Food & Drink

Infusion Confusion: A Not-Too-Serious Look at Suburban New Jersey's Obsession with Trader Joe's

d95c0c5fe899080e951e_IMG_7102.jpg
Sprouts, sprouts, baby! Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
2a2f52e523d23595f1c8_c32f856622ddaf1c04a6_IMG_7104.JPG
Worth a try? Pass it by? Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
33f127e5b744450b0137_b115c30a7317dec7a9fc_IMG_7105.JPG
Kale. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
66736a0f557b3a1eecb5_d8d1fcf82b462b7ccefc_IMG_7106.JPG
C'mon, now you HAVE to try them! Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
95fb7af7b3e1a4dd7506_93c77cc3bf5d77380b85_IMG_7107.JPG
Do they really know? They eat your husband's socks. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
96a905a8f04c182bad57_a37130dc548eab49772a_IMG_7108.JPG
I noted that they were not offering samples of this. Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
3ea20500d30aff0eff99_IMG_7109.JPG
Fun or scary? Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
3965e957fbf9ffe2a9d0_IMG_7110.jpg
Milltown Road, site of the closed A&P. Just saying... Credits: TAPinto East Brunswick
d95c0c5fe899080e951e_IMG_7102.jpg

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - East Brunswick knows how it feels to be left-swiped on Tinder - briefly considered, judged, and rejected.  Ever since Trader Joe's chose to open on Route 1 South in North Brunswick, East Brunswick has been sitting at the far end of the bar, staring down into a flat beer and letting our Buffalo wings congeal.  Why them and not us?  Don't we like fig and olive infused whatevers, too?  Don't we deserve organic foods of known composition but unknown origin, too?

Okay, fine.  Fine, okay?

Maybe having a Trader Joe's isn't the great suburban dream after all.  To be honest, wandering the aisles there in search of mystery products I never knew I wanted makes me feel like I am cheating on the East Brunswick Shop-Rite and Stop-and-Shop.  There's something just not right about it.  Aldi, named after the Albrecht Brothers of Germany who own both that store and Trader Joe's, plays on the Bears' home team.

Sign Up for E-News

Here's a few specific reasons why we should all be careful what we wish for:

1.  Dreaming of Trader Joe's is a sign of our collective low-self-esteem.  In some part of ourselves, we feel that we need to be uplifted out of our Costco mentality that lots of stuff will help us heal our perceived wounds.  We somehow think it's wrong to go to the same store to buy avocados, cat food, shampoo, batteries and scandal magazines.  Trader Joe's, in the words of Peter Frampton, will "show us the way."  

After all, the closest TJ's to us is outside of Princeton. 'Nuff said, EBHS Class of 2018 hopefuls.  Shop at Trader Joe's and your IQ goes up and your SAT scores soar.  We will all be smarter and better looking because we can no longer choose Sunny D or Frankenberry.

2.  We want pretend to care about being "organic."  I know that last week at your Giants tailgate party you poured some hot chili into your bag of Fritos, washed it down with a Mountain Dew, and thought it was the greatest culinary experience of your life. (Stop looking at your feet. You know you did.)  Today, though, you want to be seen as forward-thinking and connected to the earth.  The ample supply of Brussels sprouts on the stem available at Trader Joe's calls out to you, inviting you to change your ways and purchase smaller amounts of things you don't really understand or like so that you can feel good about yourself.

Let's have a look at those sprouts after they spend a couple of weeks in the crisper after the "normal" vegetables come and go. Mine dried up.  did yours get squishy?

3. Face it, some products are just weird.  We buy them once to give them a try because we all like to think of ourselves as adventurous "foodies."  Vanilla coconut beverage?  I have no idea what that is, but it sounds suspiciously like a liberal version of the dreaded "American Cheese Food Product" labeling that my mom warned me not to buy.

Just for kicks, I bought the "Turkey and Stuffing Seasonal Kettle Chips:"  "All the flavor of Thanksgiving in each potato chip." I thought I could cut back on cooking time this holiday and just serve them with a beer.  Wal-Mart offers chips that taste like Reuben sandwiches.  Taste test?

4.  There are so many pumpkin-flavored items at Trader Joe's that it's actually scary.  Pumpkin has very little flavor.  As those of us who are annual pie-bakers know, it's the cinnamon, allspice, and cloves that provide the taste.  This aggressive gourd has taken over an entire season of the year, and I, for one, will not put up with it any more.  The whole pumpkin this is the avatar of a scary cult.  At the North Brunswick Trader Joe's, it is hard to avoid the pumpkins and Brussels sprouts.  #Sinister.

5.  It's hard to describe which is worse.  Listening to pop-music from the 1950's and 60's (sans hippies) or standing in a line named "Milltown Road" when checking out.  As I was considering the possibility of purchasing some "Carrot and Cashew Dip" that was "bursting with flavor," I actually heard the lyric "bright, elusive butterfly of love," which made me cringe in 1966.  At that time, I was riding backwards in a shopping cart of the Union City A&P, kicking my mom in the belly.  Still, I knew bad poetry when I heard it.

Naming the checkout aisles at Trader Joe's is a company tradition, but around here it is not very glamorous.  In North Brunswick, it's even worse.  Plus, I have no time to read the scandal-ridden tabloids or to try to resist the Snickers that line a more traditional checkout line.   They are not even there.  Super-black dark chocolate or green-tea mints are really not worth those Weight Watchers points.

6.  Carrying a personal grudge, I miss the Barnes and Noble bookstore that was displaced by this upstart "you can buy some of your groceries" here store.  The only other bookstores for miles around are the B&N at the Brunswick Square Mall or the B&N at Rutgers in New Brunswick.  Remember the bookstores that used to be spotted all over George Street in New Brunswick?  Remember the coffee bar at Borders Books?  Enjoy those Brussels sprouts while reading the labels on Dr. Bronner's soaps at TJ's, guys.

7.  They do not sell cheap wine at the North Brunswick Trader Joe's.  They do not sell cheap wine at the North Brunswick Trader Joe's.  They do not sell cheap wine at the North Brunswick Trader Joe's.  Have I made my point?

This is just my opinion and I'm putting it out there.  I am working hard on lifting my own self-esteem, and I do not need Trader Joe's to do it.  Every day, I survive the e-mail that says that, once again, I did not win the lottery for "Springsteen on Broadway" tickets.  I move forward without the slightest bit of pumpkin-flavored Brussels sprout cauliflower-crust pizza.

Well, maybe just a taste...

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Franklin Township

New Jersey Heroes Honored for Saving Lives

June 18, 2018

Thirty-eight individuals and organizations in New Jersey were recently honored at the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association 2018 New Jersey American Heartsavers and Stroke Heroes Awards for their life-saving efforts. The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s American Heartsavers and Stroke Heroes Awards is held annually to commend individuals, ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

June 14, 2018

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Dozens of Highland Park Residents Rally Against Recent ICE Detainment of Neighbor, Father of 4

Dozens of community members rallied in front of The Reformed Church of Highland Park on Friday afternoon to voice their opposition towards the recent detainment of local resident Cloyd Edralin by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The rally was planned just four days after Edralin, 47, a green card holder from the Philippines and father to four children who are U.S. citizens, was ...

Hillsborough teacher charged with ‘sexual conduct’ with student

NEW BRUNSWICK - A Plainsboro man and tenured English teacher at Hillsboro High School was being held in the Middlesex County jail today on charges of having improper contact with a 17-year-old student that occurred over a period of five months, authorities said today.

Kenneth Shindle, 27, is charged with one count of engaging in sexual conduct that would impair or debauch the morals of the ...

$200K Police Settlement a 'Total Disgrace,' Reiner Says

RARITAN TWP., NJ – A recent TAPinto report that $200,000 was paid to a former township man after he filed a federal suit alleging excessive force by police here prompted a passionate defense of township police by Committeeman Louis Carl Reiner at last night’s Township Committee meeting.

The suit was filed by Dennis Shuman against the township Police Department and several of its ...

Bridgewater Police: Avoid Mall for Ongoing Police Investigation

June 14, 2018

UPDATE: According to a Nixle alert from the Bridgewater Township Police Department at 9 p.m., the investigation at the mall has been completed, and the mall will be resuming normal business operations.

Police emphasized that there is no immediate threat to the public and no injuries were reported.

Keep checking back for more information.

Related article: Bridgewater Mall Shut Down ...

Students Lead ‘Die-In’ at Congressman Lance’s Westfield Office; Summit Boy Arrested

WESTFIELD, NJ — Seventeen-year-old Summit High School student Ben Schachter was taken away in handcuffs Tuesday during a gun safety “die-in” protest led by local high school students at Congressman Leonard Lance's Westfield office. Lance was not present at the office at the time.

Read: Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman Talks Gun Violence, School Safety, ...

Dozens of Highland Park Residents Rally Against Recent ICE Detainment of Neighbor, Father of 4

Dozens of community members rallied in front of The Reformed Church of Highland Park on Friday afternoon to voice their opposition towards the recent detainment of local resident Cloyd Edralin by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The rally was planned just four days after Edralin, 47, a green card holder from the Philippines and father to four children who are U.S. citizens, was ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 15, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Somerset County Employees' Health Center Opens in Somerville

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and officials from Integrity Health gathered for a June 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new health care facility on East Main Street.

The Somerset County Partnership Health Center (SCPHC) will serve as an on-site health, wellness and care coordination center for employees of Somerset County, the county park commission, the ...

Long May It Wave: Somerville Elks' Festival Salutes American Flag

SOMERVILLE, NJ The Somerville Elks are hosting their annual salute to America, patriotism and the American Flag  June 15 on the green adjacent to the historic Somerset County Courthouse on East Main Street, beginning at 5 p.m.

The Flag Day Country Music Festival features “Big Hix,” a country/western tribute cover band that takes the stage at 7 p.m. for a free 90-minute ...

Summer Camp Programs for Children and Teens Announced By Environmental Education Center

June 15, 2018

BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Each summer, the Environmental Education Center (EEC) in Basking Ridge holds programs that let children and teens explore nature for summer activities that both entertaining and an opportunity to learn about the environment.

The programs are organized and led by the EEC's staff of naturalists.

The EEC is a Somerset County facility located at 190 Lord ...

Somerset County Employees' Health Center Opens in Somerville

SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders and officials from Integrity Health gathered for a June 12 ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new health care facility on East Main Street.

The Somerset County Partnership Health Center (SCPHC) will serve as an on-site health, wellness and care coordination center for employees of Somerset County, the county park commission, the ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...