Not much is certain in this life, but we know at least a few things are true, such as: The Earth is round and our time on it is fleeting; this too shall pass — and the best way to hold on to something is with an open hand. We also know that no matter how much we adore them, at least one of our most beloved products is doomed to be discontinued.
Just look at Trader Joe’s. The beloved grocery chain with a charming boutique bent is notorious for launching mouthwatering treats and food staples that amass a sea of fans — only to pull the plug on the product once we’re all hooked on it. Why does Trader Joe’s put us through this trauma? It comes down to a disappointingly basic reason: these products that we love so much are not loved by enough people. In other words, they’re not bestsellers.
In a 2019 Q&A episode on Trader Joe’s podcast (of course they have a podcast), Mitch Heeger, TJ’s executive VP for marketing and merchandising, said that “We pride ourselves on listening to our customers and we always say that, you know, customers vote with their dollars,” and that “if something’s not selling as well, we’ll discontinue that product.”
So, sadly, no fascinating conspiracy is behind why Trader Joe’s rips fan favorites from our lives; it’s just business as usual. And so, without further ado, here’s a look at 12 delicious Trader Joe’s products that were discontinued all too soon.
1. Trader Joe’s Matcha Joe-Joe’s
Unveiled in 2017, Matcha Joe-Joe’s were a dream come true for green tea lovers who wanted to experience the matcha joy as a creamy filling between two buttercream-y cookies. By 2019, these chartreuse delectables were a thing of the past. There’s really no substitute for these Oreo-like treats, but you can still buy Trader Joe’s Matcha Green Tea as a beverage. It retails $0.99 for a 8.28-ounce can.
2. Trader Joe’s Sriracha Ranch Dressing
Americans just can’t get enough Sriracha hot sauce, and in the mid 2010s, Trader Joe’s got the message loud and clear by pairing the sweet n’ spicy flavor with another American staple: ranch dressing. This tangy salad staple was discontinued in the summer of 2020.
3. Trader Joe’s Coffee Syrup
In October of 2018, the popular Trader Joe’s Instagram fan account @traderjoestobediscontinued, devoted to announcing doomed TJ’s products, announced that Trader Joe’s Coffee Syrup was on its way out. The delicious ice cream topping could also be used to give an extra kick to your coffee or milkshake. You can find coffee syrups on Amazon, but these tend to be more along the lines of concentrates.
4. Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato Soup Crackers
Everyone knows that crackers are perfect in soup, so Trader Joe’s Creamy Tomato Soup Crackers should have been a no-brainer to keep on shelves. But true to its nature, TJ’s discontinued this snack, which cost only a buck per box. If you’re okay with a kick of spice, you might want to check out Trader Joe’s Red Chili Scalloped Crackers which retail for $1.49, or, for something plainer and pricier, Trader Joe’s Everything But The Gluten Crackers for $2.99 a box.
5. Trader Joe’s Chocolate Sunflower Seed Drops
We’ve long had our chocolate-covered almonds and peanuts — but what about chocolate-covered and candy-coated sunflower seeds? Trader Joe’s was surely onto something brilliant when it developed these darling little candies, but they were stolen off shelves and from our lives in early 2019. You can still get tasty but undaring chocolate-covered, candy-coated peanuts at Trader Joe’s for a buck a pouch.
6. Trader Joe’s Green Plant Green Food Beverage
Okay, so it wasn’t the sexiest color (a tarry green) or the smartest name (Green Plant is kind of redundant), but for those looking for a 64-ounce jug of straight-up green juice with a sugar kick, this was an excellent product. It met its dreary fate in 2019 when it was quietly phased out. You can still get green potions such as the considerably smaller Trader Joe’s Golden Oolong Tea for $1.19. Definitely not the same — or even close to it.
7. Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt
Trader Joe’s is possibly the most reliable grocery chain if you’re looking for an innovative seasoning or rub — but not all its innovations stick around. Trader Joe’s Seasoning Salt (which bore a striking resemblance to Lawry’s Seasoned Salt) was discontinued a couple years ago. Fortunately, shoppers have many other seasoning blends to choose from including the mushroomy heaven that is TJ’s Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend, which sells for $2.99.
8. Trader Joe’s Honey Butter Chips
Discontinued in 2018, TJ’s Honey Butter Chips united the sweet and savory in crispy perfection. Trader Joe’s still has a strong novelty chip game going, though: Consider its Everything But The Bagel Seasoned Potato Chips for $2.49 a bag, or its Chips In A Pickle for $2.29.
9. Trader Joe’s Eggplant Cutlets
If you love eggplant parmesan, you were (or would have been) head over heels for Trader Joe’s Eggplant Cutlets, which cut out all the hard work of cutting up an eggplant. Alas, even these must-have frozen foods were killed off in the fall of 2019. There’s no product even close to the retired Eggplant Cutlets at TJ’s but you can find other frozen eggplant cutlets (for varying prices) at other supermarkets.
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10. Trader Joe’s Beet Hummus
Hummus is one of those incredibly distinctly flavored foods that somehow goes well with a million other distinct flavors. There’s even ultra bold products like Dark Chocolate Dessert Hummus by Sabra on the market. But Trader Joe’s was doing something truly special with its Beet Hummus, which made for a beautiful chickpea and beetroot harmony. Discontinued around 2017, the best way to get this taste back is to make your own beet hummus, which allows you to perfect the beet to hummus ratio.
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11. Trader Joe’s Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam
Charcuterie boards across the nation haven’t been the same since Trader Joe’s pulled its Roasted Garlic & Onion Jam in early 2018. You can find similar savory spreads in other stores and cheese shops, but unfortunately they’ll likely be pricier than TJ’s budget-conscious product of yesteryear, like this Roasted Garlic Onion Jam going for $7.95.
12. Trader Joe’s Chili Relleno
Discontinued in late 2019, Trader Joe’s Chile Relleno was one of the few ready-made chile relleno products to taste like it was sort of, almost, made fresh. But as we’ve well learned by now, not even being the best on the market can promise an eternity on the shelves of TJ’s. The best substitute for this product is probably Amy’s Bowls’ Casserole Chile Relleno, which goes for under $4 at Walmart.
Photo Disclaimer: Please note photos are for representational purposes only.
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