QUICK REVIEW: Brach’s Chocolate Mint Cookie Candy Corn

Brach s Chocolate Mint Cookie Candy Corn

Never in my life have I seen a cookie that looks like what’s on the package of this Walgreens-exclusive Brach’s Chocolate Mint Cookie Candy Corn. I’m pretty sure they designed the candy corn first and then invented a cookie that looked like it.

But they could have saved themselves the trouble of inventing new cookies if they just called it “Chocolate Mint Candy Corn.” There is nothing particularly “cookie” about it, and chocolate mint is novel enough as it is.

When I open up the bag, I get a strong whiff of Shamrock Shake. If blindfolded, I might think I was at McDonald’s six months ago instead of in my work’s break room at the cusp of fall.

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The white tip tastes like ordinary candy corn. The green center is vaguely spearmint, but not as overpowering as those green starlight mints they sell at the gas station. I thought the chocolate end would taste like Brach’s perennial Indian corn; it doesn’t, but that might be because the mint has infiltrated everything. Altogether, the candies have a fake chocolate, fake mint flavor to them.

I have to admit my biases: I like candy corn. I like mint. And I like fake chocolate flavors. Therefore, I find these decent. But I suspect many consumers will find them unappetizing.

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They taste like watery instant mint hot chocolate – you know, made with water instead of milk and not nearly enough powder. But if you want something decadent, you’re not going to be looking at candy corn anyway.

The concept of this candy is really weird. Some weird things are disgusting. Some weird things are awesome. But this particular weird thing falls somewhere in between.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walgreens (Exclusive Flavor)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (15 pieces) 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

QUICK REVIEW: Limited Edition Werther’s Original Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels

Limited Edition Werther s Original Harvest Caramels Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels

When I first pop one of these Werther’s Original Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels in my mouth, I get a flavor that makes me think, “Whoa. This totally tastes like fall.” It may be over 90 degrees, but the pumpkin spice flavor truly makes it feel like autumn.

Unfortunately, a few chews in, that autumnal flavor has faded, and all I taste is typical Werther’s candy. It doesn’t give me enough time to parse out whatever spices or flavors they used. All I get is caramel, with a weird, almost floral aftertaste. Even if I start fresh on a new piece, I can’t taste autumn. I have to wait awhile to detect the pumpkin spice again.

I had three separate tasting sessions, and this was the case each time.

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The serving size is six pieces, but I don’t recommend that many in one sitting. For one thing, it’s a lot of sweetness and a lot of wrappers all at once; but furthermore, there’s no way you would taste the pumpkin spice by the sixth.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with the caramel. It’s soft and chewy, but not so sticky it stays stuck to your teeth. It’s a yummy candy, except for that weird aftertaste. This is not a salted caramel flavor, even though the typo on the nutrition label says they’re 276 percent sodium.

Limited Edition Werther s Original Harvest Caramels Pumpkin Spice Soft Caramels 4

Overall, it’s great as a caramel. But you only get a few seconds of pumpkin spice.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6 pieces) 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cookies & Screeem M&M’s

Cookies  Screeem M M s

These Cookies & Screeem M&M’s exemplify a trend I have been noticing in the last few years. In a world inundated with pumpkin, peppermint, and red velvet flavors for holidays, some companies make whatever flavor they feel like and somehow say it’s a holiday version. (I was disappointed last November when I asked for a pumpkin shake at Jack in the Box and their only “seasonal” offering was a Golden Oreo salted caramel shake. What does that have to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas!?) Like last year’s Boo-tterscotch M&Ms, these Cookies & Screeem ones don’t really have anything to do with Halloween.

They’re kind of Halloweeny because they’re black (or dark purple). I guess that’s how they justify it. But it’s still not as Halloweeny as the regular orange and black M&Ms of my childhood. (If my memory serves me right, they added purple and green to the orange and black in 2008, which I thought made them look more Eastery, and they switched to fall colors in 2010.)

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These M&M’s consist of a speckled shell, a layer of dark chocolate, and a white chocolate center. That’s all that makes up the “cookies and cream” side of it; if they added other flavors, I can’t detect it, and the ingredients list is too vague. I do think it’s a cool concept to have two kinds of chocolate in one candy.

One of the first things I notice when I eat one is a chemical quality, probably from all the food coloring they used to make them black.

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I like dark chocolate M&M’s. I like white chocolate M&M’s. But sometimes two rights make a wrong. These chocolates aren’t terrible, but I feel like the bitterness of the dark clashes with the sweetness of the white. I like the two flavors better when they’re on their own.

The sizes are inconsistent, and I actually like the small ones better. The ratio of dark to white is more enjoyable in the small ones.

I wasn’t able to brush my teeth immediately after trying these, and a few minutes after I had tasted them, I got an aftertaste that tasted like Oreo. That was the closest I got to the cookies and cream experience, and even that was fleeting. I would have liked these a lot more if they followed a traditional cookies and cream approach: white chocolate with crunchy cookie bits.

Will you go through the whole bag? Probably. But this is one of the brand’s weaker offerings.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 16 pieces – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, twenty grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar (including 17 grams of added sugars), and less than 1 gram of sugar.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Cool concept of two chocolates in one candy. Not terrible. At least they’re trying to branch out.
Cons: Chemical flavor. White chocolate and dark chocolate taste better on their own. Doesn’t screeem “Halloween.” Doesn’t screeem “cookies and cream.” Doesn’t screeem “a product that will come back next year.”

REVIEW: Little Debbie Red, White and Blueberry Creme Rolls

Little Debbie Red White and Blueberry Creme Rolls

Do you remember that lyric from “Sam’s Town” by the Killers? “Red, white, and blue upon a birthday cake; my brother, he was born on the Fourth of July.” Well, these Little Debbie Red, White and Blueberry Creme Rolls are nothing like that.

First of all, my brother was born closer to Halloween.

Second, if you tried to use these for the cake at a birthday party, well, you would cry too if it happened to you.

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And third, there’s no blue on them. Little Debbie’s other patriotic goodies this year have blue star sprinkles on the white icing and red stripes, but these blueberry rolls have no such sprinkles, and the blueberry filling is purple. Now, we all know that blueberries become purple when you put them in things, but these have artificial colors and no blueberries.

Why didn’t they keep their patriotic theme by just making it blue instead of purple? Or at least put some stars on top like they did the others? The red and white outside looks as much like a candy cane as it does the waving stripes of the American flag.

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When I ate the roll, I was surprised to find the blueberry flavor to be faint. The last Little Debbie cakes I had were the St. Patrick’s Day Creme Rolls, which were very minty, so I expected the berry flavor to stand out more.

Instead, it hides behind the generic white “icing” and yellow cake. If you’ve had Little Debbie cakes, you know what I’m talking about —- that super sweet coating and that dry-ish cake that always sounds better than it is.

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I had another roll the next day to make sure I still thought the berry flavor was lacking. And then I figured it out. I can taste and even smell the blueberry, but the level of berry-ness is more along the lines of a blueberry bagel than a blueberry pie.

I think this works to the cake’s advantage; fake blueberry flavor often goes wrong. Oddly enough, I could taste the blueberry more when I ate the cake as a whole than when I licked the creme by itself. The creme alone reminds me of the excessive frosting on cheap grocery store cupcakes.

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I had to buy some blueberries, bananas, and asparagus along with my snack cakes to make me feel better about myself, so I decided to put some blueberries on the last bit of the cake. And I really liked it better that way; it provided a nice contrast to the overly sweet pastry. Plus, I got to pretend to be healthy.

At thirty-something cents a cake, these are passable. You get what you pay for. I would have liked a stronger blueberry flavor, but the faintness is better than too much.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 280 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 20 milligrams of potassium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 13.1 oz. package (6 rolls)
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Blueberry flavor is light, which is better than too much. Creativity behind a new flavor instead of just seasonal colors. Tastes better with real blueberries. You get what you pay for.
Cons: Looks like Christmas on the outside and Easter on the inside. Super sweet “icing” and cake that sounds better than it is.

REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich

Chick fil A Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich

It was a little strange to get the new summer-themed Chick-fil-A Smokehouse BBQ Bacon Sandwich on the day of an unseasonable May snowstorm in Salt Lake City, but fortunately deliciousness knows no season.

From top to bottom, the sandwich consists of a Hawaiian bun, honey smokehouse BBQ sauce, bacon with a brown sugar pepper blend, Colby-Jack cheese, grilled chicken, lettuce, and bun.

The Hawaiian bun is soft and pleasant, but I honestly didn’t notice it being too unusual for a bun. On one hand, that allowed me to appreciate the sandwich’s toppings without the bun getting in the way; on the other hand, it means it maybe didn’t need to be a special bun.

I tried to taste the barbecue sauce by itself, but much of it had soaked into the bun, so it was hard to isolate. On the sandwich, the flavor wasn’t overbearing, but it added enough of a zing to make it unlike other Chick-fil-A offerings. This sauce is different than the dipping BBQ sauce they offer —- it’s less sweet.

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I’m a fast-food heretic, because I don’t love bacon. I can take it or leave it. This bacon was of the crunchy variety, which is how I prefer it. As part of the sandwich, I didn’t notice its flavor, but it provided a nice texture. I nibbled a few pieces by themselves, and it seemed slightly more flavorful than ordinary bacon you might get elsewhere, though that might have been the sauce. If you are a bacon lover, you would want more of it than the three small pieces I got. Even I would have appreciated a little more.

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Even though the sandwich is named for the sauce and the bacon, it was the Colby-Jack cheese that stole the show. I got two slices. I don’t know whether that’s the recipe, or whether the workers didn’t want to peel them apart. Either way, I appreciated it, and the cheese melted slightly against the warmth of the meat. The flavor and the texture were both delightful.

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The chicken is grilled, probably because of the barbecue theme. It was like the chicken on all other grilled Chick-fil-A sandwiches, meaning it was as good as it gets at a fast food joint. There were no gristly pieces I had to spit out.

The lettuce is lettuce. I liked the crispness to counter the squishiness of the bun, chicken, and cheese.

When I ordered the sandwich, the cashier told me how good it was. Therefore, I expected its flavor to be much stronger. It didn’t “wow” me the way I anticipated. But if it had been stronger, I don’t think it would have been better. They got the components just right to be tasty but not overwhelming or gimmicky.

There was nothing bad about the sandwich. I felt like they played it safe, and they could have taken more risks to make an absolutely amazing item. But it works, and this might be my new favorite Chick-fil-A entrée.

(Nutrition Facts – 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1200 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $6.15 ($9.09 as part of a medium meal)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tasty BBQ sauce but not too much of it. Perfectly melted Colby-Jack. Chick-fil-A chicken breast. Crunchy bacon. Soft Hawaiian bun.
Cons: The flavor of the bun and the bacon were not particularly noticeable. Not knowing whether I was supposed to have two slices of cheese. Playing it safe.