Trader Joe’s is an endless source of exciting new foods to covet. It’s a big reason why fans, including many of our own editors, gravitate so much to the specialty grocer.
Case in point: TJ’s wavy knife-cut style noodles. Customers have been loving the Taiwanese-style air-dried noodles since they hit stores last month.
Commenters on social media were quick to compare them to the more expensive noodles from celebrity chef David Chang’s Momofuku brand, and TikTok enthusiasts drew thousands of onlookers by showcasing various mouth-watering ways to customize the chewy noodles and tousled from TJ.
This reporter picked up a package of trendy noodles from a towering display at my local Trader Joe’s in Brooklyn, NY on January 25. I quickly understood all the fuss. Ripple noodles are inexpensive: just $4.99 for a four-serving pack. They are super quick to make: ready in less than five minutes. And they’re especially delicious with just a dollop of crispy chili swirled around in the mix.
I was thrilled to find such a quick, affordable, and satisfying lunch option for busy weekdays, chowing down on all four servings in the same number of days and planning to restock my pantry with more as soon as possible.
The problem is that I haven’t been able to find another package since. Every time I returned to Trader Joe’s the noodles were all gone.
Now, it turns out there’s an explanation for the sudden shortage of wavy noodles beyond all the internet hype.
According to a Feb. 24 op-ed in the San Luis Obispo Tribune, scalpers are snapping up popular noodles and reselling them on eBay for up to $20 a piece.. The article noted that most – “if not all” – of TJ’s locations have been wiped from the popular product, and he likely won’t return until April.
Screenwriter Stephanie Finucane pointed out that there was nothing illegal about buyers taking advantage of these items, thanks to a principle called the “first sale doctrine”, but argued that “it still stinks – and there was justice, dealers would be banned for life from TJ.”
Trader Joe’s has reportedly been grappling with the resale problem for years now, with the company’s executive calling it “not fair on many levels” but “really, really difficult” to solve, during a 2019 podcast on the subject.
Even the secondary market seemed pretty dry when I checked eBay on Feb. 27, with only one California-based seller still offering TJ’s wavy noodles, with a starting price of $9.98, plus $11.55 for the ‘dispatch. The item had already generated some auctions.
I found several other hot new TJ items also available on the online market, including three new store brand seasoning mixes – Ketchup, Pizza and Sriracha – all marked at more than double the retail price.
Chris Shott is the Associate Grocery Editor for Eat This, Not That! Learn more about Chris
Leave a Reply