Trader Joe's Employees' Favorite Frozen Food Is No Surprise

The results of Trader Joe's 12th Annual Customer Choice Awards have been announced, and the winner of the Favorite Overall item is one that has been dominating the category for many years (via Inside Trader Joe's Podcast). If you haven't already guessed, then here's a hint: this item, which is available in the frozen foods section, features chunks of chicken enveloped with a crisp breading and comes with a house sauce made with California orange peels, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, fresh green onions, and soy sauce.

Yes, of course, we're talking about Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken, which also won top honors in the Favorite Entrée category this year (with 10 times more votes than the runner-up), and which has been "a favorite since it was first introduced way back in 2004," according to an article in Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer. That being said, this frozen favorite did have to step aside last year to make room for a dark horse contender, Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning, according to Tara Miller, Director of Marketing at Trader Joe's. However, that the Mandarin Orange Chicken swept these categories once again in 2021 should come as no surprise to Trader Joe's employees (also known as "the Crew"). "This one's a Crew favorite," Fearless Flyer noted.

Trader Joe's employees will tell you that this is the king of all frozen food items

"Trader Joe's has grown to become a national chain of 515 (and counting) neighborhood grocery stores, employing more than 45,000 Crew Members," according to the company website. When asked what topped their list of favorite TJ's frozen foods, according to Food & Wine, nearly every Crew member confessed to "stanning" the Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken. While there is "no wrong way" to make the "takeout-inspired meal," Crew members told Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer that there is a best way to make it, involving heating the sauce on the stove.

As Crew member David rhapsodized while a guest on episode 33 of the Inside Trader Joe's Podcast: "When dinner comes and we need a meal to dig in, you're number one in our stomachs and our hearts." David was talking about (and directly addressing) the Mandarin Orange Chicken, which he also referred to as "the sweet and savory sovereign of the freezer case." In an act of magnanimity, David did wish Everything But The Bagel Seasoning a hearty better luck next year and expressed his heartfelt hope that the seasoning could be content with having come in second for 2021.