Baby come back. Any kind of fool could see. There was something in everything about you.

By Stacey Ballis
June 19, 2019
Trader Joe's / Bake at 350 / tjexperience.wordpress.com / Ali Goes the Distance / Become Betty / katarations.blogspot.com

No other store creates fans of particular items like Trader Joe’s. But the store will break your heart again and again. TJ’s will invent the perfect treat that you’ll always have in your freezer or pantry, something that will become your go-to solo dinner craving, or the one thing that your kids will eat without fail. You’ll buy it every week, sometimes for years. And then, one day, it happens.

It’s gone.

At first, you think they are just out that day. So, you return later in the week. But there, on the shelf where it has always been, nothing. Or even worse, a product that is similar but slightly different. Case in point, the Thai Lemongrass Chili Peanuts. Apparently, they now make a cashew version, but the peanuts, discontinued ten years ago, were a next-level snack, and are missed by many to this day.

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I polled some groups on Facebook asking who was missing particular items. In one day, I got so many responses I had to create a spreadsheet to keep up with them. One friend said, “I use a lot of Trader Joe’s stuff as building blocks for dinners, and when they take something away, I really have to scramble.”

Here are the top 25 items people are missing the most, divided into categories. And just in case someone from Trader Joe’s is reading this: you could make a lot of people happy if you would consider rebooting some of these long gone, but not forgotten, treats.

Dips

No one makes a dip like Trader Joe’s, and no one is quicker to pull them the moment everyone is addicted. Here are the top heartbreaks:

  1. Herbed Brie Dip. Jamie says “It was seasonal, and then discontinued. I literally teared up when they told me.”
  2. Masala Lentil Dip. Caren and others remember it wistfully as having “The perfect amount of kick, and it was non-dairy. A great alternative to hummus.”
  3. The Three Layer Hummus left a big hole for many. Gabbie said “The cilantro layer was divine.” and Laura “loved having a variety of hummus in one container.” 
  4. There was a big outcry over the Roasted Garlic Salsa, which several people touted as having the perfect amount of garlic. 
  5. Cauliflower Cheese and Onion Dip. It was a riff on the classic spinach artichoke heat-and-eat dip, which they still carry, but several people said the cauliflower version was better and their parties haven’t been the same.

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Side dishes

A lot of busy folks rely on Trader Joe’s to provide quick, easy, and delicious side dishes to round out their meals, only to have those rugs pulled out from under them.

  1. The Biriyani Rice was a fond memory for several. It’s apparently been unavailable for over five years and people still talk about it as being the holy grail of frozen sides. 
  2. The Harvest Hodgepodge frozen veggie mix was also a fan favorite. Wendy said, “I’m bereft. It was my go-to for quick stir-fries, it was the perfect size and mix of veggies.”
  3. Instant Garlic Mashed Potatoes seemed to be mourned especially by parents who called it the perfect easy side, because kids loved them, but they were also good enough for the grown-ups.
  4. The Frozen Brown Rice/Quinoa Blend in a microwavable pouch was also a serious contender for most-missed in this category. Many people loved that it was both fast and delicious, and a step up from plain rice or plain quinoa.
  5. Polenta Provencal inspired much love. Sarah referred to it as “My undoing. So good.” And Ashley “still craves it.”

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Snacks

If I am having a large party or a houseful of guests for the weekend, there is no better place to stock up on nibbles, cocktail party snacks, or little sweet treats to have on hand. Here were the ones that the most people wish would come back:

  1. The Frozen Phyllo Cigars with brie and raspberry. The ideal thing to keep in the freezer for spontaneous guests or an easy start to a dinner party.
  2. The Black Bean Taquitos apparently made a big impression, especially since they were a great appetizer, but also worked as an after-school snack, or even a light lunch or dinner in a pinch. Many said they were their go-to option for vegetarians at parties.
  3. Japanese Frozen Sticky Rice snacks were apparently very popular with parents and kids alike. Celise said, “We were heartbroken when they were discontinued.” 
  4. Vegetable Shumai was another global favorite, people praised the ease of preparation and everyone said that they were always the first thing to disappear off the buffet, and many mentioned them as being the “vegetarian dish that the meat lovers loved.” 
  5. Ginger Cat Cookies still have a lot of fans out there. Anna said “they were a decades-long staple in our house, and one of the only cookies we were allowed growing up. Still mourning their loss after five years.”

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Meals

So many people tout Trader Joe’s as saving them from eating too much takeout. Their frozen and jarred meals and sauces apparently kept many on the semi-homemade cooking kick and were the first thing to reach for after a busy day of work or to have the babysitter heat up for the kids.

  1. Artichoke Gnocchi was a surprising fave, most mentioned making it with the TJ jarred vodka sauce for a dinner that was elegant, easy, and delicious. 
  2. The Pre-Cooked Chicken Breasts and Chicken Sausages were both huge losses. Many people said that they made for quick and easy lunch items or the beginning of dinner dishes. 
  3. The Greens, Beans and Grains Salad was mentioned a lot for being great on its own, or as the base for an added protein like a can of tuna or a grilled chicken breast as the perfect take to work lunch that was the opposite of a sad desk salad.
  4. The Frozen Stuffed Salmon and Stuffed Chicken Breasts were touted as the centerpiece of many a dinner party or quick family meal.
  5. Faith and many others still mourn the passing some 15 years hence of the Duck Sausages and Lamb Merguez. “Full of flavor and very versatile, used in everything from cassoulet type dishes to impromptu paellas. I still look for them.”

Read more: Over 100 Ways to Use Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning Blend

Miscellaneous

So many things fall into this category that it could have been its own article. More than a few people said that they have been known to search on sites like eBay to try and find these lost items.

  1. Lovey Gummy Tummies used to be the seasonal item that helped many people get through February. Emily said “My favorite gummies ever. I would stock up every February, and then they never came back. The penguins are no replacement. I think about them every time I am there.” 
  2. I never would have suspected that Apricot Puree would have so many fans, but people mentioned doing everything from pouring it over yogurt at breakfast, to putting on cheese platters, to glazing holiday hams with it. 
  3. The Cocoa Coffee was also a huge hit with people, and Shannon in particular shared a bond with her mother-in-law over it, and they are both devastated that it was discontinued. 
  4. My personal loss is the Frozen Carrot Balls, little half-inch spheres of frozen carrot, they were amazing for soups, or made a fun side dish when glazed with ginger jam or miso maple butter. I loved how they looked and used to always keep a couple of bags in my freezer. 
  5. And a loss for many in general, and my husband in specific, was the Frozen Plain Unsweetened Steel Cut Oatmeal Pucks. These personal-size servings of cooked oatmeal took only a minute in the microwave to heat up and were a part of my husband’s healthy breakfast for years before they discontinued them. They will still occasionally have the brown sugar or maple flavors, but we have not seen the unsweetened plain version in about five years.

Trader Joe’s is a constant reminder that life is fleeting and nothing is promised to us. A permanent example of how important it is to live in the moment and stop and smell the roses—or the yogurt kale dip. And if your kids will only eat vegetables in the form of one of their treats, you might want to consider a chest freezer. Because once the spinach and kale parmesan balls are gone, they might never come back.

Read more: Trader Joe's Is Selling Kunefe, a Super Cheesy Middle Eastern Dessert

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