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Sweet treats: Brand-name snacks vs. Trader Joe’s knock-offs, Part II

Leila Holte
Trader Joe’s makes a comeback against brand-name snacks, earning two out of three wins in the sweets category.

Trader Joe’s is known for its knock-off products of popular brand-name items. In my last article, I tested savory items from Trader Joe’s compared to the brand-name version, and Trader Joe’s won one out of three of the battles. This time I tried three sweet knock-offs from Trader Joe’s and compared them to the original. All brand-name items were purchased at Fred Meyer.

Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with Original Icing ($2.49 / 5 rolls) vs. Trader Joe’s Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls ($4.99 / 5 rolls)

Pillsbury makes numerous products that are staples of American cuisine, such as crescent rolls, pigs in a blanket and classic cinnamon rolls. While baking the cinnamon rolls, I did a quick taste test to compare the icings. On their own, they both failed. While the Pillsbury version was overly sweet with a cardboard box aftertaste, the Trader Joe’s tasted unmistakably of Play-Doh. The strange taste of the icing of the Trader Joe’s version became unnoticeable when on the roll, but the sweetness of the Pillsbury icing remained when on the roll. In terms of texture, the Trader Joe’s roll had a much softer, more pillowy bite and a nicer cinnamon flavor, while the Pillsbury roll had a much chewier texture and milder cinnamon flavor. The clear winner was Trader Joe’s.

WINNER: Trader Joe’s Organic Jumbo Cinnamon Rolls

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups ($5.79 / 10.5 oz) vs. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups ($4.49/16 oz)

The creation of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in 1928 popularized the flavor of chocolate and peanut butter. Today, Reese’s remains one of my favorite candies. Since the original Reese’s are milk chocolate, I compared them to Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. The main difference between the two candies was the texture of the peanut butter. In Reese’s, the peanut butter was somewhat grainy, while in the Trader Joe’s version, the peanut butter was creamy. The Trader Joe’s version lacked saltiness compared to the Reeses. However, because of the importance of the peanut butter texture, Trader Joe’s wins the peanut butter cup battle.

WINNER: Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Cinnamon Toast Crunch ($4.29 / 12 oz) vs. Trader Joe’s Crunchy Cinnamon Squares ($2.99 / 12.2 oz)

Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a classic childhood cereal. For my family, eating it was a special treat. I tried the Trader Joe’s version first and noticed that it had a muted cinnamon flavor. The more prominent flavor, despite not being in the Trader Joe’s version’s name, was toastiness. The Trader Joe’s version seemed to be a mix of golden grahams and cinnamon toast crunch. The original Cinnamon Toast Crunch was covered in cinnamon sugar and had a much sweeter cinnamon flavor. Despite the Cinnamon Toast Crunch being overly sweet, it was still better than the strange toasty flavor in the Trader Joe’s version. Because of this, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the winner in this battle!

WINNER: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

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About the Contributor
Leila Holte
Leila Holte, Reporter
Leila is a junior this year. She is really excited to get to know everyone on the staff, and to be a part of something that is important and central to the Lincoln community. She loves writing reviews and other opinion pieces. Mostly, she loves getting to know other people and hearing their stories and opinions.
Contact by emailing [email protected] and put the reporter's name in the subject line.

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