Last Call: The most underrated Trader Joe’s products

Illustration for article titled Last Call: The most underrated Trader Joe’s products
Photo: Marnie Shure
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One of my greatest internet peeves is when people proclaim that a given property—a movie, a book, a TV show, a candy bar, a fast food franchise—is “underrated,” when in fact they simply mean that they love it. Not to be nitpicky, but these two sentiments are not one and the same! (And by the way, just because you dislike something does not mean that it’s “overrated,” either. I don’t like A New Hope, but its standing in American pop culture feels more than fair.)


But some things we adore really are underappreciated by the masses, and in those cases, it’s fun to sing their praises from the rooftops for all to hear. Trader Joe’s, that much heralded grocery chain that so enchants American shoppers, carries many products that people can’t get enough of: Mandarin Orange Chicken, Everything But The Bagel seasoning, soup starters, and cheap wine, to name a few. With all this love shown to TJ’s, you’d think it would be hard to find underrated products on its shelves. But there is one item that I’ve been buying there for 20 years, one that consistently delights and satisfies, has a million uses, and doesn’t seem to have entire fan clubs dedicated to it (yet): Trader Joe’s Traditional Olive Tapenade. Have you tried it? You can heap some onto a cracker, mix it with cream cheese and spread it on a bagel, toss some into a salad, add it to pasta with goat cheese and a squeeze of lemon—the list goes on. I know people get really excited about Trader Joe’s frozen entrees (and rightfully so), but the refrigerator case has some exciting finds as well, and it’s time they got their due.

Do you have any underrated favorites at Trader Joe’s? I fully understand if you decide to withhold your answer, because I know the old fear: if an item gets too popular, it might not be available to you the next time you go shopping. Still, I hope you throw caution to the winds and show some love to the power players of your grocery cart.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.


Marah Eakin

Their frozen buffalo wings are surprisingly good for what you’d expect, and if you’re too lazy to make them yourself some Friday night.

Also, this is another exercise in bar food, but the parmesan pigs in a blanket in the apps section? pretty solid!

If you have kids, their fried rice is pretty life saving. As is their gnocchi.

Now, if you want to talk about Whole Foods, I want to go on the record saying their brand of chicken nuggets is beyond. It’s the best on the market BY FAR.