Culture Desk Dining: Trader Joe’s Edition

The culture desk editors reveal their favorite Trader Joe’s treats, savory and sweet.

Trader Joe’s is a favorite place to get unique, tasty snacks. (Staff Illustration by Marva Shi)

If you’ve ever tried to complete a quick grocery run at Trader Joe’s between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. on a weekday, you know it’s an extremely stressful experience, complete with an omnipresent shopping cart bumper car simulation and lines for days. That being said, when it comes to inexpensive snacks, produce and frozen meals, Trader Joe’s is a college student’s sanctuary. Take it from the Culture Desk — strategically planning a well-timed visit to Trader Joe’s or finding it within yourself to brave the mayhem is worth it for these treats. 

Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers with White Fudge Drizzle ($4)

I’m often referred to as the “grandma” of the group by my friends due to an affection for naps, knitting, Frank Sinatra and oatmeal cookies. While I submit to the stereotypical parallels the first three love affairs suggest, my inclination towards oatmeal cookies is, if anything, a tell of my youth — especially when it comes to Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Cranberry Dunkers. Easily picked out from a large plastic tub, these cookie dunkers are perfect to share among friends and get the party started. Not only that, but the specks of cranberry throughout the cookies give them a signature, feisty flare. The white fudge drizzle atop each cookie is cute and playful, while rounding out the overall flavor. If you too face criticism for having elderly inclinations, there’s no shame in hoarding all of the cookies for yourself and hunkering down in bed with a nice, warm glass of milk. — Calais

Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers ($2.29)

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You know you’re about to buy a good item when the cashier at Trader Joe’s says, “Ugh, I love these.” Every once in a while I find myself walking up and down the aisles, and half the time this bag of chips ends up in my basket, followed by being praised at checkout. You don’t just buy these chips out of the blue. You’re introduced to them, and then it’s all downhill from there (as it is with most Trader Joe’s products). Growing up eating traditional elotes, I was skeptical when I heard of this chip-version, but it’s the perfect combination of spices and heat. Not entirely resembling the taste of an elote, this chip is basically a perfectly seasoned corn chip. I wouldn’t call myself a big chip person, but this needs to be a staple at any gathering or solo-movie night. Pair it with some guac, eat it with a sandwich or on its own as a snack. It’s hard for the bag to last longer than a week. — Bella

Barbeque Popped Ridges ($2)

Not gonna lie, Trader Joe’s makes the best knock-off versions of popular snacks. My current favorite has to be their Barbeque Popped Ridges — a virtual twin of Popchips’ Ridges in Tangy Barbeque. I like my chips packed with as much flavor and seasoning as possible, and Trader Joe’s really went for it with this one. Plus, the ridged surface makes sure that each chip is able to hold onto as many scrumptious seasoning particles as possible. Another man’s overseasoned is this woman’s perfection. — Carol

Restaurant Style White Tortilla Chips ($2)

While I consider nearly every Trader Joe’s snack to be a delight crafted by the gods, my tried and true treat of choice has to be the restaurant-style tortilla chips. They are everything a good tortilla chip should be: perfectly crunchy, sturdy enough to support loads of salsa and expertly seasoned with zesty lime and sea salt. I love to pair them with Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica ($1.79). However, opt for a different brand of salsa if you’re not one for a hint of heat. I am not even embarrassed by the many times I have eaten an entire bag of these chips in one sitting; you’d be crazy not to eat these by the mouthful. — Lauren

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