Trader Joe’s Has a Secret Game for Kids — And There’s a Prize at the End

published Jul 16, 2023
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Trader Joe's Retail Strip Mall Location. Trader Joe's is a chain of specialty grocery stores in the U.S. II
Credit: Jonathan Weiss/ Shutterstock

One of the joys of going to Trader Joe’s is stumbling upon items you didn’t think you’d find there, like new products, discontinued options that made a return, and even Easter eggs that will lead you to buried treasure.

Yes, Trader Joe’s has a secret game that your children can play to keep them from getting bored while you’re busy doing the groceries. 

Here’s how it works: Each day, a store employee takes a stuffed animal and hides it somewhere in the aisles. It could be atop the shelves, or squeezed in between product boxes, or wherever there’s a good hiding spot. Any kid who finds it will get a prize — usually a lollipop or a sticker.

And to make the hunt more rewarding, the prize is inside an actual treasure chest. So cute!

According to a TJ’s manager, the activity is a way for the stores to engage with their younger customers and make the experience of going to Trader Joe’s more memorable. “Kids seem to LOVE it and parents go along with it too.”

The secret game, which has been around for many years now, slightly varies from store to store. For instance, there’s usually just one stuffed animal in each location, unlike the two (a duck and a turtle) found in the TikTok video above.

Also, the kinds of animals vary. One place, for instance, may have a monkey; in another store, a lobster or a cougar. At a Santa Fe branch, there’s a prairie dog named Diggy. The comments section also added other animals (and dinosaurs) they’ve seen: sharks, penguins, whales, and foxes, to name a few.

Good luck with the treasure hunt!