People Are Comparing Trader Joe's New Spicy Honey Sauce To Mike's Hot Honey

Instagram account @traderjoeslist, recently shared with their followers a post featuring Trader Joe's new Organic Spicy Honey Sauce. Generally, those devoted to the grocery chain gushed with excitement. One even described it as like Mike's Hot Honey, but from Trader Joe's. The two honey sauces are indeed that similar. 

However, their differences lie primarily in the adjectives of their short ingredient lists. The ingredient list for the honey sauce sold by Trader Joe's consists of organic honey, organic distilled white vinegar, and organic natural chili pepper flavor. The ingredients for a 24 ounce bottle of Mike's Hot Honey's, as given on their website, include 100 percent pure honey, real chili peppers, and vinegar.

The other important difference is in the price of the two products. The online price for the 24 ounce bottle of Mike's Hot Honey is $17.99. On the Trader Joe's subreddit, a user details that they spent $2.69 for an 8 ounce jar. Even if you buy three of the Trader Joe's sauces to meet the amount sold by Mike's Hot Honey, the total amount is still less than half that you would spend before shipping.

What do all those adjectives even mean?

The cheapness is to be expected considering that Trader Joe's is Aldi's half-brother, and so operates with the same obsessive focus on lowering price points. The real difference to interrogate is the proliferation of organics and inclusion of natural flavoring on their ingredients list. After all, Mike's Hot Honey simply states what is in the product, albeit in their own marketing terms.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains that to receive a labelling declaring the organic nature of one's product, a producer must rely on natural substances and non-chemical methods, as well as adhering to other strict regulations. However, the Trader Joe's sauces do not bear the USDA label. This does not mean that the product does not follow such strictures, however. Just that it has not received official recognition that it in fact does so.

Similarly, the term "natural" when paired with "flavor" can really mean anything, as CNN reports. Unsurprisingly, natural flavors are flavors that come from natural sources. However, during their trip from source to food, they can receive enhancements and be added to the product at a later date. That separation of the chemicals behind flavoring from the ingredient itself, is why the label cannot declare chili peppers. At no point do peppers appear. Again, there is nothing nefarious about the use of the ingredient, but it obscures more than the simple inclusion of chili peppers that Mike's Hot Honey claims.