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Awards season isn’t just reserved for Hollywood. Earlier this week, beloved supermarket chain Trader Joe’s got in on the action, announcing the recipients of its 11th Annual Customer Choice Awards. Just like the Oscars, there was no host for the ceremony. In fact, there was no ceremony at all and that’s probably for the the best; red carpet fashion would likely just be limited to those familiar Hawaiian shirts… although the Two-Buck Chuck open bar would be tempting, especially if they’re pouring some of that organic vino. But I digress.

Related Reading: How to Make Your Favorite Trader Joe’s Products at Home

The list of winners was simply posted on the company’s website and there were some surprises in the mix. Here’s a rundown of which TJ’s favorites were recognized.

Favorite Overall: Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

Mandarin Orange Chicken was on track to become the Julia Louis-Dreyfus in this category, earning top honors for the last three years, only to get Pheobe Waller-Bridge’d by Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend. The changing of the guard isn’t a complete shock. The oft-imitated blend of sesame seeds, garlic, onion, and sea salt has been a longtime Trader Joe’s cult favorite and few will dispute this victory is well-deserved.

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Favorite Entrée: Mandarin Orange Chicken

The Trader Joe’s legend didn’t get entirely shutout in 2020, taking home this coveted award. The crunchy chicken bites glazed with sticky, citrusy goodness continues to get plenty of love and remain the darling of the frozen food section.

Favorite Vegan/Vegetarian Item: Cauliflower Gnocchi

Swapping places with Soy Chorizo, which reigned supreme in this hot category last year, Cauliflower Gnocchi has been a TJ’s all-star since being introduced in 2018. It’s healthier than its potato-based cugino, but still manages to be delicious with just the right chewiness.

Favorite Sweet Treat: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Fans can’t get enough of this multi-Customer Choice Award winner. What else is there to say? Few bites are more satisfying than bittersweet dark chocolate housing a creamy peanut butter filling. Grab a bucket if its not already in your pantry (or freezer).

Favorite Snack: Plantain Chips

Perhaps the biggest upset of this year’s awards, Plantain Chips have taken the snack title away from dual-threat Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels. But for those who have binged on these slightly sweet banana-adjacent crisps, this victory isn’t a huge surprise. If you’re a fan, be sure to try Trader Joe’s Jamaican-spiced Jerk-Style version.

Related Reading: 11 Spicy Snacks That Pack a Punch

Favorite Beverage: Non-Dairy Oat Beverages

2019 was a huge year for oat-based beverages, the vegan and dairy-free milk alternative. Trader Joe’s offerings are among the popular in the space and this award covers both its refrigerated and shelf-stable cartons.

Favorite Produce: Avocados

What’s better than an avocado? How about a whole bag of them. You know the drill: Use these creamy crowd pleasers in guacamole, salads, maki, and, of course, the now ubiquitous toast (Trader Joe’s teeny-tiny options happen to be the perfect size for topping).

Favorite Cheese: Unexpected Cheddar

Yes, the irony of Unexpected Cheddar being the expected winner in the Favorite Cheese category is not lost on us. It’s hard to argue with the results but its only a matter of time before English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions gets its due.

Favorite in Home, Bath & Beauty: Scented Candles

The lone non-food category was topped by the ever-popular scented candle which Trader Joe’s offers in several food-inspired aromas including Lemon Cookie, Honeycrisp Apple, and Mango Tangerine. Ah, the sweet smell of victory.


Header image courtesy of Trader Joe's

David is a food and culture writer based in Los Angeles by way of New York City. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, CBS Local, Mashable, and Gawker.
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