Trader Joe’s is well known for copycat products. From Rolled Corn Chili Lime Tortilla Chips (Takis) to Scandinavian Swimmers (Swedish Fish), the grocery chain isn’t exactly shy about taking inspiration from major brands. This is entirely legal “as long as reasonable consumers or purchasers will not be confused…into thinking that the product is the same as the original product, or is made by, affiliated with, sponsored by, or authorized by the makers of the original product,” according to

Well, I like to consider myself a reasonable consumer, and it’s true that I would never confuse TJ’s Joe’s-Joe’s for Oreos (Joe-Joe’s lack the perfectly crisp cookie, impossibly airy filling, and other such qualities that can only be formed in a lab by food scientists).

But Trader Joe’s latest “knockoff” product is a little different. It doesn’t take inspiration from a major brand, but rather everyone’s favorite food podcast, The Sporkful. Which btw, if you’re not listening to The Sporkful, you should go do that. In 2018, Dan Pashman, host of the sporkful, embarked on Mission: imPASTAble, a multiyear quest to invent a new pasta shape, actually get it made, and actually sell it. Pashman collaborated with the artisans at Sfoglini Pasta Company in Brooklyn, NY, and after three years of research, Cascatelli by Sporkful debuted online in March 2021. Having tasted Cascatelli myself, I can assure you that it is incredibly delicious and goes amazingly with my mom’s homemade marinara sauce.

Because Pashman invented the Cascatelli shape and has a patent for it, grocery stores have to make licensing deals with him in order to make and sell the pasta shape under their private labels. Several stores, including Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, sell Sfoglini brand Cascatelli, and Trader Joe’s and Banza currently make and sell their own Sporkful-approved versions of Cascatelli.

What is Vesuvio pasta?

After Cascatelli, Pashman decided he was done creating brand new pasta shapes, but he still wanted to contribute to the wonderful world of pasta. In early 2022, he embarked on a new mission to “pick a couple of hidden gems, shapes that have been languishing in the dusty corners of the pasta canon” and produce them with Sfoglini. One of those shapes was Vesuvio. Named for Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, Vesuvio looks “kinda like the ice cream in a soft serve cone.” The Sporkful’s version is “compact, with more tubes around the outside,” perfect for saucy dishes.

Where can you buy Vesuvio pasta?

The Sporkful began selling Vesuvio pasta produced by Sfoglini in January 2023. It’s currently available for purchase through the Sfoglini website, in six-packs and as part of a six-box variety pack. But because Vesuvio was already a pasta shape, and The Sporkful didn’t invent it, grocery stores don’t have to make licensing deals with them, or even consult them, before making and selling their own private label versions. And this week, the news arrived on Trader Joe’s fan pages across the internet – TJ’s is officially selling Vesuvio pasta. Interestingly, TJ’s Vesuvio appears to come in the fresh, refrigerated format, in contrast to the dried version for sale through Sfoglini.

Did Trader Joe’s copy The Sporkful’s Vesuvio pasta?

Although Vesuvio pasta is relatively new as pasta shapes go, it’s still been around in Italy for many years. So it can’t be guaranteed that Trader Joe’s copied The Sporkful on this one. But prior to The Sporkful’s production of the obscure pasta shape, it was rarely found outside of the regions around Mt. Vesuvius and was described as “a deep cut shape, even in Italy.” And considering that TJ’s has worked with The Sporkful on pasta before, it’s no surprise that they would keep up to date on Pashman’s latest pasta developments. Of course, it’s pasta-ble (sorry) that TJ’s has received Pashman’s blessing on their new Vesuvio pasta. But as an avid Sporkful listener, I’ve heard nothing of the sort. Considering the mysterious nature of Trader Joe’s, it’s really im-pasta-ble to say.