Did You Know About the Hidden Stuffed Animals at Trader Joe’s?

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Stuffed Bear wearing a nametag at Trader Joe's

Ever feel like you’re being watched at Trader Joe’s? 👀

Unless you’ve been bringing a very observant child with you to Trader Joe’s, you may have never noticed that your grocery shopping is taking place under the watchful eye of a hidden stuffed animal! While we can’t confirm that every TJ’s participates in this fun game of hide-and-seek, many locations do hide a stuffed animal somewhere in the store. If a child happens to find it during their shopping trip, they’ll receive a small prize!

We went looking at our local Trader Joe’s, and we found the cute bear shown above. Her name is Buttercup, and she was wearing a floral shirt and a TJ’s nametag. Our TJ’s gives out a lollipop to any child who finds Buttercup during their shopping trip!

Lollipop and Trader Joe's shopping carts

While it’s unclear exactly when this fun tradition began, we hear that it’s been going on in some locations for years. Kids love it, and parents are grateful for something to keep their little shopping cart passengers occupied!

If your child locates the hidden animal at Trader Joe’s, just let a Crew Member know so they can claim their prize. The stuffed animals vary from store to store, but we’ve heard of kids finding penguins, monkeys, squirrels, lobsters, whales… just about any animal you can imagine!

Does your TJ’s hide a stuffed animal? Keep your eyes peeled and let us know what kind of animal you find! 

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Join The Discussion

Comments 36

  1. Jervine87

    We’ve been doing this since ours open a few years ago. Ours is a Nittany Lion since it’s right near Penn State. They dress him up for holidays too. So fun

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      How cute! Thanks for sharing with us! Glad you have been enjoying this at your location!

    • Becky08

      We are… Penn State! We are big fans too! Unfortunate loss on Saturday, though!

      • Joyce

        Over rated….

        • Becky08

          Haha… well I don’t really have a choice 😋 it was part of the package when I married my husband, lol. Honestly, I’ve never been a huge football fan.. but I do enjoy hosting the parties!

  2. krystalknight

    Our Dillion’s does this. We have Mac the monkey and I think Ollie? The owl. At 2 separate locations. I’ve never noticed any other store do this. They generally give out fruit snacks as the prize.

  3. MoMinLA

    My kids (4yo & 7yo) dread going to the market w/me but TJ’s makes it so rewarding (no more bribery from me!). Sometimes the kind employee at the front gives a little hint to help my little one find Jo-Jo the monkey.

  4. Yess

    One store has an otter the other has an octopus.

  5. Amanda

    Fresh Thyme Market does this as well! Find the tractor they love every week and tell the cashier, your child or multiple children can choose a fresh salt water taffy or an organic sucker! PLUS theres bin with free fresh fruit, raisins, gummies, bars of your choice for your children to eat while you shop!

    • Jill

      Our Fresh Thyme does this with an orange tractor… and it was great until they stopped giving suckers and started giving stickers… my 6yo was super disappointed!

  6. Mmosso

    We have “Pickles” a gray squirrel at our location in the Chicagoland area🙂

  7. Cheryl Sula

    We have a turtle named Shelly in the NW burbs of Chicago! My littles love finding her!

  8. Kelly

    Our hides a Yoda doll 😉

  9. Angela V.

    My local TJs in WA hides a Yeti. 🙂

  10. ML

    Our Trader Joe’s is a Monkey!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Too cute!

  11. Marshajean77

    Ours has a lobster at the jersey shore!

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      LOVE IT! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Beth

    We have a red bull for the UNO Mavericks and a blue jay for the Creighton Bluejays- in Omaha, NE. My kids love it! They also play the hide-the-tractor game at Fresh Thyme. It really does occupy the kids pretty well. 🙂

  13. Myrah

    My store has a shark. 🙂

  14. Anne

    The college town near where I live has a stuffed mastodon because the university has a museum with several huge mastodon skeletons on display.

  15. Julie

    Yes! Our TJ’s in Houston is a converted old movie theatre. Woody from Toy story is always in a new spot. Lollipops for kids and kids at heart too!❤️

  16. Jackie

    We have Shelby the turtle in Virginia Beach!

  17. Meggy

    Eugene, Oregon, here. Our kids have to find Yoda. 😀

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s awesome, Meggy!

  18. Chris

    I am now going to make a special trip to TJs in Wellington, FL to see if they participate. The store has only been open a few years. So cute!

  19. Jean

    Ours is a 🦞!

  20. AshleyS

    We have Squirt the turtle. My 5 year old asks to go to TJ every day after school. There is always a hint but customer service at our Castro Valley, CA store.

    • AshleyS


  21. Amber

    Our store in Jacksonville Florida has 6 manatees. You have to find all 6 to get a prize, which is a tangerine or banana.

  22. Verna

    We have a turtle at our northern NJ store. I don’t usually go, but my daughter tells me when she goes to “the turtle store” with her cousin. They will each get a lollipop for finding it.

  23. MrsOspina

    We have a duck, can’t remember his name!

  24. Jaclyn

    We have 2 monkeys at the Fairfield CT store. They’ve made it even more convenient by leaving the lollipops in a treasure chest by customer service so kids can help themselves. They’ve also been leaving bananas out as an option too lately.

  25. Gina

    Ah! I didn’t realize you have to earn the lollipops/stickers. When I first had a kid they were just offered them at checkout. The few times they were offered my daughter politely asked for one. Oops.

    • Stacy F (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      They’ve handed them out to my kiddos too, Gina! It’s just a fun way to keep the kids occupied while you’re shopping.

  26. Sara

    We have Iggy the iguana in Mesa AZ and Rocky the roadrunner in Gilbert AZ. My kids have always loved the little carts and looking for the stuffed animals at Trader Joe’s!

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