As soon as I saw gluten free Joe-Joe's on the shelf at Trader Joe's, I grabbed a couple boxes. But Trader Joe's is a complicated place for gluten free, so I knew I had to investigate before giving them to my son.[pinit]
It was nearly a year ago that we talked about my 7 Ways To Know When a Product is Gluten Free. Packaged gluten free products can be tough to judge, and the truth is that I don't really buy too many of them (as you might guess, I do plenty of gluten free recipe testing around here!). But I do shop at Trader Joe's almost every week, and I'm super grateful for the products they white label, like certified gluten free old fashioned rolled oats to use in No Bake Gluten Free Granola.
But Joe-Joe's are Trader Joe's version of Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies. That means that they're not a white-labeled product (when one company buys another's branded product, but puts their own name on it as agreed upon between the two companies – like the Trader Joe's All Purpose Gluten Free Flour which I reviewed here). Trader Joe's makes these cookies itself. I don't like Trader Joe's “No Gluten Ingredients” designation, which basically means only that the product is free of super obvious sources of gluten. And even if it doesn't state on the package that one of their proprietary products is made on shared equipment or in a shared facility, it very well may be. I have found that out the hard way myself. Really, they could do better and I wish they would.
But I also know that Trader Joe's won't sell any products if it can't offer a great quality product at a great price. I wanted you know to know if you could trust this product, so I investigated.
Since you can't call Trader Joe's directly, there are a couple ways to go about a reconnaissance mission about one of their products. First, you can ask an in-store employee to call Trader Joe's customer service directly. They will get through right away, and will get some form of an answer. But when I did that with these cookies, I was told that they were made on shared equipment and nothing else. I told my son that he most likely wouldn't be able to eat the cookies, but that we would wait for the results of my second inquiry: You can send an email through their online contact form. It took them nearly a week to respond, but when they did, it was worth the wait:
My celiac son went to school with some Gluten Free Joe Joe's in his lunch box today. Meanwhile, I thought he'd be so excited but he said that if it's all the same to me, next time he'd rather have some of my gluten free cookies instead. Chalk it up to … you can't really win. You can just keep trying! Oh, and they taste pretty close to Oreos, too, with a nice snappy chocolate wafer and a creamy center. And cheaper than K-Toos. Worth a try!
P.S. If you haven't yet and there's someone in your life who's anything like my son, please pick up a copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy for 100+ recipes for homemade gluten-free goodness, quick & easy!