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Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Price: $1.99 (four bars)

It’s almost summer, which means the days are getting warmer and warmer here in Michigan. And because I work in a kitchen, I’m always hot. When I get off of work, the only thing I want is something cool to eat or drink. Trader Joe’s Fruit Frenzy bars are the perfect cold snack for a hot summery day.

First off, how pretty are these things? The colors are bright and they just look refreshing. The top layer is raspberry, the middle lemon, and the bottom strawberry. And they’re GOOD.

The raspberry section has actual pureed raspberries in it, which means it’s not as smooth and icy as a traditional popsicle. It’s pretty sweet. Now, there are quite a few seeds in this part, because it has the real fruit in it. I didn’t mind this at all – not only did they add a little texture, but it was a constant reminder that these weren’t just corn syrup and artificial flavoring.

The next layer is lemon. This one does not have any fruit bits in it, as far as I could tell. It’s tart. It’s not too sweet. It’s really nice. The best part about this layer is the little part at the beginning where the lemon and the raspberry are mixed together. It tastes like the best glass of raspberry lemonade you’ve ever had.

The strawberry layer is pretty good, but it’s also my least favorite. Again, this one has fruit puree in it, which means it has seeds and little pieces of strawberry. There isn’t anything wrong with the strawberry, but…well, I’m not a big fan of strawberries in the first place.

I am DEFINITELY going to be buying these again. They’re a really good size (bigger than most popsicles), and at only $.50 apiece, they are totally worth it.

5/5

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Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Price: $2.99 (makes 16 cookies)

I’m going to be honest here. I’ve had this box of cookie dough in my freezer for about a year now. I made them a few times last summer, but then they got pushed all the way to the back behind a giant bag of ice and various other frozen foods. I rediscovered them yesterday, with only about 5 cookies missing from the box. I pulled them out and made two for a quick mid-homework snack.

The color of these cookies was a little bit off…they were sort of a greyish tan, though I’m willing to bet that’s my fault. I like soft cookies, so I underbaked them a little bit (the box recommends 12 minutes for soft/chewy cookies, and I went with 10). The edges got nice and crispy, but the middles were still raw and gooey. Just the way I like them! Cooking these things could not be any easier – you throw some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and plop however many preformed cookie dough balls onto it. Wait 10-17 minutes (depending on what texture/degree of crispiness you like) and, voila! Cookies. Hot and fresh from the oven. And you have zero dishes to do. Amazing.

How do they taste? Pretty good! The cranberries are a little sweeter than I would prefer, but it’s okay because there aren’t too many of them. If I had to guess, I’d say there were about 4-6 cranberries in each cookie, which is a pretty good balance. The oatmeal does a good job of counteracting the sweetness, and the dough is delicious. It tastes faintly of brown sugar and vanilla. I made two more for a snack today because I liked them so much when I rediscovered them yesterday.

If you’re in the mood for something quick, easy, and sweet, these cookies are great. They aren’t as good as homemade cookies, but they’re a great substitute if you’re running low on time (or if you only want one or two cookies).

3.5/5

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Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Price: $1.99
According to the package… Vegan/tangerine, pink grapefruit, key lime, lemon

If you’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s before, you need to know one thing: they’re constantly bringing in new products. According to their website, they try to bring in at least 10 new items a week. (Unfortunately, this also means they frequently stop carrying items, too, in order to make room for all their new products. I still miss their potatoes au gratin, and those were discontinued MONTHS ago.) These citrus gumdrops are one of their newer products.

The gumdrops come in four flavors – key lime, tangerine, pink grapefruit, and lemon. The key lime and grapefruit flavors were the two that convinced me to buy the package.

Lemon – the lemon gumdrops are, unsurprisingly, the bright yellow ones. They’re pretty good, except they do have that artificial lemon flavor that’s not unlike the scent of Lemon Pledge. It isn’t bad, by any means, but it’s also my least favorite of the four flavors. That doesn’t mean I didn’t eat them, though.

Key Lime – the white gumdrops are the key lime flavor. I’m a sucker for key lime pie, and that’s exactly what the gumdrops remind me of. They’re tart and have a bright, refreshing flavor. The sugar coating on the outside really blends well with the tart flavor of the gumdrop. I would buy an entire bag of just this flavor.

Tangerine – I’m glad TJ’s decided to go with tangerine instead of the standard orange flavor. It’s a subtle flavor difference, but you can definitely tell it’s not just straight-up orange. It’s the sweetest of the four flavors, and it tastes exactly like a juicy tangerine. I’m not usually a big fan of orange-flavored things, but the slight variation/twist on the classic orange flavor is really nice.

Pink Grapefruit – The pink grapefruit gumdrops are reddish-purple in color. If I hadn’t known that this was grapefruit flavored, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. I would’ve just called it “citrus-y.” It’s a good flavor, but I guess I had higher expectations for it. I was hoping for something closer to a glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. It’s not bad, but it is a little disappointing.

Overall, these are pretty good. They’re nice and summery, which I’m guessing means they won’t stick around TJ’s forever. If you’re a fan of gumdrops/gummy candy, you should definitely give them a shot. The key lime and tangerine are the best flavors, but the other two are solid, as well.

3.5/5

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Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Price: $1.99
According to the package… well…there isn’t any product description, actually. I guess they expect it to speak for itself.

I discovered Trader Joe’s about a year ago, and I instantly fell in love. Before I ever went into one, I assumed it was some hoity-toity, expensive store (kind of like Whole Foods). Imagine my surprise when I realized it’s exactly the opposite and they actually have a lot of great prices. There’s a TJ’s right across the street from my college, so sometimes I stop in on my way home from class to pick up some lunch. Yesterday, I grabbed this.

Yeah, I know how the picture looks. Not good. And that’s entirely my fault – I popped it in the microwave (with a napkin on top to prevent sauce explosions all over my microwave) and then got distracted. I nuked it for a little too long, hence the burned, bubbly looking sauce around the edges. And the napkin pulled a lot of the cheese off, which was sad.

How does it taste, though? Delicious. There’s a ton of spinach in between the layers of pasta, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought it was going to be a mix of cheese and spinach, but there was definitely more of the green stuff than cheese. I’m not usually a big fan of cooked spinach, but it tastes really great in here. It’s not too watery (a problem I usually encounter with frozen, cooked spinach) and doesn’t taste too strong, either. Frozen pasta doesn’t usually have a great texture, but this one did. It wasn’t gummy or flimsy at all.

For $1.99, this was a surprisingly good lasagna. And it was huge. I was full after I finished it, but I didn’t feel weighed down or sluggish. Well done, TJ’s.

4/5