Awesome stuff. If you love the sweet/bold/smokiness of Bullseye BBQ sauce, with some additional onion and spice flavors added, you’ll love TJ’s Bold and Smoky KC Style BBQ Sauce.
And if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, well… you should move.
From Wikipedia: Trader Joe’s describes itself as “your unique grocery store”. Products sold include gourmet foods, organic foods, vegetarian food, unusual frozen foods, imported foods, domestic and imported wine, “alternative” food items, and basics like bread, cereal, eggs, dairy, coffee and produce. Non-food items include personal hygiene products, household cleaners, vitamins, pet food, plants, and flowers. Many of the company’s products are considered environmentally friendly.
Trader Joe’s sells many items from any of several of its own private labels. Such labels are quirkily named by the ethnicity of the food in question, such as Trader Jose’s (Mexican food), Trader Ming’s (Chinese food), Baker Josef’s (bagels), Trader Giotto’s (Italian food), Trader Joe-San (Japanese food), Trader Johann’s (lip balm), and Trader Darwin’s (vitamins). By selling almost all of its products under its own label, Trader Joe’s “skips the middle man” and buys directly from both local and international small time vendors.
Trader Joe’s is the exclusive retailer of Charles Shaw wine, popularly known as Two Buck Chuck because of its $1.99 a bottle price in California (although in some locales it sells for over $3 a bottle, due to varying state liquor taxes and transportation costs).
In October 2007, Trader Joe’s started to phase out foods imported from China amid concerns that standards on “organic” products from the country aren’t as stringent as they should be…
TJ’s has done a very nice job with this sauce and like many of the best sauces I try, it becomes a staple around the house for about a week or so, then I miss it like an old comfortable T-shirt gone lost.. I feel incomplete, like something is lost inside me, like a little boy in the woods who can’t find his parents. Just kidding, I actually don’t really care because I typically have another sauce queued up, ready-to-go. Nowadays I have about 10 sauces that are ready to go because I’ve been a bit busy with a new daughter!! But again, this sauce was really damn good.
Enough around already – on to the review!
If there is a heaven, I hope it smells like this. A wonderful bold-sweet-smoky aroma with streaks of onion and garlic. Sweet, yet natural. I could bathe in this stuff.
Before Cooking Flavor
The good sauces go both ways. I have come to appreciate the versatility of a sauce now that I am more comfortable adding a little touch of barbecue sauce to mayo (or Miracle Whip) to create a unique sandwich dressing. It’s not just for grillin and Q’in ! TJ’s Bold and Smoky, especially, is a great uncooked sauce made to sweeten those french fries, onion rings and add zest to traditional sandwiches.
The only possible kvetching I could provide the manufacturers of this sauce would be in its thin leanings. It moved around a little too fast in the bottle and in my experience, this typically manifests itself later as a basting problem – i.e. watery stuff typically doesn’t go on meat well. Gotta say I thought the flavors and everything else in this sauce combined for a total of “11” so removing a star to demote TJ’s sauce to a 4 just seemed like overkill. The sauce was also easier to apply than I would have thought. Good appearance (with natural specks) and color as well.
After Cooking Flavor
As a well tested and selected (TJ’s are the best product selectors I know) sauce, this could do no wrong. The onion and garlic flavors flared up nicely without being too strong, the sweetness settled in to a richer, bolder, smokier flavor. And I couldn’t help but cook up some Boston baked beans on the side (of course with a dollop of this sauce added). It’s wonderful to have 3 TJ’s within a reasonable distance!
Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Sugar, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Spices, Onion Powder, Natural Hickory Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Natural Flavor. Made on Equipment shared with wheat, milk, and soy. Facility processes eggs and shellfish. Bonus points: No HFCS (high fructose corn syrup, the wonder ingredient sometimes blamed for the fattening of America), No preservatives, No artifical flavors. I’d give you 6 stars if I could TJ.
Total Fat 0g
A little high on the sodium compared to other sauces…
Marketing and Packaging
If I had to give some bad marks, it would have to go to pure ugliness of this label. Like the rest of the TJ’s product line, sometimes the product specific qualities are going to take a backseat to the overall brand of TJ’s. In this case, they tried hard to make sure they squeezed in every possible combination of “keywords” that would attract the BBQ sauce buyer, such as Bold, Smoky, KC style. And hey, I’m no expert designer, but the graphics with the big brown text box holding in the letters, just seems a little bit on the weak side. TJ’s is usually so good at packaging, so I guess I just expected a bit more fun. But seeing as this is one of the only sauces they carry, if you go to TJ’s and need some BBQ sauce, that’s going to be your only choice anyway! I thought the sauce would do better if it had something more appealing such as pictures of grilled foods, dripping sauce, and kept the name in smaller letters… oh well.
Trader Joe’s Fan website.