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Watch out, Joe-Joe

Addictive cookie butter tops the list of most popular Trader Joe's products of 2012

Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe's
Trader Joe's No. 1 best seller was a spread made of ground-up cookies. Spread it on your cookies! Photo courtesy of Small Kitchen College
Trader Joe's, Weingart, Alabama Theater
Trader Joe's has only recently arrived in Texas. T. Rudick
Trader Joe's, peppermint Joe-Joe's
Peppermint-flavored Candy Cane Joe-Joe's are an annual holiday tradition.

Trader Joe's has only recently opened in Texas, but one tradition that precedes the discount gourmet grocer's arrival is its annual listing of its most popular, best-selling products.

The list has changed over the years because TJ's product mix changes depending on availability and consumer tastes. In the restless foodie circle, what was new and cool five years ago is old hat today.

As a point of comparison, two years ago, the list still had dried cherries; in 2012, those things, while no less delicious, have faded into nowheresville. Conversely, who could have predicted two years ago that a spread made of ground-up cookies would be No. 1?

Most of these items are available at all Trader Joe's stores in Texas. Dallas has at least two openings slated for 2013, with the store at Walnut Hill Road and Central Expressway set to open first, followed by the much-awaited branch on Greenville Avenue and another coming later to Knox Street.

Here's the list:

  1. Speculoos Cookie Butter. Like peanut butter, except it's made of cookies and tastes like spreadable gingerbread.
  2. Mandarin Orange Chicken. This longtime Trader Joe's best-seller is always near the top of the list.
  3. Triple Ginger Snaps. Little chunks of candied ginger spread throughout this buttery cookie make it a perennial favorite.
  4. Hummus (all varieties). Hummus is hot no matter who's selling it, but TJ's does have quite a few cool varieties.
  5. Charles Shaw Wines (all varieties). A bottle of half-decent wine for $3 is a no-brainer.
  6. Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar Chocolate Almonds. The appeal of this newcomer is not hard to divine: Sea salt is still trending, plus these are vegan.
  7. Frozen Croissants (all varieties). Always in the top 10, because croissants are good but impossible to make yourself.
  8. Dark Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Joe-Joe's*. New to the list, its chocolate coating sent it rocketing past the original (but still popular) Candy Cane Joe-Joe's.
  9. Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels*. Sea salt combined with dark chocolate, currently in favor for its possible antioxidant properties, has kept this item afloat.
  10. Organic Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup. TJ's canned soups are all popular; this one is the standard bearer.
  11. Candy Cane Joe-Joe's*. One of TJ's most beloved items, these holiday-season cookies might rank higher if they were available year-round.
  12. Pumpkin Butter. Pumpkin was a "thing" at TJ's a few years ago, but the flavor has gone mainstream. This is one of the only survivors.
  13. Greek Yogurt (all varieties). Used to rank higher when TJ's was still one of the only places to sell it; now it's evvverywhere.
  14. Pumpkin Bread Mix*. Limited-edition status keeps this passe pumpkin item hot.
  15. Frozen Organic Brown Rice. Fairly new item is a big time-saver.
  16. Joe's Diner Frozen Mac and Cheese. Formerly trendy mac and cheese has graduated to ever-popular staple.
  17. Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries. New item capitalizes on perceived antioxidant/health benefits of acai, pomegranate and other berries.
  18. Nourish Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer. The rare non-food find.
  19. Tomato Basil Marinara. One of the most universal convenience products, recently added to the TJ's shelf.
  20. Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa. Fairly new item is a novel twist on regular salsa; definite foodie turf.
  21. Milk and Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds. Almonds have been touted as healthful, but combining two kinds of chocolate is genius.
  22. Natural Jerky (all varieties). Surprise hit ranks more highly because it has multiple varieties.
  23. Candy Cane Green Tea*. Cross the green tea cult with the Candy Cane Joe-Joe's cult, and throw in a dash of the cult that loves something they can't get year round.
  24. Dark Chocolate Stars*. More limited-edition mania, plus vegan, plus the it's-good-for-you appeal of dark chocolate.
  25. Spinach and Kale Greek Yogurt Dip. One word: kale.
  26. Chicken Pot Pie Bites*. Bite-size anything is a big trend for 2013.
  27. Sipping Chocolate*. Drinking chocolate is an up-and-coming foodie find.
  28. Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels. These preceded the sea salt trend and would possibly fade if it weren't for the fact that these are vegan too.

* Seasonal items.

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