REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Banana Chocolate Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Banana Chocolate Milano Cookies

As I sit here gazing out at mounds of dirty snow piled as far as the eye can see, I dream of a better place.

So disillusioned, I choose to believe a bite into Pepperidge Farm’s new Banana Chocolate Milano cookie will result in a reverse York Peppermint Patty effect and I will be whisked away to beautiful Milan, Italy.

Perhaps one single bite will send me to a tropical island, where I can pluck ripe bananas straight from a tree. We’ll soon find out.

It seems wild to call a cookie that is shelved right next to fish-shaped crackers aimed at children “decadent,” but that’s the word that comes to mind when I think of a Milano.

I’m of the opinion you can’t screw up a Milano. I’ve tried plenty of varieties and liked em all. I’m also a massive banana groupie (that doesn’t sound right) so I have no doubts these would be winners.

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I don’t know what it is with Pepperidge Farm’s packaging, but I never seem to open it properly. After tearing the bag to shreds, I was hit with an unmistakable banana scent that perked me up. It reminded me of the smell when you walk into a bakery. I was now ready to be whisked away.

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When I took the first bite into the wafer, nothing happened. The world isn’t fair.

It tasted as if the wafer had a bit of banana flavor baked in. But I couldn’t really tell if it was the banana filling bleeding through. I’m pleading ignorance here. I think it just tasted that way since it’s such an airy wafer. That’s one of the best parts about Milano, the crunchy, but not at all dense cookie.

I put it in my mouth and inhaled it like a total weirdo. Who does that? I essentially tried to smoke a cookie. I can tell you there is a nice banana…um, air when you try to smoke a cookie. Don’t smoke cookies, kids.

It wasn’t until I hit the center that the banana flavor come out in full force.

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There’s a thin layer of banana filling with the familiar chocolate layer. It had a similar texture to the chocolate. The bag actually refers to it as “banana flavored chocolate.”

Here’s my question: Where has “banana flavored chocolate” been my entire life? This was a revelation for me. I mean, I’m sure plenty of products have used a similar substance before, but why wasn’t I aware of it? I feel like I’ve missed so much. “Banana flavored chocolate” is awesome. I want more of this banana chocolate concoction in my life.

The banana is strong but not overly so. I think banana bread is very dependent on texture, but these should remind you of that flavor. Few things top a nice fresh slice of banana bread, but these are a great attempt at imitating the flavor in cookie form, with the added bonus of chocolate mixed in.

After the initial tasting, I kept a few aside to have with my morning coffee, and it was naturally a delicious pairing. Banana Chocolate Milano Cookies are a home run. As far as I’m concerned, Pepperidge Farm still hasn’t made a bad Milano.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Banana Chocolate Milano Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 7 oz. (about 16 cookies)
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Banana flavored chocolate. Milano’s consistency. Airy wafer. Great for dipping. No artificial flavors or preservatives. A short reprieve from the winter blues.
Cons: No instant transportation properties in each bite. A rapidly growing cookie smoking habit. Fear of missing out on more banana flavored chocolate treats. Pain in the neck packaging. Limited edition.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

I won a goldfish from the fair when I was ten. I was so excited holding him in his bag on the drive home. Oh the fun we were gonna have… Then, I realized all he did was swim in circles. About a month later I had to flush him down the toilet. That was basically the same experience as buying and eating Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs.

The instant you tear open the bag, you’re met with no smell. Seriously, there is barely a hint of a scent from these things. I’ve never had a cheese based snack that didn’t have a distinct aroma. These smell like cardboard.

The lack of smell didn’t bother me at first because artificially flavored cheese isn’t exactly my favorite cologne, but then I tasted them and, yeah, we’re just dealing with a bland product here.

The flavor itself reminded me of Wise Cheez Doodles, only with much less flavor. These are the cheese puff equivalent of Fruit Stripe gum. The instant you get hit with the cheese flavor, you lose it. The only other sensation I got was a “corny” aftertaste. Not “corny” like my writing, but “corny” like “I just ate corn.”   

I’ll tell you one flavor I never thought of once while eating these – grilled cheese.   There’s really nothing “grilled cheese” about them. I kinda figured you’d get a nice buttery element with the cheese, but nope. Nada. 

They could have tagged this with any description they wanted and it would have been on par with “Twisted Grilled Cheese.” That name is strictly a marketing ploy. I was really hoping they would have been more in line with the Flavor Blasted Cheddar Goldfish crackers, but alas, they were just weak cheese doodles.

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You’re probably wondering where the “twist” comes in. So am I. Each puff has little green sprinkles on them, which I assume are pepper flakes, because there is a small heat element. Very small. This of course is backed up by the fact that neither “pepper” nor anything really relating to “pepper” is listed in the ingredients. So…either way, the heat lingers on your tongue longer than the actual cheese flavor.

It’s not all bad though. The texture is the saving grace – on a scale from “fresh puffed Cheeto” to “stale Cap’n Crunch cereal piece,” it definitely lands closer to the former.  There is a nice light crisp to each bite, but in time, I could feel them shredding the roof of my mouth.

And ya know why? Because I’m still eating them as I type. Here I am, talking about how boring these Goldfish are, yet they’re going down like water…which is ironic because I think Pepperidge Farm’s main reason for shaping their crackers like fish was due to the fact they pair so well with water. I’ve never eaten any variety of Goldfish without chugging a bottle of H2O due to excessive salt dehydration. These are certainly no different. Salt city.

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Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs are probably the worst Goldfish product I’ve ever had. Not to go all superficial on you guys, but they aren’t even as cute as regular goldfish. They’re fatter and more squished in appearance. There’s a certain sadness hidden behind each of those smiles. Although to be fair to Twisted Grilled Cheese, the original Cheddar sets an unrealistic standard for Goldfish alike. Real Goldfish have curves.

So, in conclusion, are these better than most puffed cheese snacks? No. Are they better than regular cheddar Goldfish crackers? Not even close.

There are so many cheesy alternatives in the supermarket, there’s almost no reason to buy these unless you are a Goldfish completist. Still, I can’t give them a super low score because of their inherent eatability – which I’m being told is not a word. Tomato, tuh-ma-toe.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.1 oz – 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Light and crisp. Addicting. Snack smiles back. Catchy advertising jingles of yore.
Cons: Bland. Salty. Mouth roof rippers. False grilled cheese advertising. Weakest twist since M. Night’s most recent flick.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish

Look, I know.

I know I shouldn’t have tried to pogo through Times Square. Or put the Tootsie Roll in the Easy Bake Oven. Or tried to build a tent in gale force winds in the middle of the Mexico desert. I do ridiculous things sometimes because I’m curious if they can be done. Somebody should stop me.

But nobody did. Not when I was walking to the grocery. Not at the back of aisle 3. Not the guy hacking up sirloin at the meat counter. So, unhindered by human or meat cleaver, I dive in to Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers, one-by-one.

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Starting simple, the cheddar is familiar and orange as the hunk of cheese from whence it came. It’s wonderful in that nutty, salty, and savory way. It’s perhaps a bit too safe, but it’s also nice to be reminded that there’s a reason these have been bobbing about since 1962.

I’m surprised and disappointed to find the ketchup tastes much similar to the cheddar cracker, but with a very, very, very, very minuscule hint of canned tomato paste. Some may say the tomato isn’t there at all, but, if you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can taste a tomato-y afterthought at the end. Those looking for the sweet tang of ketchup shall be sad in this tomato effort, but the sprinklies of salt coating each fish help things along. It’s not a bad fishy, but not noticeably different enough from the cheddar to declare its taste as unique.

Now, on to the most curious beast: the burger cracker.

No skipping around the tulips: it’s pretty good. No hints of metal, artificial smoke, or burnt-charcoal. There’s a salty, savory, roasted-portabella edge with a hint of caramelized onion bits found at the bottom of the pan. Sure, it may not be the medium-rare hunk of cow I look for, but it holds its own, and, in that capacity, it goes excellently with the cheddar. The two eaten together may encourage you to shovel up every last crumb of the bag as if you were raised by wolves. Do not be ashamed of being raised by wolves: scoop those crackers down, you wolf-human.

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Maybe it’s the smell of charcoal in the air, but I think I like these. I really do. They’re not spectacular, even a little too safe, but they’re also not putrid.

They’re savory, nutty, cheesy and easy to chomp. It would be exciting to see Pepperidge Farm go further with the idea of the burger: give me some jalapeño, Colby, and mustard-coated Goldfish. Bacon and bleu. Give me all the pickle-flavored fishies you can muster. I shall eat them. Eat them all. If I’m going off the deep end, so be it.

But maybe you will join me? Here? In the deep end? It’s nice. And way fun. And has lots of crackers.

(Nutrition Facts – 56 pieces – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6.3 oz. bag
Purchased at: Morton Williams
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nutty. Savory. Burger cracker not gross. Cheddar remains unchanged. Brown bits of caramelized onions. Salt sprinklies. Benefits of being raised by wolves. Pogo sticks.
Cons: Ketchup tastes like cheddar. Absence of tang. Can’t order medium rare. No pickles? Trying to set up a tent in gale force winds.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies

During June and July of last year, Pepperidge Farm allowed Milano fans to vote for a future flavor. The candidates were mango ginger, green tea, and chocolate chili. As you’ve probably figured out from reading the title of this review, chocolate chili won and it probably did so with promises of chocolate with a spicy kick.

But after tasting it, I’m not sure it should’ve been victorious.

On the back of its package it describes the cookie as, “The perfect contrast of rich luxurious chocolate and spicy chili flavor.”

Yeah…about the “spicy chili flavor.”

If you’re a heat head, let me disappoint you by saying your internal Scoville scale won’t register anything while eating these cookies. Not even eating several of them one after another will build up a satisfying heat. There is a tickle of something that lingers, especially at the back of my throat, but I’m not sure most would consider it spicy.

Looking at the ingredients list helps explain the lack of heat. There’s no mention of any kind of chili pepper. Not even the vague “spices” is listed. But there is the even more vague “natural flavors.”

The cookies smell like chocolate cake with a hint of chili pepper. Each cookie has two thin layers of chocolate. After nibbling the chocolate at the edges, it tastes like both layers have chili pepper flavor, but it’s very faint. It becomes more so when the cookie is eaten whole. The light, crispy cookie dampens the flavor.

Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies Closeup

I’m torn about these cookies.

Even with a hint of chili pepper flavor, these cookies still gave me some delight. They had a spicy cinnamon or Mexican hot chocolate vibe to them. And, they’re frickin’ Milano cookies, for goodness sake!

But, I can’t help but be disappointed with them. Seeing the words “chili” on the front and “spicy” on the back gave me expectations of the cookie reaching a level of heat that gave them a pleasant warmth.

Or, perhaps, I have it wrong about its spiciness.

The Milano is a classy cookie with a European name that’s presented in white paper baking cups. Having a cookie with an almost uncomfortable amount of heat is something the crazy food scientists at Nabisco would probably do with an Oreo cookie.

If the Milano is a reserved white ballgown and the Oreo is a sexy tight black mini dress that’s up for anything, then perhaps a Milano that burns one’s mouth would be unsophisticated.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Limited Edition Chocolate Chili Milano Cookies
Purchased Price:
Size: 7 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: They had a faint spicy cinnamon or Mexican hot chocolate vibe to them. They’re frickin’ Milano cookies! No worries for those who are afraid of burning their mouths.
Cons: A bit disappointed they aren’t spicy spicy. Chili pepper flavor could’ve been stronger. Target exclusive.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

The Milano cookie has always been something of an enigma for me. With its elegant yet simple design and name conjuring images of the Italian Alps, it was beyond my childhood capacity of appreciation. Later in life, after I had graduated from a packaged cookie diet consisting entirely of Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Milanos still perplexed me. A dense yet slightly chewy crumb and buttery but dark chocolate flavor pointed toward a cookie on its own plane, distinct and unabashedly unique from every other prepackaged treat.

Oh yes, and terribly delicious.

It goes without saying that we expect much from Milano cookies. When you nail the chocolate flavor better than 95 percent of the competitors, I think expectations are a given. Nevertheless I couldn’t help but wonder if that sophisticated edge would translate with the addition of pumpkin spice. It’s one thing to pair mint and raspberry with chocolate, but when you start playing matchmaker with chocolate and the sometimes ambiguous concoction of fall spices, the results aren’t always so endearing.

Examining the bag confirmed my initial skepticism, as there’s no mention of pumpkin or the usual suspects of cinnamon or brown sugar in the ingredients. Nevertheless the orange lip representing pumpkin appeared on each cookie, while an unmistakably pumpkiny aroma danced from the open bag in perfect step with aromas of shortbread and chocolate.

It’s really a scintillating aroma, one with notes of pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin loaf cake supporting the dance. Actually, it’s so great I nearly passed out of asphyxiation due to a prolonged moment of sticking my schnoz right into the bag and failing to breath anything but the glorious smell of autumn.

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The orange “cream”—for want of a better word—is thin and slightly viscous, with a texture somewhere between cream cheese on a hot day and the filling they stick inside those stacked wafer cookies. Tasting it from the lip of the cookie, it comes across as a less intense version of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, right on down to a slightly artificial flavor that seems a bit too quiet for fall’s most iconic squash.

Artificial flavor aside, there’s a pleasantly light sweetness and lickable texture that leaves me wanting more. The problem is there really isn’t much more to be had. Even though the chocolate-to-pumpkin filling ratio is about 1:1, the pumpkin finishes a distant third in its impact. The filling and the spice together are enough to let you know we’re talking pumpkin and not just cinnamon-flavored cookies, but the milk chocolate filling and scrumptious cookie base seem unwilling to let the pumpkin intrude on their synergy.

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It’s been my experience through a quarter century of pumpkin eating that pumpkin is a very jealous flavor. It just doesn’t like playing second fiddle, much less third string. Yet in the distinct and careful balance of buttery cookie crumb and rich chocolate taste the pumpkin seems an awkward third wheel, attractive enough to want on its own, but not enough for either of the other two elements of the cookie to commit to.

It’s as if the cookie and the chocolate know what they have together, and while tempted by the pumpkin’s autumnal notes, neither flavor wants to commit to the newcomer over its tried and true other half. My God, it now occurs to me as I polish off another cookie, I have just described a twisted escapade of cookie love.

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The sophisticated chocolate taste and buttery crumb native to all Milanos make the Pumpkin Spice Milano flavor unique and tasty. Yet for such a trendsetting cookie the pumpkin spice flavor doesn’t come through enough to make it a distinctively pumpkin product, while the hints of an attractive and creamy texture mitigate it to an awkward role player. As for that role, it’s just not cast right, and despite a promising beginning and intoxicating aroma, the Pumpkin Spice Milanos failed to make me fall in love with their take on the seasonal flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Quite possibly one of the most enjoyable smelling cookies in creation. Buttery Milano cookie. Rich milk chocolate flavor. Pumpkin flavored “cream” is slightly reminiscent of pumpkin cream cheese. That feeling you get when you buy Milanos.
Cons: Too little pumpkin filling. Slightly artificial pumpkin spice “cream.” Third wheel flavors. Death by cookie bag. Nineteenth century packaging of Milano cookies.