Trader Joe’s isn’t just a place that offers a vast selection of unique and reasonably-priced snacks— it also can teach us a lot about how to cope with mortality. As any loyal TJ’s customer can tell you, the store’s snack universe is finite, and when the bell tolls for your favorite product, even if it’s loss is meaningless/in the name of making room for a new dried fruit and seaweed bar or treat for elderly cats, you best learn to move on quickly. Otherwise, you will become bitter, disillusioned and broke, since your lack of acceptance has translated into shopping at Whole Foods.
I still shop at Trader Joe’s, but nowhere near as frequently as I did in LA, when I had both a kitchen that allowed me to cook more frequently and a car that facilitated shopping for more than just what my then-tan little arms could carry (I no longer had to weigh in a product’s schlep-ability into whether or not it was worth trying). I haven’t lived in LA for some time, but one of my favorite TJ’s snacks back then, one that I would buy tubs of and then let my Toyota do the work, was the dark chocolate-covered pretzel balls. The nuggets were small and mostly air, so they had a fairly small caloric punch, but the salty/sweet ratio was exactly on-point, and the addition of round sprinkles made them look like pellets of nonpareil. They were adorable, tasty, and not-shamefully unhealthy. And then, they were gone.
While the delicious friend we knew as “Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pretzel Bites” were discontinued at least four or five years ago, hopefully to make room for those tiny chocolate dipped ice cream cones or “Inner Peas” snacks, not those disgusting nacho-flavored dried kale chunks that look vague like weed, I still mourn. I have forgiven Trader Joe—death is a part of snack life, and affording all those Hawaiian shirts can’t be easy—but I do not forget.