Ah, Trader Joe’s. My pal, my confidant, my ube provider. If there’s one thing I love about Trader Joe’s, it’s everything. If there’s another thing I love, it’s their recent fascination with all things ube. Since the introduction of their ube-r popular Ube Ice Cream back in 2019, Trader Joe’s has come out with an array of ube-flavored products from Ube Tea Cookies to Ube Mochi Pancakes to the recently released, very popular Ube Yogurt Covered Pretzels. I guess they must know how much the public loves that sweet, purple, yammy, yummy flavor, because this week they dropped yet another ube product: Ube Spread.
Now to me, this sounds a lot like a Filipino pantry staple called Ube Halaya/Ube Jam, which usually consists of mashed ube (purple yam), coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, butter, and maybe a few other ingredients. If you are Filipino or even if you just learned what Ube Jam/Halaya is one sentence ago, you might be thinking, “Did Trader Joe’s just take this Filipino classic that has been around for centuries and market it as something new?” I thought that, too. But according to the comments on Trader Joe’s Instagram announcing the new product, it seems that (whether on purpose or by accident) this spread is nothing like Halaya. One commenter said it’s “not the same texture.” Another wrote, “I was hoping it was more like Halaya […] tastes more like candy corn.”
On the one hand, that’s a little disappointing, because it’s hard to find good Halaya in the U.S. If Trader Joe’s had pulled this off, it would’ve been a game-changer. On the other hand…did TJ’s just invent purple candy corn dip? Because that’s not the worst idea ever. Imagine dipping pretzels in that, mixing it into frosting, or even swirling it into brownies? Ube-tter believe I will try all of those combos, and more. I haven’t tried it yet, but I did pick some up at my local TJ’s, and I plan to make it purple rain over all my baked goods this month.
Note: In other news, the Trader Joe’s Ube Ice Cream is back for its summer run! Definitely worth a try whether you are an ube stan or an ube nube (get it?). Trust me y’all, this ice cream is GOOD.