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Name brands vs. Trader Joe’s snacks: which is better?

An analysis of the superior snacking options between various classic name brand and Trader Joe’s treats

I decided to compare name brand snacks with Trader Joe’s versions to ultimately determine the best option.
I decided to compare name brand snacks with Trader Joe’s versions to ultimately determine the best option.

I am a huge snacker. Salty, sweet, crunchy and smooth — you name it. With the school year picking up and exams seemingly becoming a weekly occurrence, snacks are even more crucial. Prior to my next round of midterms, I needed to solidify my selection, and since I — like a large portion of University students — am highly obsessed with Trader Joe’s, I decided to compare name brand snacks with Trader Joe’s versions to ultimately determine the best option. 

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Trader Joe’s Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since my first-year roommate introduced me to Tate’s Bake Shop’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, these crunchy treats have held a special place in my heart. Before trying one, I considered myself a strictly soft-cookie lover, but Tate’s cookies became my one exception. Its lightness, buttery, crispy texture and perfectly sweet flavor combine to form the perfect sweet treat. 

With the high standards set by Tate’s chocolate chip cookies, I was bound to be disappointed when I tried the Trader Joe’s spin-off. After just my first bite of Trader Joe’s Crispy, Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies, I knew Tate’s Bake Shop cookies won the match-up. The Trader Joe’s cookies are much crispier — more similar to a cracker than a cookie, in my opinion. Also, the chocolate chips are smoother in Tate’s cookies, adding to its appeal. Without a doubt, I would choose Tate’s Bake Shop’s Chocolate Chip Cookies over Trader Joe’s Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. 

Pringles Original Potato Crisps vs. Trader Joe’s Sea Salted Saddle Potato Chips

If you’re looking to satisfy a salty craving, ditch the Pringles brand and pick up some Trader Joe’s Sea Salted Saddle Potato Chips. Especially after trying the Pringles and the Trader Joe’s brand back-to-back, the differences between the two are clear. The latter is thicker, more substantial and even more addictive than the former. Additionally, Trader Joe’s Sea Salted Saddle Potato Crisps are saltier and more flavorful than Pringles, which are bland — tasteless, even — in comparison. 

The one drawback to the Trader Joe’s version is the fewer number of chips offered per container. While Pringles containers hold around 80 chips, the Trader Joe’s brand only has about 55. Given the flimsier, lackluster quality of Pringles, though, you don’t get your money’s worth with the additional chips. Compared with Pringles Original Potato Crisps, the Trader Joe’s version is miles ahead. 

Oreo Cookies vs. Joe-Joe’s

Again, Trader Joe’s tops the name-brand version — this time, with its spin on Oreo Cookies. As someone who prefers the cream filling over the chocolate cookie, I strongly believe Trader Joe’s has perfected this snack with the higher cream-to-cookie ratio in Joe Joe’s. Also, the actual cookie portion of Joe Joe’s is a little softer and less dry and crumbly than the original. If you’re searching for a sweet, quick little midnight treat, Joe-Joe’s are the snack for you.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups vs. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups 

I am a massive Reese’s fan, so the results of this match-up surprised me. If I had to describe the mini peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s in one word, it would be smooth. Both the peanut butter and chocolate coating are incredibly luscious and silky, allowing the Trader Joe’s spin-off to melt in my mouth and practically forcing me to reach for more. 

On the other hand, the classic Reese’s peanut butter cups have a gritty, grainy texture, for both the peanut butter and chocolate. This name brand version — however — is much more convenient for snacking on-the-go with each peanut butter cup being individually-wrapped. Ultimately, though, after trying Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, I will never go back.

Pirate’s Booty Aged White Cheddar Rice and Corn Puffs vs. World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs 

Pirate’s Booty has been in my snack rotation since my elementary school days. I love their soft yet crunchy texture and cheesy flavor. To me, they represent the ideal snack — light, perfect for any time of day and delicious. Although Trader Joe’s carries an impressive alternative, the World’s Puffiest White Cheddar Corn Puffs don’t offer enough of a punch to outrank the classic name brand. Personally, I will always choose a bag of Pirate's Booty to keep in my pantry.

Ultimately, before the chaos of assignments, exams and traveling — specifically during the week before Thanksgiving break — unfolds, I recommend stopping by both Trader Joe’s and Harris Teeter or Kroger solely to stock up on snacks. Although Trader Joe’s tops the name brands in most of these cases, there are some classics they just cannot replace.

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