The Meaning Behind The 'Try Anything' Policy At Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's puts a lot of effort into generating new hype-worthy products to add to its roster of iconic snacks and ready-to-eat foods, and TJ's fans are always dying to take a bite out of something new and unexpected. But not every new product from the cult favorite grocery store is a hit. Sometimes they flop — and they flop hard.

With new products especially, it's hard to know if you're buying your new favorite snack or something you'll toss in the garbage after two bites. TJ's already has a return policy that allows shoppers to return any item for a full refund, even if you've already opened it and you don't have a receipt.

But there is another workaround for trying products, a TJ's bylaw that gives customers who are in the know a leg up while shopping: the Trader Joe's "Try Anything" policy. You can sample almost any Trader Joe's product before buying. Store employees are encouraged to let you try ready-to-eat or drink items, like salads, chips, pepper-coated salami, or brewed ginger beer, to find out if they're actually worth the purchase.

But just how far does Trader Joe's "Try Anything" policy go?

Can you really 'try anything' at Trader Joe's?

While you can ask to sample most food and beverage items at Trader Joe's, not everything is on the table. Beer and wine are, reasonably, off-limits. After all, it's not an open bar. Raw meat and frozen foods are also exempt from this policy (which makes sense — Trader Joe's employees are not going to cook some frozen dumplings in the back just for you to try). But as for most other foods, you might as well ask, and whatever food you don't finish will be given to staff.

"I love when customers ask to try products!," an anonymous Trader Joe's employee tells Mental Floss. "We're not gonna grill up a steak for you, but something that you can open up and taste, yeah go for it."

But use your discretion, of course. It's not like you've been given free rein to try every item in the store. And you'd be better served to try this on days when TJ's isn't completely packed and employees are running around trying to help other customers. But on a slow day, it's perfectly reasonable to ask to sample an item or two.

Trader Joe's wants to make sure you like what they sell — and they're willing to put their money where your mouth is.