REVIEW: Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

December 25, 1995.

I thought I hit the jackpot. Not only did my stocking contain a Gumby keychain, but it contained an entire package of Andes mints, to keep all for myself! That was way better than the blueberry and butterscotch candy canes I got. (Those are two different flavors, BTW.) Andes were a super fancy candy I only ever got when we snuck them from our wealthy, mint-loving grandmother.

I started to realize they weren’t all that fancy when we would get them as Christmas gifts from those neighbors we barely knew. But even though my estimation of them has gone down, I still find myself decimating a package in a relatively short amount of time, with the wrappers accumulating in my pants pockets and dryer lint screen. Therefore, I was intrigued to try these new Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 2

The paper wrappers for these are a shiny silver, rather than the familiar green. The packaging makes it look like the wrappers will be green or bronze, but nope, it’s silver. When you strip the candies, they look just like a typical cookies ’n’ creme bar. There’s no green stripe indicating that it will be a mint flavor.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 3

However, once you pop them in your mouth, they taste just like regular Andes mints. (At least they taste exactly as I remember them; I didn’t taste the two kinds side by side.) There is no flavor of cookies ’n’ creme. The uniqueness of these is purely textural; there is a definite crunch. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s there. This means that there is no false advertising when the package says, “The Mint Taste You Love, With a CRUNCH!” That’s 100 percent accurate. Nothing more, nothing less.

This crunch will mean different things to different people. Some people will find the crunchy bits a welcome addition to the otherwise uninteresting Andes. Others will find the crunchy bits an unnerving distraction to the mints’ smoothness. It probably depends on whether you prefer creamy or crunchy peanut butter. And me, I usually prefer crunchy, so I like these new Andes.

I would gladly welcome a package of these in my stocking this year. But I don’t need another Gumby keychain. I still have the first one I got.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 4

(Nutrition Facts – 8 pieces – 210 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 4.67 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy bits provide new texture. Tastes exactly like standard Andes mints, as promised by the package. Keeping Christmas toys for 21 years.
Cons: Change is purely textural. Wrappers accumulating in pockets and lint screens.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s are ending their year of flavor flipping by taking their most far out creation to the dark side of the moon. Chocolate Cherry Garcia takes the classic Cherry Garcia flavor and swaps the cherry cream with more chocolate for the most perfectly harmonious of blackouts you can buy in scoop form. The flavor isn’t available in grocery stores yet and is in Scoop Shops for a limited time.

The first thing that struck me about Chocolate Cherry Garcia is the rich dark color of the ice cream itself. Sitting in the cold case next to the other flavors it looked more black than brown; a color I would associate with brownies or fudge more than cherries, but that’s certainly not a bad thing.

Going in for my first spoonful I was surprised the ice cream was pure chocolate and not chocolate-cherry because the slightly tart floral flavor of cherry came through unmistakably in a bite with no mix-ins. This must be the effect of the cherries themselves, juicy little devils they are, bleeding their wonderful flavor into the base.

Once you get a cherry, which is most of the time, the flavor really starts to sing. The big chunks of half-cherries swimming in chocolate make up a prominent amount of the ice cream and feel like downing the triumphant top of a sundae over and over again. Even though it’s not a holiday flavor, the melty choco-cherry combination reminds me of a cherry cordial and tastes festive and fancy – a reminder that simple ingredients can often yield grand results.

Ben & Jerry's Flavor Flip Chocolate Cherry Garcia Ice Cream 2

The “fudge flakes” here, just like in the original Cherry Garcia, are actually just chocolate chunks, nothing fudgey or flakey about them at all. The name is misleading, but the snap of the chips is very welcome against the sweet squish of the cherries, and make for a nice textural contrast to the creamy chocolate and juicy fruit. Three straight forward elements and they all have a chance to shine.

While not pushing the boundaries of ice cream experimentation by any means, Ben & Jerry’s have managed to put a very convincing spin on what is maybe their most well known and beloved flavor. The small change from cherry ice cream to chocolate provides a completely different and decadent scoop experience that is well balanced, rich, and exactly what my waistline doesn’t need the week after Thanksgiving.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup (109g) – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams sat fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 4 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $6.25
Size: 1 handpacked pint
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful bright cherry flavor. Three distinct textures. Swimming in decadence.
Cons: High potential for blackouts. Not what waistline needs after Thanksgiving.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Roll Peeps

Cinnamon Roll Peeps

Peeps. No one’s favorite candy over the age of six, and the primary wingman of the Easter bunny.

Somehow, people (I) keep buying them, so the company continues to crank out new flavors not just for Easter but Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, including this years Walgreens-exclusive Cinnamon Roll. Placed on the very bottom of the holiday shelf where only a toddler could eye them, I finally tracked these bad chicks down after four attempts and am ready for a sticky-good time.

A strong buttery cinnamon roll aroma hits you immediately as you open the package, sparkling with that signature Peeps coating, conjuring a rich wintery nostalgia. The type of freshly baked smells that erupt from the oven while rolls or muffins are being made actually emanate from the cellophane with convincing authority. The patented sitting chick blankly stares back at you with the challenge of “eat me, I dare you.”

Cinnamon Roll Peeps 2

The depth of flavor and freshly baked intrigue continue with your first bite – surprisingly not too sweet. The fatty cinnamon bread flavor they’ve infused these Peeps with actually make for a fairly complex candy snacking experience. To be honest I really wanted to hate these and I’m beginning to lament there are only three per package, rather than hiding the other two in the garbage can.

Cinnamon Roll Peeps 3

The taste has a multilayered aspect to it as well, with not only a cinnamon flavored marshmallow but a nice dunk into a “cinnamon flavored fudge” that adds the sensation of a luscious cinnamon roll icing. The “natural and artificial flavors” must focus on bringing a yeast element to the mouth party as these Peeps are more than simply a cinnamon or gingerbread take on a marshmallow.

Even though sugar is the first ingredient in both the ‘mallow and the cinnamon fudge, the balance of spices and creamy yeasty elements make these a worthy addition to any chimney-dangling stocking.

Cinnamon Roll Peeps 4

So how to they compare to your standard variety Peep? They absolutely destroy them. Naturally, I had to get some classic snowman Peeps to mingle with its new cousin for comparison, and the cinnamon roll chick almost punked the snowman so hard he had to retire. The regular Peep tasted flat and uninspired, and was generally disappointing, like when I asked Old Saint Nick for a GameCube in 2002, but got a new puzzle instead.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 chicks – 160 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 1.5 oz. package
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Strong cinnamon roll flavor. Baking smell without preheating the oven. Signature Peeps sparkle. Fudge coating adds depth and texture.
Cons: RIP regular Peeps. Puzzles instead of a GameCube.

REVIEW: Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Every fall I can count on two things: 1) Nick Saban and Alabama will absolutely obliterate every football team in the SEC. 2) Pumpkin spice food products will be thrusted in my face at every grocery store, restaurant, and fast food sandwich shop in America.

Yes, sandwich shop. Thanks to the ubiquitous up-sell of the 60-cent Subway cookie, the most popular flavor of the fall can help you forgot how mediocre your lunch was.

I like to think of pumpkin spice as the flavor version of Alabama’s football dynasty. The hype is everywhere and, for the most part, the hype is deserved. Sure, the Crimson Tide might trip up once a year, just like how we’ll get a dud like Pumpkin Spice M&M’s every once in awhile, but for the most part, pumpkin spice is unstoppable.

In a lot of ways, the rise of pumpkin spice has correlated with the decline of apple pie, autumn’s previously unstoppable flavor, that’s also a new Subway cookie flavor. You might think of apple pie as the Miami of flavors: Once a shoo-in to compete for a national title, but it’s now a run-of-the-mill ACC middleweight that loses to a depleted Notre Dame team.

It’s pretty much the same when it comes to Subway’s cookies.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 2

Like Alabama’s balanced offense and stifling defense, the Subway Pumpkin Spice Cookie was seemingly flawless. Textually, the edges were crunchy and the interior was chewy with strong notes of ginger and molasses dominating each bite. The cookie tasted like a ginger snap on steroids. The white confectionery chips added vanilla-flavored bursts of sweetness throughout the cookie, while the sweet taste of cinnamon lingered on my tongue even after I finished the cookie. If there’s one downside it’s that the cookie tastes more like a chewy ginger snap than a pumpkin cookie.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 3

The Apple Pie Cookie is not nearly as good as the pumpkin spice one. If we’re talking football, it loses by at least three touchdowns. The Apple Pie Cookie was much sweeter and, like Miami Hurricanes football during the early 2000s, it’s a sexy cookie on the outside. How can it not be with “naturally sweetened” apple chunks baked right into the dough? Yet like the Hurricanes dynasty coming undone, it’s got too many bells and whistles to work. The taste of clove and nutmeg is far too floral, while the sweetened apple chunks taste like someone freeze-dried applesauce. The texture of the chunks is off-putting and hyper sweet, and the entire cookie doesn’t really taste like pie.

Is pumpkin spice’s dominance over the seasonal flavor world annoying? Maybe, but like Alabama’s continued destruction of college football parity, it’s pretty incredible. Subway’s Pumpkin Spice Cookie only adds to that legacy, and is far and away a better end to a mediocre sub than the Apple Pie cookie.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Purchased Price: 60 cents (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pumpkin Spice)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Apple Pie)
Pros: Pumpkin spice cookie has a wonderfully complex texture that’s crunchy on the edges and chewy in the center. Deep, warm sweetness of molasses mixed with ginger, butter, and vanilla.
Cons: Pumpkin Spice cookie lacks deep pumpkin flavor. Cream Cheese chunks would have been better than “confectionery chips”. Apple Spice cookies tastes like what I’d imagine an apple pie air freshener to taste like. Unnatural tasting natural apple chunks.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Candy Canes and Cookies.

It has a cute ring to it, doesn’t it? Like the title of a baking blog, or a children’s Christmas story, or even a specialty store that sells holiday-themed socks. But eaten together?

Sure, we’ve had Candy Cane Oreo Cookies, but a part of me has always felt the confection world should never be combined with the creaming method world. It’s sort of like fish and cheese. Conventional wisdom tells us these things just don’t “go” together, and far be it for drumming up iconoclasm once Christmas comes around.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies change all that. It really shouldn’t be a surprise; I mean, these are cookies baked by magical elves. Yes, they may live in a tree owned by Kellogg’s, but I like to think of the Keebler elves as cousins to Santa’s elves, except more proficient in cookie making than toy making.

And let me tell you something: The Keebler elves nail the cookie thing here, just like how Santa’s elves nailed my 1997 request for a Nintendo Gameboy. The familiar shortbread cookie base is crunchy, buttery, and not overpoweringly sweet; small bursts of red nonpareils lend a sweet sugar cookie vibe, while the white fudge coating further adds to the frosting-like texture of the cookie.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

As for the peppermint taste, it’s right where it needs to be. The danger with peppermint anything is that the floral, light taste of mint overwhelms the taste buds and makes you feel like you’re eating a Tic-Tac. Thankfully, that is not the case with these cookies. The peppermint taste is there, but it’s not that rush of winter freshness that comes from binging on a box of candy canes (pro tip: not good). Instead, the floral taste gives a cool relief to the frosting-like white fudge, which has a rich vanilla sweetness.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

While Keebler’s elves are clearly taking a page from Santa’s elves in the design of a Christmas themed cookie, what they haven’t managed to do is perfect a flawless packaging and delivery system. The same nonresealable package that plagues Fudge Stripes houses the limited edition cookie, while the white fudge coating had melted by the time I opened the package. The ensuing peppermint white fudge, while lickable and probably awesome on cupcakes, was stickier and harder to wash off my paws than the sugar coating of a half-eaten candy cane.

You gotta give it to the Keebler elves. After years of offering plain Fudge Stripes (which are delicious) they’ve tinkered their treehouse production facilities and expanded into pumpkin spice, birthday cake, cookies & creme, and now peppermint. I’m not saying these would be a great cookie to leave out for Santa, but yeah, with the frosted shortbread cookie vibe, crunchy vanilla, and peppermint sweetness, I am kind of saying that.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories from fat, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 11.5 oz
Purchased at: United Supermarkets
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Fresh and floral peppermint taste that doesn’t linger on your tongue like a candy cane. Crunchy shortbread cookie with rich white fudge and crunchy vanilla flavor. Would make a solid seasonal ice cream sandwich base.
Cons: Keebler’s absolute reluctance to embrace resealable packaging. White fudge coating can melt and be messy. Limited appeal for non-peppermint lovers. The politics of elf family trees.