Pasadena, California, is home to many things, including the original Trader Joe’s, me, and the house they used in the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton.
As a regular TJ’s shopper (now living in San Francisco), I’ve walked past the store’s Pasadena salad without nostalgic interest many times before, but last night I stopped and picked it up. After scanning the ingredients, memories of my childhood began flooding in. Sesame seeds, dry rice noodles, chopped almonds, slices of chicken … it all reminded me of a special salad I would get at a restaurant my mom would take me to, which also happened to be in Pasadena, California.
The restaurant, called Green Street, has been serving its signature Dianne Salad for over 20 years. It consists of all the same ingredients (albeit with shredded lettuce), is awesomely huge, and always comes with Green Street’s trademark zucchini bread.
Is the TJ’s salad a copycat? Could I confirm the feeling in my gut without getting the salad into it?
Upon contacting TJ’s headquarters, a nervous-sounding spokesperson declined to comment on the salad, other than to say the company named it Pasadena salad because that’s where the original TJ’s hails from. The manager of Green Street also seemed tense about the situation, confirming that the restaurant is aware of the issue, having been notified by suspicious customers. (However, added the manager, most also said they preferred the Dianne Salad.)
Lump me in with them. The Pasadena’s dressing is way too sweet, and the leaves get soggy too quickly.
You should know that I still love you Trader Joe’s, and that I often think of our relationship as being like the infamous scene in When Harry Met Sally: We’re sitting in a deli and you’re screaming in orgasmic delight about your salad (with the dressing served on the side) and I don’t even care what the other people in the room think—it’s just you and me. But you’re obviously not screaming about the Pasadena salad because it’s honestly not that good … and c’mon baby, just give credit where it’s due.