Judith Miller redux: NYT exaggerates deliciousness of Trader Joe’s Thai Lime & Chili Peanuts

For years, the administration at Trader Joe’s– notoriously secretive and press-averse — has turned down the requests of journalists to sit in on its tasting panel meetings at which it is determined, for instance, what tortilla chip you’ll be eating at awkward housewarming parties for years to come. Seriously, I’ve tried three times to get into one of these meetings and each time I’ve been snubbed by a cheerful but unmovable Trader Joe’s executive.

Thanks to the NYT, today for the first time, we have a press account of one of these meetings– pegged to the opening of the first Manhattan Trader Joe’s. But did the paper trade objectivity for access to the Trader Joe’s administration? Looks like it.

Consider: the peanuts are “rich, spicy, fragrant, sweet and not quite like anything else on the mass market.” The research staff pays “passionate, focused attention to food.” And per the Times‘ account, Trader Joe’s development process for its tiramisu recipe sounds Manhattan Project-ish in scale.

I can’t help think that once again, the paper has neglected proper journalistic skepticism. Or maybe it’s all true. And maybe we’ll find the WMDs eventually, too!