Trader Joe Chocolate Chips

Trader Joe Chocolate Chips Going Dairy. A Gastronomic Uproar

Trader Joe chocolate chips are an age old institution.

But this week they are at the center of a total uproar: They are going DAIRY! More exactly, they are going to be made in dairy equipment from now on.

To name just one example, here’s an alarmed message  from Rachel:

Worst news ever!  Please take action. Spread the word – according to OK Kosher, Trader Joe chocolate chips are going dairy! TJs is usually pretty responsive to comments, so write in and tell them you don’t want them to make this change. Maybe it’ll help!!

Another one wrote with alarm “How will I make your Chocolate Chip Cookies for Shabbos? Or your Chocolate Truffles recipe”? Dearest friends, Let’s start by getting this out of the way: Is this really the worst news? I wish all of us terrible news like these every day!
It seems quite counter-intuitive of a giant like Trader Joe’s to take this step, not only for the sake of Kosher-observant diners who would like to serve the cookies at a meat meal, but for that of the large community of Dairy-Intolerant people who would like their cookie and eat it too.

I have a simple solution, and I clamor for it constantly: Let me see you act on it:

Ask all your kosher stores to carry a good brand chocolate product line: It’s all here!

Better yet:
OK Supervision,
Kof-K Supervision
OU Supervision

Star-K Supervision

Esteemed Orthodox Supervision Rabbis: Let me say just this: Surely you all remember we at Levana Restaurant were the pioneers of Upscale Kosher Dining. How did we do it? We regularly drove you guys crazy so you get the Kosher-observant public the needed Kosher Supervision on many fabulous food products. You all know the rest: BH, the Kosher food industry has grown up to be quite healthy! So: Which one of you will go to those Heimish brands (they will kindly remain unnamed here) who crank out those mediocre inferior chocolate products, and ask them to improve on them? More chocolate less sugar, and you are there! Gosh, how hard could this be? How about that? We would all be very grateful, and we would be happy to patronize our own local brands. AND: we could accommodate the vegan diners, the dairy-intolerant diners. Dearest Menachem Lubinsky, for old times’ sake, could you please prevail upon the Kosher Supervisions to prevail upon the Heimish chocolate manufacturers to PLEASE make a good chocolate chip, end of story!

You are welcome! PS let me try again: Dear Trader Joe’s: On behalf of Kosher Customers and Dairy-intolerant customers: Will you please go back to producing your delicious Trader Joe chocolate chips 100% dairy-free? We would all be very grateful! thank you in advance!

29 replies
  1. Yocheved
    Yocheved says:

    CC aficionados:

    I was at Whole Foods today restocking on their 365 Extra Dark (70%) mini chocolate chunks (o-k pareve, $4.39), and noticed that Whole Foods also sells vegan chocolate chips that are o-u pareve for $3.49 a package. I have never tried them,. but WF’s products tend to be decent and they are closer in price to the lamented TJ chips.

    I”m sticking with the 70%. I like my chocolate as undiluted as possible and its worth it to me to cut corners elsewhere or to use cc’s a bit less often. But for those of you who are seeking a lower cost option, this may be it.

  2. Yocheved
    Yocheved says:

    I absolutely agree with you, Levana. The quality of kosher food has improved markedly over the past couple of decades (your restaurant had a lot to do with how that change started). But there are still “pockets of resistance.” With the exception of some of the European heimish chocolate (Schmerling, for example) every brand I have tried has been awful. Gritty, too sweet, low in actual chocolate solids…\.

    it speaks volumes that we would all rather use ShopRite — a store brand — than those.

    Possibly instead of starting a campaign aimed at TJ, where the frum community are small fish, we should start it with heimish chocolate brands, where we are the whole pond full.

    It’s not enough to not buy from them, we need to tell them why.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Exactly! Well, this is exactly how we, at Levana Restaurant (now closed) got so many fabulous food products on the kosher market. Why not unite and approach the heimish chocolate manufacturers and clamor for them to use less sugar more chocolate: that’s absolutely all there is to it. When they realize that the public actually cares and knows the difference, they will also realize the chocolate-flavored drops (Yuk!) party is over. Wanna keep manufacturers on their toes. Show them you know the difference! But when all the frumies buy all those inferior ingredients and baked goods from those inferior bakeries, it’s only natural that those merchants, purveyors of pure junk, laugh all the way to the bank! Just FYI: What you are calling Heimish European chocolate brands are in fact premium brands, several of them sub-brands of Suchard, Callebaut, etc…

  3. Judith
    Judith says:

    As I understand it, the TJ’s chips will not be DE. The issue is that due to a change in packaging an errant DAIRY chip(s) may be packaged in the same package. And, there’s no way of knowing because both the dairy chips and the parve chips look the same. Is it botul b’shishim? B’dieved, maybe, L’chatchila, I don’t know–as a Rav.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Hi Judith, I don’t think it falls in either category. Batal Beshishim is when there was a mistake, and a very small quantity was combined accidentally with a batch if something. Bedi-eved is when you might incur a serious loss of income. The solution is what I have been clamoring for, but everyone needs to unite: Don’t bark the wrong tree. Put pressure on the heimish brands to improve their products!!

  4. Devorie
    Devorie says:

    Thanks! I will definitely be on the look out for the cocoa powder (yes, that’s what I meant, not sure why I skipped the word cocoa).

  5. Devorie
    Devorie says:

    Does the Callebaut kosher powder have a hashgacha? Also, what is the best place to buy Callebaut?

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      I assume you mean the cocoa powder. Of course! Ha, Where to get Callebaut products. I see them everywhere, all cut up in chunks, but the cut up pieces don’t have the hechsher on them. It’s just as I said: If enough people talk to their stores, their kosher supervisors etc…. we’ll start seeing a real difference: THat is exactly what I used to do when I had my restaurant and when I catered.

  6. Yocheved
    Yocheved says:

    Sorry — it took me a few days to get back re the cocoa. I LOVE King Arthur Flour’s Double Dutch Dark Cocoa. It is amazingly rich and complex, and also makes gorgeous-looking, almost black brownies. Unfortunately you have to mail order it….
    When you do, try the brownie recipe on the package but cut down on the sugar. And add some WF (sorry TJ fanatics) extra bittersweet chocolate chunks.

    If you get hooked, we can order together and split the shipping. (I live in your neighborhood.)

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Wow, Yocheved, let’s discuss this! I buy Barry Callebaut Cocoa powder (fabulous!) Still let’s see what you might have in mind, please email me! xo

  7. judi
    judi says:

    Hey, people, breathe!!- the world’s not ending. The chips won’t be *made* on dairy equipment, they’ll be bagged by a machine that also bags dairy chips but is “dry cleaned,” not “wet cleaned” between runs. Those most affected would be people who are allergic to even miniscule amounts of dairy. Here’s the official Trader Joe’s statement:

    “The ingredients used in our semi-sweet chocolate chips have not changed, there are no dairy ingredients in the item, and the chips are made on equipment dedicated to non-dairy chocolate,” Trader Joe’s wrote in a statement.

    Only the bagging process changed, the statement said. The chips are bagged on machinery that also bags milk chocolate chips, and the supplier recently switched from a wet to a dry cleaning regimen on the bagging machine. “These changes … triggered the need for an FDA regulated, dairy-related allergen statement, and this in turn brought about a change in the Kosher certification for our item—going from ‘Kosher Parve’ to ‘Kosher Dairy,’” the statement read.

    An officer at OK Kosher Certification said supervising rabbis can no longer guarantee that there are no errant milk chocolate chips in the semi-sweet bags, so the packages will bear a dairy designation.

  8. yocheved
    yocheved says:

    I agree with Levana. Chocolate chips are not going to break the bank at worst (and trust me,I am very much on a budget). In any case, I would MUCH rather eat great chocolate chunks less often. In a related question, Levana,,do you feel that plain cocoa powder needs hashgacha? If you don’t, I have a recommendation that will knock your socks off.

  9. J.N.
    J.N. says:

    Just because Trader Joe’s chocolate chips are made on dairy equipment does not mean that they contain dairy ingredients. There are many dairy-free products that have a “D” with the kosher symbol, even though they also say “Dairy Free” on the package and have no dairy ingredients. For example, see Newman’s Own Wheat Free/Dairy Free cookies.
    As for being the “worst news ever”, I disagree – something like the airplanes hitting the World Trade Center does not even qualify as the worst news ever. Compared to that terrible event, how does a dairy chocolate chips stack up. You can always switch brands, but you can’t get back 3,000 lost lives.

  10. Iris Richman
    Iris Richman says:


    I just created a petition: Trader Joe’s: Keep chocolate chips non-dairy – certified as pareve, because I care about this important issue. Similar to the success when Duncan Hines and Stella D’Oro reversed plans to make previously pareve products dairy, I’m hoping that we can convince Trader Joe’s as well.

    I’m trying to collect 1000 signatures, and I could really use your help.

    To read more about what I’m trying to do and to sign my petition, click here:

    It’ll just take a minute!

    Once you’re done, please ask your friends to sign the petition as well. Grassroots movements succeed because people like you are willing to spread the word!


  11. Shprintzie Sheindel
    Shprintzie Sheindel says:

    There is large consensus that the chips will be designated OK-D, but indeed the ingredients remain parve, and therefore it really will be DE. As those of us who have good memories can state, the DE designation has been done away with for many years now, even though the halacha hasn’t changed. It is actually easier to detect if there is dairy in a “D” labeled product because of the relatively new designation Contains: Milk. Don’t let large corporate kashrus convince you otherwise. You could be machmir and bentch after your meat meal and then eat the DE food, but it isn’t even necessary. Anyway since most of the frum world follows the herd and doesn’t hold by the blurred out DE, and goes along with every humra, I guess this will affect people. Sad state of affairs that our rabbis don’t educate people any more on DE, or that the OU and the OK think we are not intelligent enough to learn about it.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Shprintzie I agree with you, but only up to a point. You still need to watch the utensils you will be baking in. Plus: For dairy-intolerant people as well as for vegan people, it is also bad news. All I can say is: They can’t be using good judgment.

  12. Leah
    Leah says:



  13. susan
    susan says:

    i don’t live near a trader joes or whole foods, but got so used to their choc chips that i stock up as often as i can get near one. i do need clarification though – is it dairy or dairy equipment that we are talking about – i guess that can make a little difference. but i am sure that i will miss them when they are gone. it’s just another one of those things that make you wonder “why” !

  14. Chana
    Chana says:

    Good point Yocheved, however, the Whole Foods chips are much more expensive than the TJ’s brand. For those of us who have large families and/or entertain every Shabbat, buying the chips at WF is difficult.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      It is a real solution. And I honestly don’t think the price if chocolate chips is bound to make a significant dent in any budget:-)

  15. yocheved
    yocheved says:

    I have never really understood why people are so very excited about TJ chocolate chips . Whole Foods makes extra bittersweet chocolate chunks (70%!) under their own brand that are also pareve and far superior. I understand that they may not be sweet enough for some but as far as I am concerned, TJ CHIPS are no loss.

    • Lévana
      Lévana says:

      Hi y’all! Do you hear what Yocheved is saying? Check it out asap! Sounds just great to me!

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