Does Trader Joe's Have An Official Mascot?

From its humble beginning as a small chain in Southern Californian trying to find itself in the 1970s, even at one point selling pantyhose, Trader Joe's has turned into one of America's favorite grocery stores today. Its cult-like following comes from its eccentric culture and its crazy popular food items that can't be found anywhere else. Ask any fanatic and they will tell you that shopping at Trader Joe's is just a different experience than any traditional supermarket. Attractive prices, sure, but it's the unique snack items, exotic cheeses, and of course endless frozen gourmet pizzas that turn customers into addicts. Many of the items offered at Trader Joe's are under its own private label, and well before it became trendy, the store focused on organic foods and even made reusable grocery bags. 

All of this combined has established Trader Joe's as a trendsetter willing to experiment; for a chain with such a distinct image and loyal fanbase, you would think that Trader Joe's would have some sort of mascot just like any other brand. We all know KFC's Colonel Sanders or Frosted Flake's Tony the Tiger, which gives customers a connection and emotional association with the brand. The truth is Trader Joe's does have a mascot, though you might have been overlooking it. While it may be more subtle, every Trader Joe's store contains a red plastic lobster — a unique mascot (for a unique store) that many of us miss.

Seafaring groceries

If you pay close attention next time you are at Trader Joe's, you might notice that the store has a sort of nautical theme to it. The owner Joe Coulombe, the original Joe, wanted customers to feel as if they are sailing the seas in search and exotic goods. This of course explains why employees are often wearing Hawaiian T-shirts, which can seem like an ironic joke during the winter. In line with the maritime vibe, at every single Trader Joe's you can find a plastic lobster with beady eyes lurking somewhere in the store. 

While these plastic lobsters are the store's official mascot, some locations have a different animal that more closely aligns with the locals. For example, the store in Monterrey, California has a sea otter and the one in Davis, California has a cow to represent the strong agriculture community.

By hiding the lobster (or stuffed animals), Trader Joe's offers a fun game for kids being dragged around to buy groceries, but it's certainly a game adults can enjoy too. If you find one of their hidden stuffed animals, bring it to one of the employees who will give you a little treat or piece of candy. If you want to leave the treats for the kids, just keep an eye out for any lobsters spying on you the next time you're sailing the high seas at Trader Joe's and filling your cart with all sorts of exciting items. There's no reward for finding TJ's plastic mascot, but it is a small way to liven up your weekly grocery run.