Around the 3rd grade, I somehow managed to convince my first-generation Chinese/Taiwanese immigrant mother to buy Cookie Crisp, a product disguised as a breakfast cereal that was actually...cookies. And it was great. Whatever happened to it? If Trader Joe's ever came out with their version of Cookie Crisp cereal, you know I'd hoard it.
So along came these brownie crisps. Actually for a while, I wondered why they didn't name this "brownie crisps" until I remembered the British. If I were British, I'd probably name these "Brownie Biscuits" or something. Crisps = chips. Chips = fries. Lots of room for misinterpretation. Anyway, these have been at stores for a few months now. I got them a while ago with the intention of saving them in my TJ's cupboard for when the rare chocolate craving comes knocking. Except, when I got home and unpacked the groceries, I saw the words "VEGAN" and "GLUTEN-FREE" and let out a huge groan. How did I miss the fine print??
Y'all have to understand - I'm a fan of vegetables (who reviews vegetables on a TJ's blog? ME!), but when it comes to vegan/gluten-free stuff I'm like Switzerland neutral. I don't actively discriminate against vegan foods (*cough HUSBAND cough*), and I definitely would like to try out vegan/gluten-free TJ's foods for your interest and my general enlightenment. HOWEVER, do I actively promote such food? Not really. I promote kale, yes, but that does not equate to veganism/gluten-freeism. I feel a gluten-free/vegan rant coming on, but I'll save that for another day, another post.
Anyways, my visceral reaction to seeing "vegan" and "gluten-free" was more because 1) A won't touch this. Which is fine. More for me. 2) I FULLY expected this to be a non-gluten-free aka NORMAL dessert snack, mostly because I haven't seen this product floating around with the cookies or the baked goods. Those two words made me immediately lower my expectation bar, because more often than not the vegan desserts I've had have been decently okay but not the same.
Tastewise, it wasn't bad at all. I actually like the chocolate flavor because it wasn't overly sweet. The crisp itself has a nice cocoa flavor with semi-sweet morsels scattered throughout. My big issue is the texture. It needs more oil, especially since they marketed this as having "a rich, brownie taste." Texturally, it tastes more like frugality than richness. It's somewhere between a stale crouton and a loofah. I guess they really were going for healthy, even though it wasn't marketed as such. One serving size is 3 crisps, which comes out to 100 calories. I think I'd rather have one of those pre-portioned chocolate/brownie artificially-flavored 100-calorie packs because of the textural superiority there.
It did certainly help me to stay awake at work and I found that it tasted good! Probably also because that was sleepiness and the optimism at the prospect of leaving work that made it taste better. I suppose this could also be treated as a biscotti or cookie to be consumed with coffee. Other than that, nothing more to see here y'all.
TL;DR: Trader Joe's Brownie Crisp. New, vegan, and gluten-free is not always better. 5 out of 10.