On the latest episode of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, store managers dish on products new and old they are excited for customers to try.
Trader Joe's storefront
Credit: Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images

A pre-pandemic staple is coming back to Trader Joe's, but it's not a product. Instead, it's something that makes shopping at the store a little sweeter (or saltier): free samples.

In the just-released episode of Inside Trader Joe's, co-hosts Tara Miller, marketing director, and Matt Sloan, vice president of marketing, share secrets spilled at the Trader Joe's annual captains' meeting, which is a meeting where Trader Joe's store managers across the country can network and discuss new products and announcements.

A standout announcement from the most recent meeting is the return of free samples—or "demo" in TJ terms—for the first time since the start of the pandemic in 2020. And according to the podcast, this is more than just a win for the customers who get some tasty freebies mid-grocery shop. 

Sloan asked select store managers and crew about their thoughts on the news, and store manager Ken from the grocery giant's Somerville, Massachusetts, location immediately answered.

"I think [it's] the conversations with customers," he said. "I think one of the hardest things is we have all these new products that we can talk about with our customers, but we want our customers to try it. I just can't wait to go back. It's gonna be like high fives all around because we have been waiting for this moment for a long time."

Store manager Marie Duncan from Alameda, California, said that it's important to promote products, both new and old, especially to the store's new customers.

"Some of those things that we've always kind of enjoyed, they're just experiencing for the first time. And they're gonna put it all over their social media," Duncan said, with Sloan responding that free samples are therefore "the Holy Grail of advertising." 

As for products to look out for, the store managers did not hesitate to rave on their favorites. They were in unanimous agreement about their vegan bulgogi.

"My wife is vegan and when I took it home, she decided to make tacos. I was just blown away by the flavor," store manager Armando from Yorba Linda, California, said. "You would never think it's a meatless item."

"I'm interested in seeing people who don't normally eat vegan food, try it and realize that, 'Hey, this is actually, this is pretty good,'" Ernie, the store manager of the Westchester location in Los Angeles, California, agreed.

"The Maple Oat Milk is a staple in my house," Mary Susskind from the Trader Joe's Berkeley, California, location adds. Check out the Trader Joe's page for more on this nondairy flavored beverage.

There was also discussion about the products coming to shelves soon, including turkey tips, Toscano cheese spread and cannoli dip. Truffle dip, Cinnamon Roll Joe-Joe's, Grand Reserve pinot noir … our mouths are watering anticipating the products on their way to stores this holiday season. And now, we won't always have to buy them to try them!