16 Fearless-Flyer Facts About Trader Joe’s

In a supermarket industry that thrives on selling you the same brands of chips, cereal, candy and soda wherever you shop, Trader Joe’s is the wacky outlier. It’s the only place where you can buy a jar of Cookie Butter to go along with your Horseradish Chips and Uncured Bacon Ganache Chocolate Bar—where employees go by maritime titles like “mate” and “captain,” wear Hawaiian shirts and cheerfully ring bells rather than use intercoms. The grocer's quirky, foodie-pleasing ways have garnered legions of fans, even in cities that don’t have a TJ’s. But it’s worth looking past the company’s carefree attitude to see just what makes this ship float.

1. The founder envisioned a market for “overeducated, underpaid” shoppers.

Joe Raedle// Getty

No, Trader Joe is not an eccentric world traveler in a safari hat. He’s Joe Coulombe, a Stanford business school grad who made some savvy decisions back in the company’s early days. In an interview with Entrepreneur, Coulombe says he noticed a significant trend in the early ‘60s: salaries for college grads were falling. So he slashed prices on products throughout his stores, then known as Pronto Markets, and loaded up on something else his well-educated customer base could appreciate: booze. “We essentially married the health food store to the liquor store,” he said in the interview. Smart man, that Joe Coulombe.

2. Trader Joe's is now owned by a reclusive, mega-rich German family.

Coulombe renamed his stores “Trader Joe’s” in 1967, then sold the company to German billionaire Theo Albrecht in 1979. Albrecht, who died in 2010, owned (along with his brother, Karl) the discount chain Aldi, which is currently one of the fastest-growing supermarkets in the U.S. Both brothers were intensely private, which is understandable, really, considering that in 1971 Theo was kidnapped and held for ransom for 17 days (the family negotiated the release, and the kidnapper, a small-time crook, was nabbed shortly after). Trader Joe’s is currently owned by the Albrecht family trust.

3. Granola was their first store-brand product.

About 80 percent of Trader Joe’s products are its own kitschy brands, from Trader Jose salsa to Pilgrim Joe clam chowder. And it all started with granola, back in 1972.

4. National brands make their products.

It’s the secret Trader Joe’s would rather you not know: Well-known manufacturers make its products, then sell them under the company’s sub brands at a significant discount. Why? Because they want to be in Trader Joe’s, and they’re willing to play along to do so. TJ’s doesn’t publicize its vendor relationships, and manufacturers are sworn to secrecy, so enterprising food journalists have run taste tests to connect the dots. That white cheddar mac and cheese you love? It’s probably made by Annie's Homegrown.

5. They’re ruthlessly efficient.

Joe Raedle // Getty

In addition to secretly contracting brand-name suppliers, Trader Joe’s does a few other things most supermarkets don’t. They don’t accept slotting fees, which manufacturers pay retailers in return for shelf real estate (ever wonder why Pepsi and Coke have the soda aisle locked down?), and which increase prices. They also cut out distributors, often receiving products directly from suppliers. And as you’ve likely noticed if you shop there, they don’t offer coupons or special discounts. Because everything’s already dirt-cheap.

6. They really do send buyers all over the world.

The company employs a small, elite band of senior buyers to scour the globe for new products. They’re like the SEAL Team 6 of specialty grocery. As one former buyer told Fortune magazine, going to industry trade shows is “for rookies.”

7. They’re not like Whole Foods—well, mostly.

Although Trader Joe’s doesn’t position itself as a health food store, it still adheres to guidelines that include no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives in any of its products, and no GMOs. Kind of like a certain higher-priced competitor, no?

8. You can try pretty much any product before you buy.

If you’re not sure about those chocolate-covered potato chips (though why wouldn’t you be?), ask a store employee for a sample. You can try pretty much anything before you buy, with the exception of foods that need to be prepared (pasta, cake mix, frozen meals), and liquor. Wine sampling, meanwhile, varies from state to state.

9. People in cities without a store absolutely PINE for one.

There aren’t many grocery stores that inspire mass campaigns to bring them to town. Residents of Memphis, Green Bay, Lancaster, Penn., and other cities have set up dedicated Facebook pages displaying their loyalty to the company and begging them to drop anchor. Commenters often recount the days, months and even years since they last stepped foot in a store.

10. They have a Canadian bootlegger.

Trader Joe’s doesn’t operate in Canada, but that doesn’t stop the good people of Vancouver from buying Trader Joe’s products. How’s that possible? A store called Pirate Joe’s, which isn’t affiliated with Trader Joe’s in any way, sells TJ’s goods that have been trucked up (read: bootlegged) from stores in Washington state. Owner Mike Hallatt, who holds the illustrious distinction of having been thrown out of multiple Trader Joe’s, employs a team of shoppers who buy products in bulk, then load them into a big white van headed north. It all sounds highly illegal, but when Trader Joe’s sued Hallatt, they lost.

11. Their New York City stores are madness, simply madness.

Michael Nagle // Getty

Go to the Union Square, Chelsea or Upper West Side locations during rush hour and you’ll likely find a line snaking through the entire store. There are sign-toting employees at the middle and end of the line, offering a semblance of order amidst the chaos. Experienced shoppers know how to save time by shopping while they’re in line, which is so New York.

12. Every store has a plastic lobster hiding in it.

Or so the company claims. See if you can find it—and try not to knock over any garlic pita chip displays in the process.

13. They’ve sold more than 800 million bottles of Two-Buck Chuck.

It’s more like Three-Buck Chuck these days, but that hasn’t slowed sales, which have gone gangbusters since Charles Shaw wine first arrived en-masse to Trader Joe’s shelves in 2002. The Bronco Wine Company, which makes the stuff and is owned by the Franzia family (sound familiar?), employs clever cost-saving measures much like Trader Joe’s. It grows grapes on inexpensive land in California’s San Joaquin Valley, ages the wine with oak chips instead of in barrels, and uses ultra-lightweight bottles and boxes for shipping. All in the name of getting Americans the cheap booze they crave.

14. They stopped selling pantyhose in 1978.

TJ’s clearly saw the writing on the wall decades ahead of time, considering sales of pantyhose have plummeted over the past 15 years. Or, as Trader Joe’s puts it: “The unencumbered freedom is glorious.”

15. Each store has its own artist.

To give its stores a neighborhood market feel, Trader Joe’s posts chalkboard signs drawn by an in-house artist (a “crew member,” officially). The results are eye-catching and often quite clever.

16. They inspired a really catchy tribute song.

Apologies in advance for getting this stuck in your head.

16 Things You Might Not Know About William Shakespeare

Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Despite his many contributions to English literature, surprisingly little is known about William Shakespeare’s life. For the past four centuries, historians have had the difficult task of piecing together the Bard's biography with only a handful of old legal documents. Here's what we do know about the celebrated actor, poet, and playwright, who was born on this day in 1564.

1. Shakespeare's writing was likely influenced by his father's legal troubles.

When Shakespeare was about 5 years old, his father, John—a glovemaker—was accused of illegal money-lending and wool-dealing by Crown informers. The ordeal plunged the elder Shakespeare into legal troubles that would plague him for the next decade. "William grew to adulthood in a household where his father had fallen in social and economic rank," historian Glyn Parry told The Guardian. Parry argued that the experience likely shaped Shakespeare's attitudes toward power, class, and the monarchy—major themes in his future works.

2. Shakespeare got married because of an unexpected pregnancy.

Shakespeare was 18 when he learned that Anne Hathaway, 26, was pregnant with his first child. The couple quickly decided to marry in November 1582 and greeted daughter Susanna in May 1583. Two years later, they had twins Judith and Hamnet. Unfortunately, Shakespeare has no living direct descendants: Hamnet died at age 11, probably a victim of some disease; Judith outlived her three children; and Susanna had one daughter, Elizabeth, who was childless.

3. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592.

After the birth of his twins, Shakespeare fell off the map for seven years. One unsubstantiated theory (and there are many) suggests that he supported his family by working as a lawyer or legal clerk. Indeed, Shakespeare's plays show an impressive grasp of legal knowledge. "No dramatist of the time … used legal phrases with Shakespeare's readiness and exactness," wrote 19th-century literary critic Richard Grant White. (High praise considering that Shakespeare once wrote, "Let's kill all the lawyers.")

4. Shakespeare was, first and foremost, an actor.

An engraving of Shakespeare by E Scriven, after Humphrey's drawing known as the 'Chandos portrait,' circa 1590.
An engraving of Shakespeare by E Scriven, after Humphrey's drawing known as the 'Chandos portrait,' circa 1590.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Shakespeare became an actor at a time when the job was considered downright unsavory. "[A]ctors were already marked as undesirables by England's vagrancy laws, which mandated that traveling troupes had to find aristocratic patronage," John Paul Rollert wrote in The Atlantic. "Rogue players ran the risk of being flogged, branded, and finally hanged." Little is known of Shakespeare's acting chops, but it's believed Shakespeare favored playing "kingly parts," including the ghost in his own Hamlet.

5. Shakespeare may have participated in organized crime.

In the 1590s, many of London's theaters operated as shady fronts for organized crime. (The Lord Mayor of London decried the theater—and specifically plans for the new Swan Theatre, where Shakespeare may have briefly worked—as a meeting spot for "thieves, horse-stealers, whoremongers, cozeners, conny-catching persons, practisers of treason, and such other like.") In 1596, Swan Theater owner Francis Langley accused William Gardiner and his stepson William Wayte of making death threats. Soon after, Wayte retaliated with the same accusations against Langley and—for some reason—William Shakespeare. This has led historian Mike Dash to suggest that Shakespeare may have been involved in some unspoken criminal activity.

6. Shakespeare was a matchmaker (and a marital peace-maker).

It may be no surprise that the author of Romeo and Juliet had a penchant for bringing lovers together: He once helped arrange the marriage of his landlord's daughter. The only reason we know this, however, is because the marriage had a rocky start. When a dispute over the dowry boiled over, Shakespeare had to go to court to act as a character witness for his landlord, whom he called a "very honest fellow." The transcript is the only record of Shakespeare speaking.

7. The first printed reference to Shakespeare as a playwright was an insult.

The first mention of William Shakespeare as a playwright appeared in 1592, when the dramatist Robert Greene (or possibly Henry Chettle) called him an "upstart Crow [who] … supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you." (In other words: A jack-of-all-trades, and a master of none.) Future reviewers would offer kinder words; in 1598, the critic Francis Meres called him "mellifluous and honey-tongued."

8. Shakespeare likely helped steal a theater, piece by piece.

In 1596, the Theatre in Shoreditch—where Shakespeare cut his teeth as an actor—went dark. The lease for the property on which it was built had expired, and Shakespeare's acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, were forced to take their show elsewhere. Two years later, the former owners hatched a crazy plan to take their playhouse back. One winter night in 1598, a group armed themselves with swords and axes, snuck into the theater, and began dismantling the playhouse piece by piece—although it would take more than one night to demolish it. While there's no evidence that Shakespeare joined the crew, he certainly knew about the raid. Eventually, parts of the playhouse would go into the construction of a new theater just south of the River Thames. Its new name? The Globe.

9. Only one handwritten script of Shakespeare's exists.

Five examples of the autograph of English playwright William Shakespeare, circa 1610.
Five examples of the autograph of William Shakespeare, circa 1610.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

Anyone interested in studying the Bard's cramped handwriting has only one reliable place to look—the original draft of the Book of Sir Thomas More, a politically-charged play that targeted, in-part, xenophobia in England. Written mainly by dramatist Anthony Munday, the play was completed with the help of four fellow playwrights. One of them, presumed to be Shakespeare, helped write a stirring monologue in which the lead character asks an anti-immigrant mob to imagine themselves as refugees.

Say now the king …
Should so much come too short of your great trespass
As but to banish you, whither would you go?
What country, by the nature of your error,
Should give you harbour?

The play, by the way, would not be performed. Censors believed it could start a riot.

10. Shakespeare might have experimented with drugs.

Shakespeare might have had some, well, experience with drugs. According to analyses by South African scientists, a handful of 400-year-old clay tobacco pipes excavated from the playwright's Stratford garden contained potential evidence of cannabis (although the study authors noted that "Unequivocal evidence for Cannabis has not been obtained"). Other pipes nearby contained remnants of cocaine and hallucinogens. (There's no evidence that any of these pipes belonged to Shakespeare, but it does indicate that "narcotics were accessible" at the time, the Telegraph reports.)

11. Shakespeare may have been a tax cheat.

In the late 16th century, English residents had to pay a tax on personal wealth called a lay subsidy. In 1597, Shakespeare was supposed to pay a tax of five shillings. The following year, he was supposed to pay a larger tax of 13 shillings and 4 pence. Documents show that the Bard never paid the piper. (His reasons are a matter of speculation, but it could have been a clerical error because he'd already moved away from the parish.)

12. Shakespeare was a grain hoarder.

According to the UK Parliament, between 1604 and 1914 over 5200 enclosure bills were enacted, which restricted the use of vital, publicly-used farmland. Ensuing riots in 1607, called the Midland Revolts, coincided with a period of devastating food shortages. It appears that Shakespeare responded to the situation by hoarding grain. According to the Los Angeles Times, he "purchased and stored grain, malt and barley for resale at inflated prices to his neighbors and local tradesmen."

13. The Globe Theatre burned down during a performance of one of Shakespeare's plays.

An 1647 engraving by Hollar of Shakespeare's Globe theatre.
An 1647 engraving by Hollar of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Rischgitz, Getty Images

On June 29, 1613, a prop cannon caused a fire at the Globe Theatre during a performance of Henry VIII. Sparks landed on the thatched roof and flames quickly spread. "It kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very ground," a witness Sir Henry Wotton claimed. According to The Telegraph, "the only reported injury was a man whose flaming breeches were eventually put out using a handy bottle of ale."

14. Shakespeare laid a curse upon his own grave.

When Shakespeare died in 1616, grave-robbing was extremely common. To ensure he'd rest through eternity peacefully, the Bard is believed to have penned this curse, which appears on his gravestone.

Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust Encloased heare:
Bleste be [the] man [that] spares these stones,
And curst be he [that] moves my bones.

Unfortunately, somebody apparently ignored the dead man's foreboding words. In 2016, researchers scanned the grave with ground-penetrating radar and discovered that grave robbers might have stolen Shakespeare's skull.

15. Shakespeare's legacy has killed a lot of trees.

And we're not just talking about the millions of copies of books that have been printed with Shakespeare's name on them. In 1762, an anonymous magazine writer claimed that a drunken Shakespeare, after an evening out on the town, once spent the night sleeping under a crabtree in Bidford-upon-Avon. The story is probably a legend, but that never stopped souvenir-hungry Shakespeare lovers from flocking to the famed crabtree and picking it to pieces. By 1824, the tree was nothing but a stump and had to be uprooted.

16. Shakespeare's legacy lived on thanks to two fellow actors.

The cover of a 1623 collection of Shakespeare's works.
Rischgitz, Getty Images

Shortly after Shakespeare died, two of his longtime friends and colleagues—John Heminge and Henry Condell—edited Shakespeare's plays and collected them in a 1623 book titled Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. That same book, now called the First Folio, helped preserve Shakespeare's work for the coming generations and is widely considered one of the most significant books printed in English.

10 Characters Left Out of the Movie Adaptations of Popular Books

© 1939 Warner Home Video. All rights reserved.
© 1939 Warner Home Video. All rights reserved.

While many film adaptations of popular books try to remain faithful to their source material, others take creative liberties by changing the setting, altering relationships, cutting out entire storylines, and eliminating key characters. Here are 10 characters who never made the leap from book to big-screen.

1. Tattypoo // The Wizard of Oz (1939)

In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the Good Witch of the South is named Glinda and is described as an unbelievably beautiful woman. Her counterpart, the Good Witch of the North, is an older woman who later writers dubbed "Locasta" or "Tattypoo." Glinda only appears at the end of the story and tells Dorothy how to return home, while Tattypoo greets the heroine once she arrives in the Land of Oz.

However, in the classic film adaptation, Glinda is the sole Good Witch, acting as a composite character of the two from the book. "Tattypoo" is never referred to at all throughout the film.

2. Madge Undersee // The Hunger Games (2012)

Although she was introduced early in The Hunger Games book series, Madge Undersee was not featured in any of the films. On the page, she was Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and the daughter of the mayor of District 12. Madge also gives Katniss her Mockingjay pin at the beginning of the trilogy.

In the film version, Katniss picks up the iconic pin and gives it to her sister, Primrose, instead. Prim then gives it back to Katniss once she volunteers as Tribute to take her sister’s place.

3. Tom Bombadil // The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Although he’s a beloved character from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings book series, Peter Jackson didn’t include Tom Bombadil in The Fellowship of the Ring movie, despite his memorable appearance in the book. Believing Bombadil would simply slow down the action and that the scene didn’t move the main Sauron/Ring story forward, the director cut the character during the film's development. Poor ol' Tom was also left out of Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings for the same reason.

4. Dr. Martin Guitierrez // Jurassic Park (1993)

Dr. Martin Guitierrez is the only character who appears in both Jurassic Park and The Lost World novels without appearing in any of the film adaptations. In the books, he’s an American biologist who lives in Costa Rica and identifies a small dinosaur that attacked a little girl as the lizard Basiliscus amoratus. But as he learns more about this creature, he begins to doubt his identification. Some of the opening chapters of the Jurassic Park novel were not used in the film, but were later repurposed for The Lost World: Jurassic Park sequel.

5. Captain Marvel // Captain America: Civil War (2016)


Marvel

Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers, then in the role of Ms. Marvel) is one of the most powerful members of the Avengers team. She played an integral role in the comic event Civil War during the mid-2000s, but she doesn’t appear at all in the Marvel Cinematic Universe version. In the comic book, the future Captain Marvel was on Team Iron Man and urged the superpowered to unmask and to obey the Superhero Registration Act. Captain Marvel didn’t appear in the movie because her character wasn’t introduced (or teased) in the Marvel film franchise yet. Now, of course, she's got her own standalone film and will be a key part of Avengers: Endgame and the next phase of the MCU (with Oscar-winner Brie Larson in the role).

In addition, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage were also a big part of Civil War, but didn’t appear in the film because they each had their own Netflix series at the time.

6. Carol Masters // Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was actually based on a novel called Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, which followed a cartoon character who hired a hard-boiled private eye to investigate why his company isn’t going to feature him in a new comic strip. Disney acquired the film rights and changed almost everything about the story, such as lightening up the novel’s dark noir tone.

The Mouse House also ditched a number of characters from the original novel, including Carol Masters, Roger’s comic strip photographer. In the book, toons appear in print instead of animation, so photographers are teamed with cartoon characters to take pictures of them posing in comic strips.

7. Alexandra Finch // To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Alexandra Finch is Atticus's sister—and Scout and Jem’s aunt—in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was a stern woman who wanted Scout to act more like a lady instead of a tomboy. Her character was omitted from the movie version, as was Uncle Jack, who played a minor role in the book.

8. The Countess Rugen // The Princess Bride (1987)

Described as fashionable and beautiful, the Countess Rugen was left out of the film adaptation of The Princess Bride. She was the wife of Count Rugen, played by Christopher Guest in the movie, and appears at the beginning of the novel at Buttercup’s farm. The Countess was very attracted to Westley, which led to Buttercup realizing she was in love with him. A majority of the farm storyline was cut out of the film to streamline the running time and story flow.

9. Peeves // Harry Potter film series (2001-2011)

Although Peeves, a pesky prankster poltergeist, is a fan favorite from the Harry Potter book series, he never made an appearance in any of the film versions. “Peeves was always an issue,” Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves told io9. “Chris Columbus was determined to put him in the first movie. I think there were even some technological problems with him initially, and [not] being satisfied with how he looked. He was always a bit tangential.”

In the year 2000, director Chris Columbus actually cast Rik Mayall to play the role in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He was on set for three weeks before he was eventually cut out of the movie due to problems on set and with the special effects.

“I played the part of Peeves in Harry Potter,” Rik Mayall explained. “I got sent off the set because every time I tried to do a bit of acting, all the lads who were playing the school kids kept getting the giggles, they kept corpsing [slang for breaking character and laughing], so they threw me off.”

10. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst // Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Mr. and Mrs. Hurst are Bingley's brother-in-law and sister, but the unaffectionate couple in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice doesn’t make an appearance in the 2005 film adaptation from director Joe Wright. Mrs. Hurst is described as arrogant and snobbish, while Mr. Hurst is mostly known as an indolent man who is more interested in food and playing cards than his wife. While the Hursts are not in the 2005 film, they do appear in the six-episode BBC TV series from 1995, played by Rupert Vansittart and Lucy Robinson.

This story has been updated for 2019.

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