Friday, March 10, 2006

I Heart NY

Just thought I'd through a little love to Milton Glaser, the graphic desinger who designed the very famous I Heart NY design. Which I've totally ripped off for my I Heart TJs design, mostly because I couldn't think of anything better. And now that I've found the orginal, I see how nice his heart is (mine was some dumb heart that I made in Photoshop) and I'm a little jealous of his mad graphic designer skillz.

For more about the I Heart NY design, try this link:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

For Trader Joe's, a New York Taste Test

A great article on all about Trader Joe's. The cult phenomena is spreading! And I love this paragraph because it acknowledges the weirdness/dorkiness of loving TJs: small stores, odd selection and people who like to be entertained and educated about what they eat.

The stores are small, the selection is uneven and the corporate culture can be described as dorky. But because its products are often not available anywhere else; because they mysteriously appear, disappear, then reappear on the shelves; or perhaps simply because they often taste very, very good, Trader Joe's has become tremendously popular among Americans who like to be entertained and educated by what they eat, as well as nourished by it.

There's also a section of the article where they acknowledge how Trader Joe's is helping thousands of people who hate cooking eat "home cooked meals". Trader Joe's call is "speed scratch" cooking, but I like to refer to it as Heating Up™. Plus that little ™ is just funnier.

Trader Joe's has also guided its customers into the world of prepared food and precut vegetables — what Mr. Rauch, the president, calls "speed scratch" cooking. "Trader Joe's customers are people who really care about cooking," he said, "but like everyone else in America, they don't feel like they have time to chop all the vegetables, cook the chicken and make the dessert — but they want to be in the kitchen." The stores stock lots of things like precut butternut squash and beets, "simmer sauces" that make quick stews, and marinated salmon fillets packaged with fresh herbs in oven-ready cooking bags. "We are very careful about marinades," Mr. Sloan said solemnly. "Dill can be very polarizing."
Okay I'm dying that Mr. Sloan says that dill can be very polarizing. In market research we call anything polarizing if some people like it and some people hate it. Polarizing is becoming a non-word, just like edgy. Plus I think I'm going to have to immortalize Mr. Sloan's words in a banner. Plus he's talking about my favorite TJs item, the Salmon In A Bag (With The Polarizing Dill Sauce). I'm glad they decided to go with the dill sauce, who knew that dill was so polarizing? Although actually now that I type this, I think Paul doesn't really like dill at all. Seriously what's wrong with you people who don't like dill? It's a pretty bland spice but a very unique taste. I can't say enough about dill.

And the best part about the article, it mentions the first Trader Joe's on Arroyo Parkway in Pasadena. Oh yeah, I see a pilgramage in the future. Mayhaps the first Trader Joe's podcast will be recorded at the first Trader Joe's? Look for it in the near future folks!

And yes I will try to get an exclusive interview for my upcoming podcasts with my New York friend Gabe, who is familar with Trader Joe's because he's lived in California for a couple of years, on how the New York version of Trader Joe's is fairing.

You can read the whole article on website here: (special thanks to Tia for pointing out the article!)

The Wal-Mart of Burritos

Okay so technically this article on Slate, The Wal-Mart of Burritos, is about Chipotle. I heart Chipotle, so I'm going to blog about the article. Trader Joe's is mentioned in the article so I feel I can justify the post.

There are many factors driving increased restaurant patronage. With people working longer hours and seeking greater convenience, taking out—or eating out—makes more sense. Time is money. And for many people, eating out can save time on cooking, cleaning, and shopping. The growth of a dining and food culture has also meant that the cost differential between restaurants and home cooking has narrowed, especially for Bobos who buy produce, meats, and precious specialty items at Whole Foods, Balducci's, and Trader Joe's.

I love that paragraph because it addresses the fundamental guilt that I have from eating out versus cooking. See for the price of one mediocre meal in LA, you can buy a week's worth of groceries. But you also need to factor in how much it "costs" mental for me to cook, if you hate cooking like I do. I hate cooking, I hate planning it, I hate preparing it, cutting things up, making a mess, I hate eating my own cooking because it's usually really bland, and I really really really hate cleaning up.

I guess the point the paragraph is really trying to make is that shopping at Trader Joe's can be just as expensive as eating out, which I kind of agree with. So when you do a price analysis, one meal at a mediocre restaurant can get you a couple of days of groceries from Trader Joe's and a weeks worth of groceries from Vons.

My Heating Up™ method of "cooking" Trader Joe's prepared foods probably isn't that much cheaper than eating at Subway or Chipotle but it's still cheaper than eating at mediocre sit-down restaurants. And it helps me feel like I'm "cooking" and not going out to eat all the time. Because even if I had all the money in the world, I wouldn't go out to eat all the time. But I would probably hire a personal chef.

You can read the entire Slate article on Chipotle and the rise of the restaurants at: