Joe Coulombe, the Joe in Trader Joe’s, passed away. Over the course of his life, his chain of grocery stores went from a local favorite in Pasadena, CA in 1967 to a national chain with over 500 locations. To many, Coulombe will be remembered by the vast selection of one of a kind snacks and unique, delicious foods Trader Joe’s has built a loyal following around. Everything but the bagel seasoning blend is our everything, and countless people took to Twitter to share similar sentiments about a myriad of Trader Joe’s products to commemorate Coulombe.
Coulombe passed on February 28 from a long illness, his son, also named Joe Coulombe, told the Associated Press. He first started the company with the mission of providing affordable, healthy foods that would be difficult to find in most grocery stores, but at a lower price than the more gourmet high-end stores that would be likely to stock unusual items. His idea paid off and the store’s loyal following continues to this day.
When news broke of Coulombe’s passing, Twitter turned into a Trader Joe’s on a Saturday as it flooded with people expressing their sadness at the news as well as their favorite products from the store.
Many people thanked him for the classics, like the store’s inexpensive wine selection, while others pointed out all the little ways the store went above and beyond to make something you can’t find anywhere else, such as a cat-themed advent calendar.
Trader Joe’s products have a cult following. Coulombe changed the way people shop for food and the kind of foods for which they shop. Calling a bottle of cheap wine “two-buck Chuck” comes directly from Trader Joe’s stocking bottles of the tasty and inexpensive wine company Charles Shaw Wine for two dollars. There is a whole subsection of the internet devoted to recipes based around Trader Joe’s products. And don’t even get us started on cauliflower gnocchi — it’s basically a religion.
Our grocery shopping lists were forever changed for the better thanks to Trader Joe’s, the countless people sharing their favorite snacks on the internet have Coulombe to thank for that.