Sunday, January 18, 2009

Trader Joe's is a cult.

Exam week should not mean random food, says the girl who just tooled through gorgonzola crackers and candy cane Joe-Joe's (sandwich cookies). Oh wait -- those are classy.

Well, questionably so.

I trudged through the six to eight (we'll find out exactly how many) inches of snow today, taking photos with my blockmate and getting mistaken for tourists lurking near John Harvard. Snow was nice, not too icy, or too wet - I call it sugar snow - that is, until the Boston snowplows made it into slurpy brown slush.

After about an hour walking up and down Mass Ave and Mem Drive on our bro-date, we finally hit up Trader Joe's to prove we had done something substantive, other than full memory cards, drained camera batteries, and untouched study guides. I had realized that Sunday afternoon would make for a crowded Trader Joe's, but not this crowded - I mean, c'mon, it's snowing, guys. Admittedly, we didn't follow these standards and we walked a full mile to TJ's; my clogs were filled with snow and my socks were so soaked that I discreetly slipped my shoes off at church.

After some lurking, in which we realized intersession was for eating out and not for frozen food, M and I decided to get snacks for our exams. I hovered near chips and salsa, but ultimately decided on M's recommendation of blue cheese toasted crisps, which, according to the package, had "notes of gorgonzola." My review: At $1.99, same price as CVS sour cream and onion snack crackers. Better texture, definitely greater quantity of crackers, crispier and not buttery. Initially, it tasted remarkably similar to the CVS sour creamers, but then the gorgonzola note (should I say blue note?) kicked in, and then I remembered that I only tolerate blue cheese, not wholeheartedly embrace it as a member of the crumbly cheese family. So the best choice, considering health and taste, between the chips and salsa, sour creamers, and gorgonzola crisps, would have probably been the salsa.

I also got the last box of Candy Canes Joe-Joe's. Now I realize this is probably neurotic in a Woody Allen type of way, but I just didn't understand why I had to pay full price for them, given that they're technically Christmas fare, and probably stocked from at least a month ago (they always restock regular Joe-Joe's, or at least I like to think so). Also, they have higher caloric content than regular Joe-Joe's, and thanks to the candy cane pieces, have the thickness of a Double Stuf Oreo (which are a little bit too thick and cream for me, but at least guarantee I eat fewer Oreos). But thanks to M's "give yourself a guilty pleasure, you just finished your stats final," plus the fact that my roommate and I downed the last box within three days and that the next time we'd be eating them, it'd be nearly 2010, I figured I'd take it anyway. Wow, blockmates, way to be enablers and co-rationalizers.

The line for the register took about twenty minutes - longer than the shopping itself. M and I split up (divide and conquer, baby) into two different lines: I was trapped behind the quintessential ex-hippie-turned-literature-grad-student-roommate-pair (well, I think one silent roomie was biochem, actually) who had a cartful of goods to scan through. I would soon realize that the reason there were two of them was because Biochem would watch the cashier scan and bag the goods while Lit kept bringing more and more food to the counter, which made my wait exponentially long.

That Lit was a cultie. She really was. She talked to the people at neighboring registers, she nearly hugged the cashier, she lilted up and down the Trader Joe aisles, all without the aid of Two-Buck Chucks. It was fine, and I was glad for her, but honestly, I really wanted her to get out of the way so that I could sludge another mile to church in my drowning clogs five minutes earlier. My two items to your sixty-one (I counted, I had time)? Yeah, bring it babe.

I'm a terrible person.

But then she redeemed herself, as she shimmied up to the register and slammed down two plastic containers. She announced - as if she were Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! - "these are the best things in the world." She tilted the container to the man at the next register (now that I begin to think of it, was this entire energetic routine a ploy to hit on him?). I craned my head to see what the blue label said, but I didn't need to, since she continued: "Sea salt brownies. These...(dramatic pause) are like: yum. I know they sound freaky but when you open them, they are heavenly."

Actually, they didn't sound weird at all. Sea salt is good, and when you put it in chocolate it imparts a nice flavor that keeps the chocolate from being too rich. In general, salty things plus chocolate equals yummy. Like bacon. But anyways, I silently acknowledged her for a find, even though I had found my one chocolate-flavored item for the day and sure wasn't going to give up my spot in line after twenty minutes.

Before Lit and Biochem left, Lit leaned towards the cashier and stated flatly, "I should advertise for this place." I thought to myself, actually...maybe. Then I realized that Trader Joe's are filled with these types of people - myself included. They rely on word of mouth for their business: Two-Buck Chuck, which reviews indicate does not taste like more than two bucks (or three, if you're on the East Coast), was largely a publicity stunt. My mom goes to Trader Joe's because my sister raves about their flowers, and we craved their trail mixes before they even opened a location in Minnesota. My roommate tells me to get their chocolate covered almonds because our blockmate, who grew up around TJs her entire life, had some lying on top of her fridge freshman year. The sites I've linked you to above - the topmost site for Google searches containing those terms - are all TJ's fan sites. If TJ has a cult following, then it must be a cult.

Don't question my logic, kthx.

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