13 Brands Behind Your Favorite Trader Joe's Snacks

Trader Joe's has one of the best snack selections of any grocery store. It's a one-stop cure for munchies, from classics like dark chocolate peanut butter cups to new favorites like Everything and the Elote Greek-style yogurt dip. But what Trader Joe's truly excels at is variety. You can keep your tastebuds busy with its constant rotation of new treats to try. Alongside TJ's private-label version of popular go-to's, you'll find a wide range of sweet and savory snacks. The store has an in-house tasting panel of employees that meticulously judges potential new products to decide which will win its coveted shelf space. 

Thanks to a unique business model, TJ's can test new products while decreasing costs. It partners with third-party food manufacturers to produce its in-house private-label products. You'll be surprised to find that more than 80% of the private label items at TJ's were made by other brands. There are household names like PepsiCo and lesser-known companies that make snacks you're probably familiar with. TJ's keeps a tight lid on its business operations, but that hasn't prevented curious customers from uncovering some of the companies behind your favorite snacks.

Wonderful: dry and roasted pistachios

The nuts, dried fruits, and seeds section at Trader Joe's is a treasure trove of treats. There's a diverse selection of sweet and savory trail mixes for adventurous snackers and single variety packages for snack purists. Thanks to a 2016 salmonella recall that was issued by Wonderful, it was revealed that the company also manufactured three popular TJ's nut products: dry roasted and unsalted pistachios, dry roasted and salted pistachios, and 50% less salt roasted and salted pistachios.

A simple packaging swap is enough to convince customers that they are buying a different product. Pistachios look identical from brand to brand, so had Wonderful not issued the recall, no one would've been the wiser. Even though you are buying the same nuts, when it comes to cost, a 16-ounce pack of Trader Joe's dry roasted and salted pistachios is considerably less than a package of Wonderful pistachios roasted and salted the same size. Prices for both products can vary from state to state, but TJ's is more likely to save you some bucks. In general, Trader Joe's offers one of the best selections of affordable packaged trail mixes, nuts, dried fruits, and seeds. 

Stacy's Snacks: pita chips with sea salt

Recalls aren't the only way to uncover Trader Joe's secretive business practices. The age-old method of comparing product ingredients can also unearth surprising insights. If you're curious enough, you don't need nifty investigative prowess, just the USDA's database of products. The tool allows you to search for similarities between different products' nutrition facts. That's what Eater did in 2017, finding that Trader Joe's popular pita chips with sea salt contained the same ingredients as Stacy's simply naked pita chips. The rumors had run the mill for years, so it was confirmation for many who already felt the two were strikingly similar in taste and texture.

Stacy's is manufactured by Frito-Lay Inc., which is a subsidiary of PepsiCo; two major corporations that you wouldn't normally associate with the seemingly "neighborhood-friendly" Trader Joe's. However, more recently, new rumors and the discontinuation of several TJ's pita flavors suggest that Stacy's is no longer TJ's pita chip provider. Customers say that the recipe has changed, with others asserting that the former sea salt flavor was replaced by Trader Joe's reduced guilt pita chips with sea salt. If that is the case, the current manufacturer is unknown.

Enjoy Life: soft baked snickerdoodle cookies

Thanks to a 2022 recall, the secret manufacturer behind Trader Joe's snickerdoodle cookies was found to be Enjoy Life Foods, a company that specializes in allergy-free products. Trader Joe's was absent from the original list when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared it on July 12 that year, but the proverbial cat was let out of the bag when it was added on July 20, per Snack Safely. Were it not added to an expanded list, we may have never known that another company was behind TJ's chewy snickerdoodle cookies.

The recall highlights an internal quality assurance test, which uncovered that the products possibly contain hard plastic pieces. It appears that Enjoy Life Foods no longer offers its snickerdoodle cookies, so it isn't clear whether it still manufactures them for TJ's. Major retailers like Kroger, Walmart, and Whole Foods all list it as out of stock as well. Snickerdoodle cookies seem to still be available via the Trader Joe's website, though. That said, some brands produce more than one product at TJ's, so there is a chance that Enjoy Life Foods is behind other snacks.

Stonyfield: organic plain yogurt

Another company secret that slipped out involves the New Hampshire-based Stonyfield Farms, which is owned by French dairy giant Lactalis. Stonyfield Farms has been linked to multiple Trader Joe's snacks, some of which have been confirmed. In a 2017 Reddit thread, an employee anonymously revealed that TJ's sells products manufactured by Stonyfield Farms. Although they did not say which, according to Eat This Not That, Trader Joe's itself hinted at its Stonyfield affiliation in a surprisingly candid move. Its organic yogurt smoothies were promoted in its Fearless Flyer newsletter and were said to be made in New Hampshire by "one of the most respected names in organic yogurt."

Going further back, Fortune took a deep dive into the company's business practices in 2010, uncovering that Stonyfield Farm manufactures most of Trader Joe's yogurt products along the East Coast. Curious treasure hunters have yet to unearth information on the company's West Coast manufacturer.

Naked: 100% juice smoothies

Alongside its impressive snack selection, Trader Joe's has an equally amazing array of juice and vegetable smoothies. Eater claims that the Freedom of Information Act it used in 2017 confirmed that the popular PepsiCo subsidiary Naked Juice was the smoothie provider for TJ's. It mentions a recall issued by the FDA in 2008. Though we've been unable to locate the official recall, it was supposedly issued to address a potential yeast and lactic acid bacterial contamination in Naked's fruit smoothies. The Freedom of Information Act gives U.S. citizens the right to request information from federal agencies, or in other words, it can make the FDA and USDA give up the goods.

Sifting through 10 years of recalls, dozens of companies were listed as manufacturers of TJ's products, including Naked Juice. An unmistakable similarity between the two brands inspired more sleuthing. When using the USDA database to compare ingredients, several TJ's smoothies were shown to be Naked doppelgangers, and others, like the very green juice smoothie, only had minor distinctions. For instance, TJ's very green and Naked's Green Machine smoothies both contain 270 per serving, but very green has 56 grams of sugar, which is slightly more than the 53 grams in Naked's Green Machine. It should be noted, though, that TJ's is 16 fluid ounces and Naked Juice's is 15.2 fluid ounces. There are few distinctions otherwise. The search also found that Trader Joe's mango 100% juice smoothie and Naked's Mighty Mango drink have identical ingredients.

Bakkavor Foods: Mediterranean-style hummus

When it comes to iconic Trader Joe's snacks, the Mediterranean-style hummus is easily among the best. New styles of hummus are introduced all the time, yet this proven classic continues to be a popular go-to. Sadly, TJ's does not deserve all the credit for this savory and herbaceous spread. An international food manufacturing company, Bakkavor Foods USA, Inc., issued a recall in December 2016, revealing that it was the manufacturer behind both Trader Joe's Mediterranean-style hummus and its white bean and basil hummus products. The recall was about a possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Since then, TJ's white bean and basil hummus has disappeared from store shelves, and longtime fans of the Mediterranean style say that the quality has dipped. Many believe that the velvety, full-bodied flavor has been replaced by a watered-down version. While the interwebs speculate over whether the ingredients have changed, it seems more likely that TJ's either has a new manufacturer or sells inconsistent batches. That said, its Mediterranean-style hummus continues to be one of the most sought-after snacks. Trader Joe's still pumps out a stunning amount of hummus. According to the Inside Trader Joe's podcast, it makes 85,000 pounds of the Mediterranean-style every week to meet customer demands.

Bakkavor Foods: egg salad

Hummus isn't the only Trader Joe's product manufactured by Bakkavor Foods; it also makes the popular old-fashioned potato salad as well as its egg salad. In a recall issued by the FDA on December 23, 2019, Listeria monocytogenes popped up again. This time, Bakkavor used egg whites supplied by a third-party company named Almark Foods. The recall came in response to Almark informing Bakkavor that its broken egg whites had possibly become contaminated. Both products contain egg whites and were listed in the recall, which also confirmed that Bakkavor was still working with TJ's.

The partnership was apparently made in heaven; fans of TJ's old-fashioned potato salad say that it has the same great taste it did 30 years ago. Like the Mediterranean-style hummus, it's a tried-and-true recipe that has outlasted countless TJ's products. On the flip side, the egg salad mentioned in the recall was discontinued and replaced with a new recipe, but long-time fans of the original don't appear pleased with the change. A new recipe could also indicate a change in manufacturers.

Fuji Foods: Asian-style ready-to-eat products

Despite Trader Joe's best efforts, it's impossible to predict when a recall will be issued. Customers benefit from TJ's secretive business model because it rewards us with a diverse range of affordable products. That said, recalls keep customers safe, so some secrets are meant to come to light. Fuji Food Products, Inc. is a food manufacturer based in Santa Fe Springs, California, that supplies TJ's with sushi, spring rolls, and salads for its ready-to-eat line. The partnership was revealed in a 2019 recall issued by the company over yet another Listeria monocytogenes contamination. 

If you're wondering why Listeria is so common in the food industry, it's mainly due to occasions when raw foods are prepared in contaminated environments. TJ's sushi is ready-made and pre-packaged, which means it has a greater chance of contamination compared to freshly made — unless the prep area is unhygenic. However, the CDC says that only 1,600 people contract listeriosis per year in the U.S., which means that the chance of food contamination is fairly low. 

Bazzini: nuts for Trader Joe's confections

Trader Joe's knows a thing or two about chocolate. It has an extensive selection of creamy confectionary that some say is the best they've ever tasted. Even better is that many of TJ's private-label sweets rival popular brands. The store's delectable dark chocolate almond butter cups are one example. They were introduced in 2019, likely inspired by the success of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Fans were left disappointed when they were recalled in 2022 due to possibly containing peanut protein.

Surprisingly, TJ's was not behind the recall. A company that specializes in nuts, fruits, and chocolate called Bazzini Nuts was listed as the manufacturer. Perhaps the most surprising part is that Bazzini does not produce any products like chocolate almond butter cups; it only makes dried nuts and fruits. That suggests TJ's sources its chocolate from a separate manufacturer and may even use another for making the product itself. Byzantine operations aside, TJ's dark chocolate almond butter cups survived the recall and still are one of the tastiest snacks available to customers.

Snak-King: restaurant-style white corn tortilla chips

Snak-King has been making high-quality snacks since 1978. It's the manufacturer behind the brand El Sabroso, which makes the corner store classics guacachips and salsasitas. Not listed on its site is Trader Joe's, which surprisingly popped up in a 2021 recall. The FDA issued one for its restaurant-style white corn tortilla chips, saying it contained an undisclosed milk allergen and revealing Snak-King's involvement. Thankfully, no illnesses were reported. Had the label been printed correctly, TJ's secret snack manufacturer may have remained a secret.

It appears the bad juju didn't end there for Trader Joe's restaurant-style tortilla chips. Upon returning to shelves, customers say the recall impacted availability, making them hard to find. They were later rebranded as Truly tortilla chips. Whether the name change was intended to distance it from the recall is unknown. At the time of writing, the Truly tortilla chips are nowhere to be found on TJ's website; its salted tortilla chips are the closest alternative that remains. 

Yorgo's Foods: tahini sauce and yogurt dip

Ready-made foods give Trader Joe's the most trouble when it comes to recalls. Add tahini sauce and cilantro and chive yogurt dip to the list. Both snacks were pulled from store shelves in 2017 in response to more Listeria monocytogenes. The contamination forced the brand behind the snacks to come out of hiding: Yorgo's Foods, Inc., a New Hampshire-based Mediterranean food manufacturer. For reasons unknown, Yorgo's Foods ceased trading a few years later — its website no longer works, and its last Facebook page post was in August 2022. 

Trader Joe's continued to sell tahini sauce but hasn't disclosed whether or not it's made by a new manufacturer. As recently as a year ago, news of its impending disappearance began to spread. The cilantro and chive yogurt dip did not brave the recall either and was subsequently withdrawn. Fans who miss the taste still lament its discontinuation and wish TJ's would bring it back.

Wildway: grainless granola

Wildway, a natural food company based in San Antonio, Texas, was revealed as a Trader Joe's manufacturer in another 2017 recall. The FDA waited eight months to publish it for some reason, and unsurprisingly, the notorious Listeria monocytogenes was back for more. Trader Joe's grainless granola was listed among the potentially contaminated products this time, and in a rare move, TJ's also made an official announcement about the recall on its website. 

The original packaging was red, unlike the one TJ's currently stocks, which has purple and turquoise packaging. TJ's grainless granola was temporarily discontinued following the recall, so it isn't clear whether Wildway is still the manufacturer of the product. Customers were excited when TJ's announced its new and improved gluten-free and vegan-friendly grainless granola in 2020. Fun fact: Granola was the first store product sold by Trader Joe's when it opened in 1967. If TJ's knows anything, you better believe it's granola.

Stauffer's: animal crackers

There's no official confirmation for this next one, but the identical ingredients make an excellent case. Thanks to Eater's investigative dive into the brands behind your favorite Trader Joe's snacks, the suspicions surrounding its organic animal crackers were seemingly confirmed. If the taste and consistency of TJ's animal crackers ever reminded you of Stauffer's, you may have been onto something. At the time of the article, Eater said that Stauffer's offered two animal cracker varieties: original and organic. Apparently, the original shared the same ingredients minus lemon, while the organic was identical.

Stauffer's no longer carries its organic option, so, unfortunately, we're unable to confirm Eater's findings. We can, however, compare the ingredients in TJ's organic animal crackers to those in Stauffer's original animal crackers. After examining the two, it appears that TJ's uses different ingredients, which either means that Eater was wrong or that Stauffer's changed its recipe. One thing's for sure: Both are delicious. If you prefer a healthier alternative to the original, Stauffer's released Simply Animals in 2023, which is free from high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, and peanuts.