To the Ithaca native, Aldi might just be another supermarket to hit on the list of Sunday errands. To me, Aldi seemed like a store full of adventure. I was driving back to Ithaca from a weekend away visiting family upstate. My mom asked me the classic going back to college question: “Should we stop and get some snacks for you?” I answered the question with a wide smile. “Of course!”
With the word “snacks” being thrown around, my mind automatically went to Trader Joe’s. Trader Joe’s has always been my go-to. Long before it was considered trendy to like Trader Joe’s, I’d been obsessed with the store’s fun colors, funky signage and unique snacks like boba ice cream. I’ve been pushing around the baby shopping cart for practically as long as I could walk. So, when my mom vetoed my Trader Joe’s suggestion and decided to try out Aldi, I was disappointed but also excited at the same time to see if Aldi had the potential to become the new Trader Joe’s — they are owned by the same company, Albrecht Discounts, after all.
Upon arriving at Aldi, I walked through the sliding doors into what I would like to describe as the Home Depot of super markets. This truly seemed like a no-frills store with everything still in cardboard shipping containers. It was slim pickings when it came to the fresh produce. I was in search of strawberries and there were only two containers left. In all honesty, it was a few days before Valentine’s Day, so perhaps everyone decided to be romantic, but I was quite disappointed. I picked up a carton that I thoroughly inspected, which seemed to look fresh. They did, in fact, mold two days later, so that was a bit of a loss.
There were lots of snacks like crackers and pretzels, but none of them were brand names that I would trust. I did, however, pick up animal crackers which ended up tasting pretty good, but I was definitely not confident while buying them. I also picked up knock-off Samoa cookies, which, to my surprise, were amazing. The creamy milk chocolate and toasted coconut melted on my tongue like butter. Still, I only walked out with three items whereas at Trader Joe’s I would typically have a cart full.
Most people go to Aldi because the prices fall on the lower end. I learned that for the most part, you get what you pay for. There are certain items that knock it out-of-the-park like the Samoas, but most are mediocre at best. All in all, I’ve concluded that no, Aldi will be hard to replace the fun, vibrant Trader Joe’s that everyone knows and loves, but I can understand why it’s appealing to some.
Ally Mark is a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology. She can be reached at [email protected]