Here's what truly separates the Trader Joe's fans from the Trader Joe's stans. It's not whether you're brave enough to face the TJ's parking lot, or if you've made enough room in your fridge for 10 things of cauliflower pizza crust — no, it's whether or not you're so diehard you've started listening to the Trader Joe's podcast. If you don't already subscribe, now's as good of a time as any, because a bunch of new Trader Joe's products for 2019 were just announced on "Inside Trader Joe's."
The episode that the Trader Joe's podcast posted on Sept. 16 was recorded live from the "Captains' Meeting" that took place in New York City, which is the annual meeting with all of Trader Joe's store managers (aka the stores' "Captains") to update them on what's ahead for TJ's. (Spoiler alert: delicious things.) This year, podcast hosts Tara Miller, Trader Joe's marketing director, and Matt Sloan, vice president of product marketing, took the opportunity to talk to Lori Latta, vice president of product innovation, and Marcy Kopelman and Colin Fields, vice presidents of merchandising, about sneak peeks of products coming to Trader Joe's shelves, based on current trends and customer insights.
The podcast doesn't provide exact dates for when we should be able to see these items on shelves (or even if we will — TJ's are all independently run, so some may stock items that others don't), but here are all the details about new offerings we have so far.
Chocolate Lava Gnocchi
Your obsession with TJ's Cauliflower Gnocchi has given way to something almost too delicious to fully fathom: a Chocolate Lava Gnocchi. According to Latta, the new offering was "originally designed to be dessert," but it may very well fit the bill for anyone looking for a meal out of it. "They're really easy to prepare because you just put them in a sauté pan with a little bit of ghee or butter and brown them," Latta shared on the podcast, also noting that they should take six or seven minutes to make.
An "Impossible Burger" Competitor
"This comes from countless emails that we have gotten asking why don't we have an Impossible Burger or a Beyond Burger," Kopelman shared on the podcast, ostensibly holding it up to show the live audience at the time. "So this is our version of it. And what's interesting about this, I shouldn't even be calling it a burger because that is no longer something we're supposed to be calling these, they're patties." The main different between TJ's and other meatless burgers on the market? This one isn't designed to "bleed" the way that other meat lookalikes are.
A Cat Advent Calendar
"Last year we came out with the dog advent calendar, which seemed pretty odd until we got out in the stores and there was quite a following for it," Fields shared on the podcast. "And we heard from our feline-loving customers that we should have something for their cats. So we found it, we developed it and it's pretty cool." Apparently it's full of 24 "magical treats made of salmon and seaweed."
Kung Pao Chicken Mochi Balls
"So the idea of this came from a meal that we had in Tokyo where we had some mochis," Latta shared on the podcast. "Something similar to it that was in a soup and then some that were fried and the fried ones were incredible, so we asked someone to make a version but more flavorful than what we had in Japan. So it's a filling of really spicy Kung Pao chicken. It has mochi on the outside. And when you take these and put them in a toaster oven, which is easier than an oven, or in an oven for about 12 to 14 minutes, they get really crisp on the outside and then there's a chewy layer and then there's the interior and it's pretty wonderful."
TJ's is no stranger to ambitious hybrids — anyone who's taken a stroll through their cheese section knows that — but this crossover may be the most ambitious (and delicious) one yet.
Organic Chickpea And Red Lentil Rizoni
"This one is made with just two ingredients, the organic chickpea flour and organic red lentil flour," Kopelman shared on the podcast. It's essentially a rice substitute with more protein; it will cook like rice and take about 14 minutes to make.
They also chatted briefly about the Pumpkin Spice Face Masks that have since hit Trader Joe's locations, which seems fitting for a chain that has basically become the leading innovator for all things pumpkin spice. So while we don't have exact dates for when these new products are hitting shelves, this may be an indicator that it's sooner rather than later. Keep your eyes peeled and your guard up, y'all — if our obsession with cauliflower gnocchi has taught me anything, it's that the chocolate lava version won't be fully stocked for long.