Campus Life

Ramblings From Hell

An Open Letter to Dan Bane, Chairman and CEO of Trader Joe’s

Dear Mr. Bane:

I am writing to you to discuss my dissatisfaction with one of your products. Recently, my roommate purchased a quart of your “pleasantly tart” nonfat plain frozen yogurt containing “live and active cultures.”

I buy all of my groceries at Trader Joe’s and was surprised to find this product in my freezer, as I had never once seen it in stores. I inquired as to whether it could possibly be real frozen yogurt, considering I had never once in my life come across true plain frozen yogurt in a grocery store. “Of course it’s real,” my roommate assured me, “Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell imitation foods.”

In a moment of weakness, I blindly accepted this statement for fact. I dipped a metal spoon into the technicolor carton and immediately noticed the soft, creamy texture that made the yogurt a pleasure to scoop. I became a slave to my first spoonful. It was heavenly — pure, unadulterated nectar of the gods.

Over the course of the next week, I devoured the entire carton. I even used your frozen raspberries to make a tart sauce, which I ever-so-elegantly dribbled over the round alabaster scoops nesting in my ceramic bowl. I never bothered to check the nutrition facts, assuming that nonfat yogurt contained negligible amounts of sugar, zero grams of fat, and a fair percentage of my daily calcium.

I believed I had found a guilty pleasure without the guilt — a fountain of youth, if you will. I imagined being eighty years old and eating that raspberry yogurt on a rocking chair next to my husband, who, thanks to this fat-free, high-calcium dessert, had aged late and gracefully like Robert Redford.

You can imagine my surprise the day I realized that this dream could never come true. I had just concocted a raspberry treat for a striking young lad waiting patiently in the other room of my apartment, after convincing him of the health benefits and the pure pleasure that could be derived from such a treat.

Upon tasting your nonfat plain yogurt containing live and active cultures, he was relieved that he, too, had finally found the dessert of paradise lost. He was also ecstatic at the idea of having found a dessert that contained no corn syrup, since he is allergic to all products containing corn.

“Goodness, I can’t believe it’s not ice cream!” he remarked, “I wonder what’s in this?”

“It’s yogurt,” I answered, “Just pure nonfat plain yogurt containing live and active cultures. But let me check just for fun.”

After removing the carton from the freezer, I was shocked to find that your product, advertised as real yogurt, contained only one gram of protein, 6 percent of the recommended dose of daily calcium, and 13 grams of sugar. Furthermore, the third ingredient on the list was corn syrup solids. We were appalled.

Not to mention that this lad’s health had been compromised.

I was particularly crestfallen, though, when I compared the nutrition facts for this frozen yogurt to those on the back of your single serving nonfat Greek-style yogurt with honey. Here are that product’s nutritional highlights, after normalizing for a serving size of equal weight: Protein: 8.96 g, Sugar: 8.32 g, Calcium: 9.6 percent DV. In reality, these numbers are much higher for your Greek Yogurt, considering its serving weighs 1.5 times that of the frozen yogurt, with a zero percent increase in fat.

How could this be real yogurt if it contains no protein? Is not yogurt derived from milk? The ingredients information on the frozen plain yogurt lists “skim milk” first. If we compare the nutritional values for the skim milk you sell in your stores, a single serving should contain eight grams of protein and 30 percent of my daily calcium. I’m confused. Where did all the protein go?

I am currently contemplating placing the Greek yogurt containers in my freezer to serve as my new frozen treats.

It is disappointing to me that Trader Joe’s would be advertising a product as yogurt if it is not entirely yogurt, which I suspect it isn’t. On your website you claim, “We strip away all the fancy stuff and focus on the important things like natural ingredients and inspiring flavors.”

I doubt that this yogurt is natural. And now, it is no longer inspiring.

It is my hope that you will find some way to rectify this situation.


S. Campbell Proehl

A copy of this letter was sent this morning to Dan Bane, chairman and CEO of Trader Joe’s.