An ode to Trader Joe’s


Photo credit: Thea Leimone

Claire Leimone poses will a Trader Joe’s reusable bag filled with grocery items. On top of their fantastic food and welcoming stores, Trader Joe’s provides recyclable and reusable bags.

By Thea Leimone, Features Editor

Have you read the Fearless Flyer lately? If not, make sure to take a look and you’ll find a world full of snacks, samples, treats and recipes from the one and only Trader Joe’s.

Upon walking into a store, shoppers are hit with colorful, looping-lettered signs, fragrant flowers, a sample stand, hidden stuffed animals and produce only found at Trader Joe’s. Organic foods go for reasonable prices, something hard to come by, especially in Los Angeles. Workers are friendly in their hibiscus flower button-ups, creating an enjoyable shopping experience. The dynamic produce signs and organization makes for an adventure as you search for your grocery list. Nothing tops Trader Joe’s, and I’m here to give them thanks.

Founded in 1967 by Joe Coulombe, the first Trader Joe’s market was opened in Pasadena, California. Now, the store has whopping 530 locations across the country. Currently owned by Aldi Nord, Trader Joe’s offers a fun experience for the often dreaded grocery trip, with employees called “captain” and “crew.”

Calling back to the Fearless Flyer, Trader Joe’s releases a weekly newsletter that shares the most popular items, recent recipes and the newest, originally-named, additions to the store.

Speaking of popular items and unique names, it’s time for a bit of praise for my favorite Trader Joe’s foods. The infamous “Speculoos Cookie Butter” will have you salivating from the smell alone. Heavenly and addicting, the spread pairs well with any food, or in heaping spoonfuls on its own.

The “Everything but the Bagel Seasoning” will have you obsessively sprinkling your avocado toast and anything else in need of an extra boost of flavor.

The “Steamed Soup Dumplings” are savory and simple. The easy-to-eat packaging creates a perfect way to transport your favorite meal to work, school or even just your bed.

The list of delicious snacks, treats and meals go on and on, but seasons and simplicity are what seal the deal on Trader Joe’s being the best grocery store of all time. New items are brought in on a nearly daily basis; each trip to the store brings variety to your palette in the form of colorful, punny packaging.

Often, new items correlate with the season or nearest holiday. Fall brings a plethora of nutty snacks that pair perfectly with the variety of squash snacks and autumnal breads. Wintertime brings the classic “mini Gingerbread People,” “Peppermint Joe Joe’s,” “Cranberry Goat Cheese” and the “Holiday Vegetable Hash.” These items are the perfect dinner party item or special lunchtime treat, and Trader Joe’s just can’t be beaten when it comes to variety and creative flavor.

Beyond food and flavor, Trader Joe’s’ ambiance is what solidifies the hard sought-after enjoyable grocery shopping experience. Before even entering the store, you’re greeted with cacti, plants, sometimes pumpkins and the longest-lasting (affordable) flowers you’ve ever found. Upon passing through the classic red automatic doors, the baked goods section will draw your eyes and nose. The lighting is softened to avoid the typical shopping headache. Items are marked, and happy shoppers fill the store with their cherry red shopping carts. Friendly and talkative workers are there at your disposal, and nearly every checkout worker is guaranteed to start a conversation with you about food, family or life in general.

Lastly, the store is truly made for everyone. Food can be bought in bulk for families or five or more, and single-serving sizes are possible for independent shoppers. Items come at very reasonable prices, with cereals below $5, 19 cent bananas, $3 pasta and much more for the shoppers on a budget that still want to enjoy the flavor. The store is incredibly kid-friendly with the classic sample stand (currently closed due to COVID-19), balloons and stickers at checkout and the daily hunt for the store’s resident stuffed animal, whose discovery results in a lollipop.

At Trader Joe’s, you are valued as a shopper. The food is good, cheap and fun. The store is curated for an enjoyable experience for the shopper, and anyone and everyone is welcome. Nothing beats Trader Joe’s and its lovable energy and foods.