That first year we were sorely disappointed to find it's a seasonal item. It shows up in September and disappears after Thanksgiving sometime. That's a lesson I only had to learn once, and now every fall we stock up for the year - about 30 boxes.
I've actually never made a loaf from the mix - we always do muffins. And with mini eaters around here we make mini muffins. The mix itself is perfect, but embellishments only improve it. Our favorite is adding a handful of oats, a couple tablespoons of ground flax seed and about 1/2 to 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips. Sometimes chopped pecans. A friend told me she made them with white chocolate chips, which I'm sure is good if you believe in white chocolate. I think they'd be good with anything - any nuts or dried fruits, coconut, lemon or orange zest, etc. Maybe not capers. It makes about 4 dozen minis. After they cool we freeze them and eat them straight from the freezer for breakfast or snacks - they crumble less when frozen, which means less mess.
I've never met a kid (or adult) that doesn't like these. Once I took some on a visiting teaching visit in New York, and my friend's kids gobbled them up while I was there; she had to rescue one for herself and put it out of reach. They truly disappeared at Hazel's last birthday party. Today I babysat a little 1-year-old girl for a few hours who cried almost the whole time except when she was snarfing muffins.
Making these has of course become a favorite family activity for us. We even made them for FHE last week. Talk about a perfect evening - fillling the house with spicy autumnal aromas while having a little lesson, then eating them warm with milk before bed.
I mean, I'm truly sorry if you don't have a Trader Joe's. I know that pain. But get a friend to hook you up - it's only here once a year, and it's quickly becoming my favorite thing about fall. It's hard to compete with something that elicits, "Mommy, you make the best muffins in the whole world!"