Trader Joe’s is one of the most beloved grocery store chains in America today, and with good reason. It’s colorful, fun, the selection is great, and there’s always something new to discover. It can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the insanely cool products that stock the shelves, so we’ve tracked down a few that you should definitely know about, but probably don’t.
By 1972, founder Joe Coulombe knew that the average American was traveling more and developing tastes for foods that were impossible to find at the average supermarket, so along with cedar-planked walls and Hawaiian shirt-wearing employees, he rolled out a granola product, the first in a line of foods under the Trader Joe’s private label, which is still going strong today. Coulombe was also a big fan of California wines, and the original Trader Joe’s (which still exists in Pasadena) sold literally every California wine that was available, helping put California wines on the map.
In 1973, a trip to Trader Joe’s would have offered you many items that you won’t find today, like pantyhose, which were sold until 1978. In 1975 they started cutting and wrapping cheese for the first time, and in 1977 they expanded their private label with fun names like Trader Ming’s, Trader Giotto’s, and Pilgrim Joe, and introduced the first reusable canvas grocery bag.
That spirit of adventure and experimentation is still going strong. Trader Joe’s found success by anticipating the needs of its customers, in many cases knowing what the customer would want even before they did, and selling it to them at a low price in a fun atmosphere.
They’re constantly rolling out new products under their private label; here are recent releases (and a few not-so-recent ones) that should definitely be on your radar.
1. Sardines in Harissa
Sardines are coming into their own as a certifiable superfood, and these are wild-caught off the coast of Tunisia and paired with Northwest Africa’s favorite spicy condiment, harissa.
2. Greeting Cards
You can find greeting cards at every Trader Joe’s, and they’re usually cheeky and more original than what you find at the pharmacy.
3. Cookie Butter Ice Cream
Their Speculoos Cookie Butter is one of their most crave-worthy and popular items, and now it’s reached its apotheosis with the August introduction of Cookie Butter Ice Cream: vanilla ice cream swirled with cookie butter, and flecked with chunks of Belgian cookies.
4. Organic Coconut Flour
Did you know that you can turn a coconut into gluten-free flour? Coconuts are dried, de-fatted, ground, and bagged, and it’s high in protein and fiber and low in carbs. It can be used in everything from soups to pie crust, and comes with recipes on the back.
5. Zucchini Fries
Inspired by a Southern Italian recipe, these can be baked right out of the bag and are a great appetizer or side dish, especially when paired with sriracha or tzatziki.
6. Cheddar with Caramelized Onions
Farmhouse Cheddar paired with caramelized onions? Your next roast beef sandwich won’t know what hit it.
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