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The 10 Trader Joe's Products that Shoppers Won't Buy Even During a Pandemic

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | March 13, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | Social Media | March 13, 2020 |


My in-laws live in a farmhouse in remote New Hampshire, in a town with a lone general store and a population of about 300. They have chickens, cows, and goats, lots of vegetable gardens, multiple woodstoves and they live on acres of forest land. My father-in-law was a back-to-lander back in the day, so he knows how to live off the land, and we’ve always seen their place as an escape hatch if things to go hell.

Every once in awhile, then, I have to remind myself that this is not the zombie apocalypse. People will not be lurching into our homes. Given the availability of supplies and proximity to hospitals, a city is a good place to be, too, particularly if you live in a city with a Trader Joe’s. This is Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn this morning, before it opened.

You might think that’s terrible — and it is — but last night, social media was flooded with photos of empty Trader Joe’s stores (particularly in Manhattan). I don’t know how long it can last, but it’s pretty remarkable that this morning there’s enough food in stock again to draw this kind of crowd.

I went to a TJ’s here in Portland, Maine yesterday morning around 9 a.m., and it was packed, and among the goods I picked up were three boxes of their Paneer Tikka Masala. The sweetest elderly woman ever saw them in my cart and came over and told me that those were her favorite thing in the store, and then asked meekly, “Is there still some left for me?” I went back over with her to make sure there was, and there was plenty, although I suspect that wasn’t true by 9 p.m.

In fact, from what I’ve seen on social media, shelves at Trader Joe’s have gone mostly empty, and yet, even where everything else gets bought up, there always seems to remain large quantities of certain products. What products are even people shopping during a pandemic not desperate enough to buy?

Here, there are still boxes of corn poblano chowder.

Cauliflower pizza? NO THANKS.

Chocolate and buffalo hummus? NOPE.

That whole top row of hot dogs, chicken sausage, etc., is being neglected.

Poor carrot spirals.

I’ve seen a few images now where the entire frozen section has been cleared out except for those potstickers. Those potstickers are good, y’all. We had them last night. BY CHOICE.

These party meatballs? Yeah. They’re not great. But listen, pro tip: Combine them with half a jar of TJ’s raspberry jelly and a 1 bottle of TJ’s sweet chili sauce, and you get yourself some really good, fiery Swedish meatballs.

It’s hard to see here without zooming in, but it looks like no one is touching the gluten-free rice pasta and cheddar. Blech.

I’ve seen at least two photos now where the pasta sauce shelves are cleared except for the tomato basil jars. I get that. I still have two jars of tomato basil sauce I bought by accident about six months ago. Hopefully, I’ll never have to eat it.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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