Trader Joe’s is a cult.
I grew up completely unaware of any kind of grocery chain called Trader Joe’s. It wasn’t until I shared a house with four other young women, all of whom were devotees of the sect, that I knew it existed. At first I mixed it up with the hillbilly comic strip character Snuffy Smith, but that turned out to be the wrong impression.
Trader Joe’s, in case you still live in the few free territories unaffected by its dictates, is a grocery store. But it’s the best grocery store. Everything from Trader Joe’s, from its chocolate to its hummus to its soup-in-a-cup, is the best ever. Oh, I don’t know this because I’ve shopped there myself; I know because I have friend after friend who has taken the TJ Liturgy to heart and recited it to me. I have had the psalms of praises sung around me for nearly twenty years now.
I have had some food from Trader Joe’s. My religion permits me to eat that which is set before me, even if it’s an offering to the cult. Yes, it’s good. But maybe not the best ever always. And because I’ve heard so much about it, I’m fairly well decided that I’ll go to my grave before I shop at one of those stores.
It’s been a consolation to me that the nearest Trader Joe’s is an hour and a half away, well out of my range so I can ignore it. Recently, though, I felt a pang of alarm when a friend posted a link to a “Trader Joe’s location request form.” She urged others to contact the company and request a store for our town. I was the lone voice standing against the flood of approval, most of which came from other friends of mine. It even included my own daughter (she hopes that the store has raw peanuts for us to boil, which is actually much more of a Snuffy Smith delicacy).
I don’t want a Trader Joe’s in my town. And I said so.
So I was pretty surprised a week or so later to get an email thanking me for requesting a store in my area.
After the initial shock, I messaged a friend, a vocal member of the cult who knows my feelings on the subject — and, more to the point, knows my email address.
So if my town gets a Trader Joe’s, records will show that I was part of the effort. It’s not true. I was framed. The knowledge upsets me, yes. So if you’re a real friend, you’ll join me for some chocolate and wine to assuage my sorrow.
(Trader Joe’s has a really good sparkling Moscato.)