I have mixed feelings when it comes to holiday food items. On one hand, I detest peppermint with the kind of passion Buffalo Bills fans usually reserve for anything New York Jets related. By the same token, I can’t get behind this trend of covering everything in chocolate and somehow proclaiming it to have something to do with Plymouth Rock, Santa Claus, the Baby Jesus, a dreidel, or even some damn Festivus pole. Yes, Santa is fat, and eating everything covered in chocolate will probably make you fat, but if that’s the only connection you’re making, then you’ve lost me.
On the other hand, the months of November and December mean gingerbread. Warm and slightly spicy, with a distinctive honey-molasses flavor and usually a smiling face that gets bitten off first, gingerbread people make peppermint and fruitcake and all that other trite holiday crap I usually feed to my uncle’s dog completely worth it.
But what happens when simple, traditional, and thank-God-it-never-changes gingerbread is suddenly subjected to one of my biggest pet peeves of holiday food merchandising and covered in milk chocolate? That was the question at stake when I beheld the Limited Edition Gingerbread Twix on the shelves of Walmart.
At first, I was offended. How could I not be? It struck me as a bastardization of a candy I had only fond memories of as a child. Vague and clouded as those memories are from what surely was a sugar-induced Halloween experience, Twix always made it into my “keeper” pile. Dare I say, I think an 11-year-old Adam, dressed up in a horribly oversized Admiral Ackbar mask, may have actually proclaimed Twix to be the most underrated candy of all time.
However, recent samplings of leftover Halloween candy from the office candy bowl do not corroborate these memories. Don’t get me wrong, Twix is far from offensive, but as one of the 74.3%* of candy bars that combine caramel, chocolate, and something crunchy, it hardly stands out. So you might say I passed from offended to intrigued, and having no self-discipline whatsoever, bought a bag of Gingerbread Twix.
*Completely unscientific number based on RFG (Random Fucking Guess) sampling. Should you actually try to confirm this number, I believe you’d come remarkably close.
An initial crunch of the fun size wafer reveals everything good about the classic Twix and more. With a sturdy cookie base and some really excellent Stretch Armstrong action from the above caramel, it’s crunchy in a way that doesn’t fragment into a zillion tiny candy pieces. The initial flavor is milk chocolate—-and not, mind you, Hershey’s cheap kind of milk chocolate—-with sweet caramel, and a hint of buttery sugar cookie.
After the initial taste of chocolate and caramel, there emerges a certain je ne sais quoi flavor element. Like a symphony, it increases gradually in its volume and intensity. A slightly spicy-sweet note that tastes just like a gingerbread cookie serves as this candy’s crescendo. There’s also a s’mores element, and, as odd as it sounds, it makes sense given the notes of cinnamon and honey that both graham crackers and gingerbread share (at least, any of the graham crackers worth eating if you ask me.)
After carefully extracting the chocolate, cookie, and caramel elements and sampling them independently, it tastes as if the gingerbread flavor rests within the chocolate coating, and not, as the package indicates, in the caramel. Not overpowering, the gingerbread flavor nevertheless is the defining taste of the singular bite, and for some strange reason it just works wonderfully with the chocolate.
What I like about the use of gingerbread in Twix as opposed to other candy bars is that there’s a default contrast in textures offered from the crunchy and moist interplay of the cookie and caramel elements, respectively. Seeing as though gingerbread is sometimes served as a moist cake or cookie and other times served as a harder biscuit-like cookie, this appeal to both kinds of textures is optimal. As for why gingerbread suddenly seems to work with the combination of chocolate and caramel, you’ve got me. Perhaps it’s that Christmas magic that powers Santa’s sleigh and allows reindeer to fly, or maybe it’s just that Twix was always very good and just needed a little extra oomph, but this candy bar is what I like to call sneaky awesome.
Frankly, it’s good enough to make me admit I might need to rethink this chocolate-covered everything holiday boycott I’ve had going on. Just don’t make me try anything peppermint flavored, because that’s one holiday food aversion I’m never going to give up.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 80 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)
Item: Gingerbread Twix Cookie Bars
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Actually tastes like a gingerbread cookie. Covered in real milk chocolate. And it works! Textural contrast. Gives the usual Twix flavor the kind of oomph that also makes reindeer fly and Santa fit down chimneys. No remorse or guilt for decapitating gingerbread people with one swift bite. Portion control.
Cons: Rethinking holiday food aversions. Buying Christmas candy before Halloween. No royal icing. Not getting to decapitate a gingerbread person in some misguided Godzilla-type fantasy.