Who doesn't love Trader Joe's? From gourmet frozen food to its famous "two buck chuck" wine, this grocery store has it all going on. But what about Trader Joe's history? 

As a 2nd generation TJ's shopper (my parents were regulars at the original store), I feel qualified to tell you all about Trader Joe's history.

The First Store

Trader Joe's, Grocery, store, produce, purchase, food
Caroline Ingalls

Believe it or not, the first Trader Joe's was actually not called Trader Joe's. It was called Pronto Markets, until 1967 when the first "real" Trader Joe's opened its doors in Pasadena, CA. Their speciality at the time was California wines. 

Have you ever wondered why the staff wear Hawaiian shirts? Apparently it has to do with the rise in popularity of tiki culture in the 1960s. Whatever the reason, the Hawaiian shirts are another distinct difference between TJ's and other (boring) supermarkets.

The 1970s

cereal, corn
Emma Delaney

The 1970s was when the store really got going. They released their first "private label grocery product," which was granola, and it was also the first time that their now-famous bell was used. One ring means they need another open register, two rings mean someone has a question at the register, and three rings call over a manager.

Love your Trader Joe's reusable bag? Well the first one was introduced in 1977. This is also when all your favorite Trader Joe's brands (think: Trader Giotto, Trader Jose and Trader Ming) came to life.

The 1980s

almond butter, Trader Joe's, Nut butter
Julia Gilman

The 1980s held expansion for Trader Joe's, in influence and geographically. The store was featured in an article for their All American Nut Butter, which is still ranked as one of the best.

In 1988, Trader Joe's made the big jump from being a So-Cal chain to opening up a store in San Rafael. While this might have been a big leap in the 1980s, now Trader Joe's has over 400 stores.

The 1990s

Joyce Yao

When Trader Joe's first opened in 1967, their bags had no handles on them. Crazy, huh? But in 1992 they decided to add those handles, which (as TJ's says themselves) is pretty "handy."

The 90s is when Trader Joe's exploded and started opening locations outside California in 1993 and then headed across the nation to Boston in 1997. It was a pretty impressive decade for the store.


coffee, milk, beer
Abby Slanetz

Trader Joe's has been voted America's Best Supermarket multiple times and has some amazing products. The best may be its brilliant Speculoos Cookie Butter or one of their iconic "two buck chuck" wines.

In 2007 they officially pledged to take out artificial trans fats, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives and GMO ingredients from all their private label products. They have also established themselves as the go-to store for pumpkin lovers with 86 new products for Fall 2016. 

As the store reaches its 50th anniversary important to remember its roots as a So-Cal store selling Californian wines. While times have changed, Trader Joe's still as that small-store atmosphere in every one of its 400+ locations.