Friday, November 7, 2008

Trader Joe's 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars: Hooray for Excessive Packaging!

Roommates are great for many reasons. They pay for half the bills, they listen to you whine about bad dates (or lack thereof), and they make watching "the Office" and "30 Rock" exceedingly more pleasant than when watched solo. Alex Baldwin is a funny guy, but he's so much funnier when there's someone else around to laugh at his peculiar antics.

While it is quite favorable to co-habitate with someone who appreciates good humor, the ideal roommate is also a great source of wisdom. For me and my roommate, that wisdom is most often related to food. She is the one who tells me it's okay to not wash my chicken before I cook it. She is the one who looks at my past-the-best-before-date Parmesan cheese and gives it the thumbs up or down. And she is the one who let me in on a little secret: Trader Joe's 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars are pretty darn tasty.

I was a little skeptical at first. I am generally opposed to 100 calorie packs due to their excessive packaging and the inherently processed nature of their contents. Plus, I like to think that I have a modicum of self control and don't need to purchase a product designed to help dieters and waist-band watchers fight back against the temptation of an open bag or container of something not so healthy. I don't need someone to portion out my food for me, gosh darn it!

Well... okay, maybe I sometimes struggle a little bit. Like when I am cranky or eating from a sizable bar of dark chocolate or in the presence of nuts. Yep, I definitely struggle to keep my ingestion of cashews and almonds in check. I blame it on my German heritage. I'm not sure why, but my mom always says it when she can't put down the nut bowl, so I'll take it as fact "because she said so" -- just like my decision to try TJ's dark chocolate bars because my roommate said so.

It all started because of a Dove dark chocolate bar. I was sitting at my desk at work on a Friday afternoon, struggling to keep from cramming the entire thing into my mouth. My blood was charged with chocolate lust, and I could scarcely concentrate on the alignment of my excel documents. During the course of some e-mails with my roommate, I mentioned that I was in the midst of a torrid affair with a Dove dark chocolate bar that I could not put down, and she recommended I try TJ's bars. I immediately inquired into the "snap factor" (a must for me), and she generously offered to give me one of hers to sample.

Despite my negative feelings toward 100 calorie anything, Trader Joe's take on the hot food trend surprised me with its decidedly less noxious taste and appearance. The simple cardboard box contains five .63 ounce individually wrapped bars for $1.99. It is restrained in its advertising of the "100 calorie" selling point -- rather than tattooing the descriptor all over the exterior package, as well as the metallic wrapping on the bars, it only appears on the outside of cardboard box. Furthermore, the individual bar wrappings are more practical than offensive. They allow for easy transportation of said bars -- an important thing for gals like me who need to keep chocolate within reach at all times.

Most importantly, the bar itself is good. And not at all skimpy like I imagined. While long and skinny, the bar is still thick enough to allow for the pivotal "snap factor" that I crave. Biting into the glossy chocolate provides a satisfaction akin to popping the top of a Coke can, and the taste is equally pleasurable. Though I prefer Scharffen Berger dark chocolate (and maybe even the low brow Dove dark chocolate), the quality of TJ's product is compelling enough that I now stock them in my office desk drawer for mid-afternoon emergencies. The 70% dark chocolate boasts a subtle undertone of coffee (which I suspect may be why my coffee-loving roomie is such a fan!) that blends well with the slightly bitter flavor of the Belgian cocoa.

Of course, when I'm in the midst of a chocolate rampage, I'm not really focusing on the notes of flavor. I'm focusing on getting the bar into my mouth as quickly as possible to eradicate another case of the low insulin level blues.

TJ's 100 Calorie Dark Chocolate Bars do the trick quite nicely. And my roommate approves this message.


Esi said...

Can I just say how much I love 30 Rock. It's my all time favorite show and I quote it all the time.

Ok, now for the chocolate. I too, try to stay away from 100 calorie "packs", but I saw this at TJs once and had to try it. I actually used it in a granola recipe a while back. LOVE IT!

Jennifer said... sweet! And, yes, I do approve of this message. And chocolate. I approve of that, too.

mothermayi said...

dark chocolate is that stuff. and yes, I do go to mt. sac! i started in January and it's a lot bigger than I imagined it to be. Btw, your spa post had me wondering what the fruit infused water tasted like...sounds delicious

Heather said...

i love 30 rock and the office! i feel tempted to say "that's what she said" randomly throughout the day. these chocolate bars look sorta nifty!