. (Also, were we supposed to eat the paper?)


21. Peppermint Cremes

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A York Peppermint Pattie, but somehow chewier, plus it gets stuck in your molars.


20. Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows

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Like the peppermint cremes, these marshmallows suffer from the same toothsome, artificial-tasting fate.


19. Ugly Sweater Cookie Kit

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Comes with eight cookies, packaged icing, and sprinkles. Fun if you enjoy exerting much artistic effort only to destroy it in seconds.


18. Egg Nog

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Classic, velvety, a note of spice—now let’s rum this joint.


17. Chocolate Chip Panettone

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Surprisingly creamy, not a desiccated loaf like many panettone. Thought this tasted boozy, but it was the tang of the sourdough. Oh Lordy would this be great as French toast.


16. Winter Snowflake Pasta

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

It’s pasta.


15. Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Cider vinegary with a light effervescence. You could barely discern the cranberry or apple over the fermented black tea, though.


14. Dark Chocolate Orange

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The most divisive of chocolate-covered fruits! Pro: Smashing one open! Con: That 1970s-reminiscent artificial orange perfume.


13. Winter Wassail

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Potpourri flavors of apple and blackcurrant juice, orange peel—like mulled wine without the booze. In other words: add booze.


12. Mini Gingerbread Men

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Delightfully crunchy, not too sweet, just enough spice.


11. Scandinavian Tidings

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

For a gummy candy, this has a soft and luxurious texture.


10. Candy Cane Green Tea

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A decaf mint tea with orange peel spice and a subtle, rounded flavor of vanilla.


9. Spiced Cider

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Sometimes cider can be cloying with spice, but not here. The allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and citrus peel flavors are more a gentle reminder than overbearing presence.


8. Sugar Plum Jam

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Like a cherry butter minus the tart zing, with a subtle and soothing citrus peel undertow.


7. Wintry Blend Ground Coffee

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

A medium-dark roast with clove, cinnamon and peppercorn flavors. Trade your pumpkin spice for this festive-tasting brew. It’s winter, all the pumpkins are dead now anyway.


6. Chocolate Covered Pretzel Twist Assortment

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Comes in three varieties, including peppermint dark chocolate, almond dark chocolate, and milk chocolate with rainbow sprinkles. Hefty pretzels, thick chocolate coating—feels substantial and indulgent.


5. Winter Tea Cookie Duo

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Cute, tiny, proper cookies for dipping. The gingerbread offers a light spicing and a meltingly smooth icing. The hot cocoa variety tastes like Swiss Miss in cookie form, down to the marshmallow icing!


4. Peppermint Pretzel Slims

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

An addictive chip-like crunch, and the saltiness offers an appealing counterpoint to the peppermint exterior.


3. Jingle Jangle

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A Trader Joe’s classic, featuring an assorted tray of chocolate-covered popcorn, pretzels, and joe joe’s, with mini peanut butter cups and milk chocolate candy. A constellation of crunch and chocolate with every bite.


2. Peppermint Bark

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A thick, rich hunk of peppermint dark chocolate, layered with white truffle fudge, then embedded with bits of crunchy candy cane pieces. This feels like a millionaire’s version of Frango mints.


1. Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s

Illustration for article titled 25 Trader Joes holiday treats, ranked from disgusting to divine

Ladies and gentlemen, we have captured Christmas in handheld form. A mathematically perfect proportion of dark chocolate coating to interior cookie crunch with candy cane sprinkles. Leave this out for Santa instead.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

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DISCUSSION

liztaylorsearrings
LizTaylorsEarrings

Not to sounds like a 90s comedian but what’s the deal with Trader Joe’s?

Everyone (=Americans, but not even all Americans?) on the internet seems to be horny for TJs. It’s a grocery store, right? With some good own-brand stuff?

Anyway they’ll never cross the border up here our supermarket consortium is just too powerful (“ALL HAIL LOBLAWS, BRINGER OF PRESIDENT’S CHOICE AND JOE FRESH. FORGIVE ME FOR GOING TO SOBEYS”).