The Bánh mì.
The Fat Darrell.
What do all three of these sandwiches have in common, aside from being excellent examples in regional specialties with cult-like followings?
They’re all, unequivocally, the three least desirable sandwiches on the planet earth to make a yogurt flavor out of.
Of course, this begs the question of why in God’s good name would you want to make yogurt that tastes like a sandwich? Granted, I think of a lot of weird shit when I’m standing at an open fridge thinking “geez what’s for lunch?” But to tell you the truth this has never really crossed my mind until Trader Joe’s debuted their Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt.
That’s correct — with nonfat Greek yogurt, as if Greek yogurt has been reduced to some third-rate opening act. Ok by me, if Trader Joe can pull it off. Let’s be real though, putting peanut butter and jelly into a yogurt isn’t like putting peanut butter and jelly into a Pop-Tart. No, this is something only a man in a Hawaiian shirt would be capable of pulling off.
For something produced by a company that supports such an eclectic sense of style, the look and feel of the yogurt leaves much to be desired. It’s more viscous than Greek yogurt ever should be, with a texture reminiscent of nonfat light yogurt that’s been sitting on the counter for too long. The color is, in its most flattering sense, a somewhat stained shade of beige that might adorn a dilapidated beach house. In less flattering terms, the color of your dog’s throw-up.
Moving right along, I’m struck by the presence of small strawberry seeds in the yogurt, a welcomed sign given my uncompromising position in the highly contentious issue of grape vs. strawberry jelly (no offense to you grape jelly loving heathens out there). Yet when I dip my spoon into the gloptuously gloopy mélange of peanut butter and jelly with yogurt, I’m just not getting that burst of unpretentious strawberry jelly I expect. It’s there, certainly, but the prevailing taste is peanut butter. Like real, seriously roasted and even stick-to-your-throat, peanut butter.
This is both supremely exciting and altogether disconcerting.
Let me explain. If it hasn’t occurred to you before now, the bread component is of unquestionable value to the heart and soul of peanut butter and jelly. Not just the sandwich, but peanut butter and jelly. Its glutinous texture and non-offensive taste serve as the perfect medium for the flavors to come together, a perfect balance of salty and sweet to mingle in unison to a Strauss Waltz. Get rid of the bread, or at least something functioning as bread (as with a Pop-Tart) and you remove that which allows the flavors to register in the familiar sense to the taste buds. Not being a taste bud I can’t speak with absolute certainty, but I’m pretty sure each spoonful caused those little guys to send a WTF meme to my brain.
There are a few other minor issues which add to this quandary; a slightly noticeable taste of peanut butter extract (which can be bitter), while the tartness standard in regular Greek yogurt isn’t quite offset by the strawberry sweetness. Probably the most noticeable, though, is the absence of a salty component. A salty peanut butter is the jam to my perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but the saltiness hardly registers with only 40 milligrams of sodium per container.
Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt captures the peanut butter taste we all know and love, but it does so in such an unfamiliar medium that even longtime PB&J fiends will find something disconcerting about taking the plunge with their spoon. Coupled with a tart aftertaste which just has no place with the PB&J flavor profile, it makes for a novelty snack and proof that iconic sandwich flavors aren’t complexly off limits to being shoved into yogurt. But seriously, it’s weird, and one can only handle so much weird at a time from Trader Joe.
(Nutrition Facts – 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 14 grams of protein, 10 % calcium, and 4% iron.)
Item: Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 5.3 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Nails the peanut butter and jelly flavor with uncanny accuracy. Real bits of strawberry. Natural ingredients. No crusts. Probably much better than a cheesesteak flavored yogurt.
Cons: Missing the bread. Peanut butter lacks salty component to add to salty-sweet synergy. Strawberry isn’t as sweet as it should be. Tart aftertaste is just weird. The single most aesthetically displeasing product ever manufactured by a man in a Hawaiian shirt.