25 Holiday Foods You Can Find at Trader Joe’s

25 Holiday Foods You Can Find at Trader Joe’s

I went into the sweet chocolate peppermint abyss, and I’m here to spill the tea on what to buy and what to skip.

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

When I walked into Trader Joe’s recently, I sensed a change. Nearly every shelf was covered in sweet stuff. The store had essentially become the Trader Joe’s equivalent of Santa’s workshop.

I filled my cart with what I could, doing my best to focus on items from the newest Fearless Flyer Holiday Guide for 2022, inadvertently buying some old non-flyer classics along the way. Then I made my way through this bevy of Trader Joe’s seasonal sweets one bite at a time. Some of it was a delight, some of it was… not. Here’s what to buy, and what to skip.

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Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks

Dark Chocolate Orange Sticks

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

As a fan of the classic Terry’s Chocolate Orange ball that shows up around the holidays each year, I was eagerly anticipating these dark chocolate orange sticks. In practice, I found them super weird. The center is described by Trader Joe’s as “natural orange flavored soft center,” which is marketing-speak for “jelly candy.” It wasn’t like an orange slice candy, though. This jelly was extremely soft, almost gooey. It didn’t work for me, nor was it citrusy enough to really meld with the chocolate. This bag was $3.49, and you can skip it.

Note: Despite their inclusion among the orange products listed in the Fearless Flyer, I don’t think these are technically a holiday item. All of the holiday stuff is indicated by HOL” on my receipt, and this item didn’t have that. So you can avoid these year-round!

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Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark

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This is a win. It comes in a metal tin, which is excellent, and it features a layer of chocolate with a layer of white fudge and then crushed peppermint. The squares are individually wrapped and generously sized. At $10.99, this would make a good contribution to a holiday gathering, an ideal small gift under the tree, or just something to have around the house for snacking.

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Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cremes

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Cremes

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These are like giant Junior Mints covered in candy cane pieces, and I’m here for it. The chocolate-to-mint ratio is ideal, the crushed peppermint stick adds a little festivity. All around a good choice, especially for $3.49.

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Hot Cocoa Polar Bear

Hot Cocoa Polar Bear

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Oh boy. I really wanted to love this. Who wouldn’t? It is a white chocolate bear with stuff inside of it—specifically, hot cocoa powder and marshmallows. The idea is that you melt this dude in some water (or your liquid of choice) and you get a cup of hot chocolate. It costs $1.99, which is a great price for a stocking stuffer. My six-year-old and I melted this polar bear together and were slightly sad to watch him crumple up and melt as marshmallows spilled forth from his festive gut. Observe:

Photo: Lauren Harkawik

We were even sadder once we took a sip of what I would describe as the worst cup of hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It tasted like cheap candy. I’m so sorry. This would have been such a great holiday treat if it were any good!

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Mini Hold The Cone! Ice Cream Cones (Peppermint Flavor)

Mini Hold The Cone! Ice Cream Cones (Peppermint Flavor)

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First of all, these mini peppermint ice cream cones are a win. Second of all, they’re super tiny and, although it is unclear from the image on the package, the actual cone itself is chocolate too. You can get a box of eight mini cones for $3.79, and each is a quick, refreshing, pepperminty delight.

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Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s are the perfect blend of chocolate and mint, with neither element overpowering the other. They remind me of everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookie, even though in appearance and texture they’re more akin to Oreos. I’m a fan. I couldn’t quite tell whether the cream filling itself was peppermint-flavored, but flecks of candy cane pieces are embedded into the cream, so there’s plenty of minty flavor and some added crunch in there, too.

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Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s

Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe’s

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

These are a classic holiday treat: something simple that’s been wrapped in decadence. They have crushed candy canes sprinkled on top, which makes them look nice, and who doesn’t like a chocolate covered sandwich cookie at the holidays? At $4.49 for a sleeve, they’re pricer than some of the other cookie options here, but one was plenty for me, so the sleeve may go a long way. (That said, chocolate-dipped sandwich cookies are also fun and easy to make at home.)

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Milk Chocolate Coins of the World

Milk Chocolate Coins of the World

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Milk Chocolate Coins of the World taste exactly like all the other chocolate coins I’ve had at the holidays over the years, making them a win on the basis of nostalgia, if not the highest quality chocolate. These particular candy coins are made to look like currency from all around the world, so they can also serve as a little lesson in world economies, if you choose. The little pouch is $1.99.

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Minty Flavored Cocoa Truffles

Minty Flavored Cocoa Truffles

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The Minty Flavored Cocoa Truffles are Hershey-kiss-shaped and covered in cocoa powder. They’re minty on the inside, but not overwhelmingly so. They’re an overall very chocolate-forward experience. At $3.49, they’d make a good gift for a holiday party host.

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Jingle Jangle

Jingle Jangle

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Jingle Jangle isn’t new, but it continues to be incredible popular, because it’s incredibly delicious. Chocolate-covered pretzels and mini peanut butter cups are great already, but pair them with balls of chocolate-covered caramel corn and it’s a category of holiday treat unto itself. Each tin is $9.99, and it’s not that much food for what you pay, but a little goes a long way. I will be jingle jangling all the way to the end of this tin and then picking up another before the season is up.

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Jingle Jangle Pretzel Twists

Jingle Jangle Pretzel Twists

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These Jingle Jangle Pretzel Twists didn’t really taste like Jingle Jangle to me. The product consists of large pretzels covered in “peanut butter candy coating” and sprinkled with the Trader Joe’s equivalents of M&M’s and Oreo crumbles. The twists have an indiscernibly smokey flavor, which I can’t quite figure out; maybe the peanut butter coating is extra savory to play off of the sweets on top? Anyway, they’re definitely good, but they don’t evoke Jingle Jangle to me, and they don’t come in festive packaging..

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The Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe’s

The Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe’s

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

Trader Joe’s named theseThe Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe’s.” I might not call them astounding, but they’re solid. They’re Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies covered in four different toppings: 

  • Peanut butter Joe-Joe’s covered in milk chocolate with dark chocolate drizzle
  • Vanilla Joe-Joe’s covered in ginger-infused white chocolate with ginger cookie sprinkles
  • Double chocolate Joe-Joe’s covered in dark chocolate with milk chocolate drizzle
  • Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s covered in dark chocolate with peppermint sprinkles

The Vanilla Joe-Joe’s in ginger-infused white chocolate with ginger cookie sprinkles are my personal favorite; they’re warm and spicy and different from most holiday offerings, both at Trader Joe’s and beyond. Also, the box is a fun shape, which combined with the uniqueness of the product makes it an ideal small gift.

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Dark Chocolate Stars

Dark Chocolate Stars

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These Dark Chocolate Star shortbread cookies are your typical chocolate-covered grocery store cookie, by which I mean they are perfectly fine. The coating of teeny tiny nonpareil sprinkles gives then appropriately wintry Sno-Caps vibes. The cookies themselves are pretty small and the box is pretty big, so at $4.49, this would be a good purchase for a family looking for festive food that goes a long way.

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Mini Gingerbread People

Mini Gingerbread People

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Mini gingerbread people taste just like a classic grocery store gingerbread cookie. They’re crunchy, they’ve got some icing on the back, you know the drill. Though the taste is unsurprising, this product has a nostalgic flavor I’m glad to revisit. Each box costs $3.99, and there are a lot of gingerbread people in there. I could send my kids to school with several gingerbread people in each of their lunch boxes for weeks. I say go for it.

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Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Cookie Folk

Dark Chocolate Covered Gingerbread Cookie Folk

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The gingerbread folk are vastly different than the mini gingerbread people. The package is smaller, these are covered in chocolate, and the gingerbread people (or folk) are soft. I thought these would be a win for me; I like soft cookies better than crunchy ones. However, the flavor is indiscernibly fruity here, and the chocolate feels unnecessary. Put these in theskip” column.

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Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream

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Photo: Lauren Harkawik

At first glance I wasn’t sure about this Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Ice Cream, because it had the distinct pink color of peppermint ice cream products—a flavor and aesthetic that reminds me of medicine. However, I’m happily surprised to report that this ice cream is a delight. It’s basically a more festive version of cookies and cream, but with extra flourishes like fudge swirls that keep things interesting and indulgent.

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Gingerbread Ice Cream

Gingerbread Ice Cream

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Once upon a time, Ben & Jerry’s had a flavor called Festivus, inspired by the holiday celebrated by Seinfeld’s Frank Constanza. Brown sugar cinnamon ice cream, gingerbread cookie chunks, ginger caramel swirl—it was the best ice cream I had ever had, and it was tragically short-lived. Although Trader Joe’s gingerbread ice cream isn’t an exact stand-in, it is the closest thing I’ve ever found to Festivus. Which is to say, it is delicious. The TJ’s version has a “sweet and generously ginger-spiced ice cream base” and ginger snaps. The overall experience is a complete delight. Definitely a win, especially for Festivus fans.

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Dark Chocolate Covered Minty Mallows

Dark Chocolate Covered Minty Mallows

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These Dark Chocolate Covered Minty Mallows are as advertised—marshmallow covered in chocolate, with mint flavoring—but I don’t love them. There are many varieties of marshmallow out there, and my preferred kind is the Jet-Puffed style: big, slightly stiff ones that you eat by a campfire. These are softer, in a way that seems to clash with the hard chocolate shell; overall, the textural contrast here is less than pleasing.

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Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar

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This Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar is a fine enough chocolate bar with a lot of crushed peppermint on it, but the cookie bits that are allegedly part of the equation are all but undetectable. Don’t buy this if you’re looking for a cookies-and-cream-esque experience.

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Favorite Sweets (An Inspired Truffle Collection)

Favorite Sweets (An Inspired Truffle Collection)

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The Favorite Sweets truffle box is filled with truffles inspired by different types of desserts, including Stroopwafel, gingerbread, and Panettone. I like these truffles, but they have a totally different texture than other truffles I’ve tasted: hard chocolate on the outside, caramel (or otherwise goopy stuff) on the inside. More like the chocolates you’d find in a Whitman’s sampler, not “truffles” in the classic sense.

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English Toffee With Nuts

English Toffee With Nuts

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This English toffee is some of the best toffee I’ve ever had, featuring little logs covered in nuts. The tin is $10.99, and if that sounds a little steep, just know that there is so much toffee in it. Like, so, so much. You could absolutely put this out at a crowded holiday party and still have leftovers.

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Winter Wassail Punch

Winter Wassail Punch

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Trader Joe’s says you can serve this Winter Wassail Punch hot or cold, but I really don’t want to serve it at all, because I thought the flavor was offensive! I’m sorry, Trader Joe’s—I love you, but I do not love this punch. It’s spicy and fruity in a way that doesn’t mix, and it suggests a vinegar flavor on the back end of each sip, even though vinegar was never part of the equation. It reminds me of a cinnamon bear, in a bad way. Multiple tries did not improve the flavor.

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Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

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I’m a card-carrying member of the Oatmeal Cream Pie Club, so if you give me a soft, spicy cookie with cream filling inside, I will say “Thank you so very much” and eat it up. These are no different. The gingerbread cookie itself is good and spicy, the cream filling borders on obnoxiously sweet (that’s a compliment; I really like overly sweet things). I wouldn’t eat a whole lot of these at once, but they’re mighty festive.

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Mini Chocolate Mousse Presents

Mini Chocolate Mousse Presents

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The inside of these little chocolate mousse presents, which look like gifts, are a layer of chocolate cake with a layer of mousse on top, all wrapped up in a chocolate shell. These are pretty decadent little bites, so if you’re into rich, velvety chocolate things, these are for you.

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Handmade Candy Cane With Cocoa Center

Handmade Candy Cane With Cocoa Center

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I was excited about this candy cane, which is oversized compared to its average grocery store cohorts and filled with cocoa. My expectation was that there would either be hard or, even better, gooey chocolate inside, like Nutella or something. Breaking it in half to see what wonders were in store, I was surprised to find hard (candy-cane hard) pink matter. Said pink matter does not taste like cocoa. It has an average peppermint candy cane taste, but if you’re looking for a departure from the candy cane experience, this isn’t it. 

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