Enter the trail mix section at Trader Joe's: the seemingly endless shelf is packed with nearly a dozen varieties from candy-laden Peanut Butter Cups Trax Mix to healthier, nut-and-dried-fruit-studded Omega Trek Mix. Even though the immense offerings initially overwhelmed us, we were curious to learn which variety reigns supreme. In the interest of saving you from snapping up a dud, we crunched, chewed, and savored the lot. See which winners emerged.
Rainbow's End Trail Mix
Many tasters griped that this mix was boring and traditional and lacked creative flavors. Some also wished that this mix was a bit saltier to help the flavors pop. A few fans appreciated that it tasted like a higher-quality version of the classic candy-covered chocolate, raisin, peanut, and almond trail mix that monopolizes most grocery stores.
Legendary Nut & Berry Mix
While we had high hopes for this trail mix and appreciated the wide range of nuts and berries included, many tasters felt that it was too sweet and could benefit from a heavier hand of salt. We also felt that it was missing depth in both flavor and texture, since the dried blueberries and raisins overpowered more subtly flavored inclusions.
Peanut Butter Cups Trax Mix
Most tasters criticized this mix's peanut butter cups for tasting fake and too sweet. Several others added that the cups were an odd inclusion that overwhelmed the other flavors. Despite the lower rating, one taster felt that the peanut butter cups were creamy and the perfect size and was so enamored with the mix that she went back for thirds.
Macadamias Mix Gingerly With Cranberries & Almonds
This variety surprised some tasters, many of whom had never had candied ginger in trail mix and enjoyed the zingy spice it provided. At the same time, several wished that the ginger split into smaller pieces, making it better dispersed throughout the mix. Overall, we appreciated the combo of salt, sweet, tang, and spice and would bring this along as a snack on a long car ride, since ginger is known to help quell motion sickness.
Nuts About Raspberries & Chocolate Trek Mix
One taster raved about this mix, proclaiming that "anything combining chocolate and nuts is a win!" Others griped that there were too many peanuts, that the raspberries were excessively salty, and that the mix could include a tad bit more chocolate.
Powerberries Trek Mix
This mix was by far the most polarizing. Many tasters loved the chocolate-covered "powerberries" and appreciated the combination of sweet chocolate and tart berries. Others couldn't wait to spit them out, claiming that their "medicinal acai taste was reminiscent of cough syrup" and made them queasy.
Oh My! Omega Trek Mix
We were initially a bit skeptical about the omega-fortified cranberries in this mix but couldn't detect a flavor difference, even when compared side by side with their unfortified counterparts. Once we got past our initial worries, we loved this tangy, nutty, not too sweet or salty mix, particularly thanks to its variety of well-roasted nuts and seeds.
Sweet, Savory & Tart Trek Mix
While perhaps a bit too indulgent for some — one taster even equated it to a deconstructed cookie — we couldn't get enough of this variety that truly lives up to its sweet, savory, and tart name. One minor quibble: in an ideal world, we'd swap out the golden raisins for something zingy to cut through the sweetness, like tart cherries or more dried cranberries.