REVIEW: Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate

Whenever I drink hot chocolate and look down into my mug, I think about dirty storm water. And when I see the brown water in flooded streams and rivers, I think about hot chocolate. It’s a shame they look similar.

Of course, Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate doesn’t taste like dirty and/or sewage-y like I imagine storm water does, but it also doesn’t taste like hot chocolate.

But then again, my experience with hot cocoa involves dumping a packet of Swiss Miss powdered hot cocoa mix into a mug, pouring hot water into said mug, stirring it until it looks like storm drain water, taking a sip, burning my mouth, waiting a few minutes to let it cool, taking another sip, and then thinking why I made all this effort to make chocolate flavored water. (I know I could use milk, but it would ruin the transition to the next paragraph. But then again, this aside probably ruined the transition.)

But these M&M’s don’t taste like chocolate flavored water. They taste better.

Each bag comes with three colors of candies: black, white, and off-white. I guess the black represents chocolate, white represents milk, and off-white represents marshmallows, even though marshmallows are as white as milk.

Cutting them in half reveals…ACK!

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate 3

They’re like chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes looking at me! Those eyes are following me around! I promise to do your bidding, chocolate cat eyes! Just stop staring at me!

The iris of the chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes appears to be the dark chocolate and the pupil looks like milk chocolate. I could be wrong, but I’m too scared to look directly at them again.

When popping the candy into my mouth, the first thing I notice is a coconut flavor, which is strange, but it’s fleeting. Once I took a bite into them, that coconut was replaced by the chocolate and an artificial marshmallow flavor. Yeah, I know artificial marshmallow flavor sounds bad, but it’s surprisingly tasty in this candy and I’d take it over Swiss Miss mixed with water any day. But I could see others not enjoying the artificial flavor.

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate 2

I’m not sure if the marshmallow flavoring comes from the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, both, or if the chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes have hypnotized me into thinking there’s marshmallow, but the tiny dots in the milk chocolate make me think it’s coming from it. The overall chocolate flavor leans slightly towards the dark, but I think the combination of the two chocolates, plus the artificial marshmallow flavor, does create a flavor that can be recognized as hot cocoa. I’m not talking chocolate flavored water hot cocoa, I’m talking chocolate flavored milk hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows.

As a whole, these Hot Chocolate M&M’s are wonderful. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in flavor between the three colors, but who cares because they’re awesome. But, damn, why did the bag have to be smaller than previous M&M’s flavors. It’s almost 20 percent smaller and around the same price as previous flavors. That makes me want to throw a hot cup of Swiss Miss at the person who decided to sell it in a smaller bag.

So if you’ve got on your ugly holiday sweater and want some hot chocolate, don’t settle for some storm runoff-looking Swiss Miss. Instead, pick up a bag of these Hot Chocolate M&M’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz. – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 2% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate
Purchased Price: $2.88
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Better tasting than chocolate flavored hot water. Artificial marshmallow flavor is surprisingly nice.
Cons: 20 percent smaller bag than other flavors. When split in half the candy center looks like evil eyes. Artificial marshmallow flavoring might not appeal to some.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe

Does anyone remember Roller Riders? The early 90s As-Seen-On-TV “Scootboard” product with the catchy jingle (“It’s a scootboard!/That’s what it is!/Steers like a racecar/Glides like a skateboard/Roller rider: It’s a scootboard!”)

The thing looked something like this, but was targeted toward teens and tweens. Anybody? Anybody??

Because, presuming YouTube videos encompass all public knowledge, Roller Rider never existed. Indeed, there’s no visual archive, Vimeo documentary, botched soundtrack, or VCR-spliced upload that visually confirms it was a consumer product. Yet there’s a small handful of people who deeply miss it. Who long to scoot, race, and sing the song in the break room at our day job. We may be small, but our love for the product? Is significant.

Hardcore fans of Hershey Kisses are similar. We’re small time, but our devotion is huge. We seek the simple life, although there was that one incident where we had to get a root canal after we ate an entire bag of them at Timothy McDonald’s birthday after he busted open an entire piñata of them in 3rd grade. But other than that, totally simple. I am one such fan. Perhaps you are, too. We are the proud. The few. And we will not whither and die.

Knowing this base of steadfast devotees, Hershey generated a brand new Deluxe Kiss to fancy it up a bit. Filled with ganache, crispities, and a full hazelnut, it strays just enough from the original to be different, and yet remains simple enough to appeal to its pre-existing fans. Its profile sounds much like a Rocher truffle without the fancy name, thus making it both potentially delicious and a solid contender for the stocking-stuffing holidays ahead. But the question is: would Santa approve?

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe 2

Right out of the wrapper, things get off to a swift start with the unwrapped dots looking shiny as a Porsche dried with microfiber terry cloths. The little bell-like chocolate cones smell of nutty fudge and are about 2-3 times as big as the average Kiss, making them certified monsters. Delicious certified monsters.

Indeed, the experience only gets better once you bite in. On the front end, you get a shell covering a more creamy, ganache-like center that tastes distinctly of Hershey chocolate: a little chocolate frosting, a little vanilla, and that special twang of Whatever The Hell’s In There. There’s a whole, if somewhat diminutive, roasted hazelnut tucked in the middle, which adds a solid, nutty crunch to the creamy-crispy experience. Consuming said Kiss can be accomplished in two or three nibbles or one full, melty bite. I support the latter, always opting for the “Go big or miss out” philosophy.

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe 3

I have ridden in a Mercedes once in my life. The seats had air conditioning and sorta hugged you as you turn. It was cool, but I don’t see myself wanting to do it everyday. These Kisses are similar: they’re fun once in a while, but I could see them getting a little too frou-frou for everyday, especially with the high price point ($1.19 for 3 kisses).

But, perhaps money isn’t what’s important. Perhaps what’s important is that the Kiss, at its core, is still delicious. The addition of crispies and hazelnuts only highlight that fact. While I may not be able to afford them all the time, in my dreams, I will eat a bag of them while driving a Roller Rider into the sunset. Note to Santa: that would be a stunning Christmas gift.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 Kisses – 130 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe
Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: 3 Kisses
Purchased at: Rite Aid
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate frosting. Crispy texture. Ganache-like center. Crunchy roasted hazelnut. Eating a bag of Kisses out of a piñata. Roller Riders.
Cons: Pricey. Crispities add only poofy, texturized air. All those questionable ingredients. Where have all the Roller Riders gone? Mercedes seats that hug you are mildly creepy.

REVIEW: Pecan Pie Milk Chocolate M&M’s

Pecan Pie Milk Chocolate M&M's

So let’s talk about realistic images of ourselves.

Mine? Blurry.

For example: I always wanted to be a Girl Scout but hated going to the gatherings. As a consequence, I never learned how to tie/untie a cable knot, so, if, say, I wanted to become the next David Copperfield, was tied to a chair via cable knots, and plunged in the sea, I would promptly be consumed by sharks. All because I never attended my Girl Scout Meetings.

Similarly, M&M’s identity has become blurry as they, with both success and failure, attempt to stake claim on myriad confectionary treats, ranging from Candy Corn to Red Velvet to Birthday Cake, and, if one can make a morselized version of a fluffy, frosting-slathered baked good, why not give a shot at the illustrious goo of Thanksgiving’s iconic slab of caramelized sugar?

Pecan Pie M&M’s, here I come.

Pecan Pie Milk Chocolate M&M's 2

Out of the bag, nothing looks nefarious. We’ve got some charmingly lumpy M-stamped morsels that smell of sugar and vanilla and a curious bitter twinge…is it caramel? Perhaps burnt high fructose corn syrup? No matter as the yellow, brown, and white colors make a pleasant little arrangement, but, in terms of flavor, color is but an empty promise, silent as the sound of a mime directing traffic.

Biting in gives way to a crunchy shell and melty chocolate and…oh dear. Where are the pecans? The caramelized sugar goo? Perhaps there is crust filling that was somehow innovatively injected inside??


Not a pecan in sight. In fact, they feel and taste just like a Milk Chocolate M&M. A Milk Chocolate M&M that was combined with a cheap-o-matic caramel flavor and…is that low-grade bourbon? I can’t tell, but perhaps it’s because I’m having a mild panic attack: why, M&M’s, why have you betrayed me? Why does your delicious chocolate now taste of sugar and mildly burnt wood? What have I done that has resulted in this karmic-induce vengeance on my taste buds??***

**Unfortunately, during my inquiry, the M’s remained inorganic and, unable to respond, left me to conclude that, while sugary and melty, these are not about to change their flavor to mimic the Pecan Pie I desired.

Pecan Pie Milk Chocolate M&M's 3

If I were to tell my mother I’ve given up chocolate, I’m liable to get the same reaction as if I’d told her I was devoting the rest of my life to engineering an industrial tanning lotion for yetis. The kind of thing that elicits that Special Mom Smile that says I love you, but why do that to yourself?

And yet these M&M’s are encouraging me otherwise. They’re hyper sweet, bitter in aftertaste, and lack the qualities I look for in pecan pie (caramelized sugar, pecans, etc.). What emulsion of natural flavoring has shaken the identity of the cacao bean so that it tastes so obscure? How, dear confectionary world, did Pecan Pie become this? Where is the goo? The crust? The pecans?

I do not have these answers.

But I do have hope. Hope M&M’s will set this aside, tossing it up as R&D learning experience as they quietly retire these for better horizons. Till next time, dear M’s, I’ll be over here, waiting hopefully and shoveling my pecan pie by the spoonful.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/4 cup – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 gram of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Pecan Pie Milk Chocolate M&M’s
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9.9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy shell. Melting chocolate. Milk chocolate is involved. Tanning lotion for yetis. Mimes directing traffic.
Cons: Where are the pecans? Where is the caramel? Why is the green M&M standing beside a hay bale on the cover? Unanswered inquiries. I will never be the next Houdini.

REVIEW: Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M’s

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M's

As I write this review from a prominently visible window seat at my obscure local coffee shop, I heave an exaggerated sigh and wipe my thick-framed, non-prescription glasses so that passerby will notice the towering pages of the novel manuscript that sit next to my vintage typewriter—which I hauled all the way here from my fixed gear bicycle because modern day computers simply can’t compete with the satisfying *clack* of old keys.

My novel is called (M)issed Connection, and I wrote it to impress that cute girl sipping the Pumpkin Spice Latte across the room. What’s that, you say? “That girl” is just the Brown M&M mascot on a bag of Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s?

Hey, maybe “anthropomorphized, chocolate-filled oblate candy spheroid” is my type. Or maybe I just want to eat her limited edition M&M’s.

That’s right, Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Latte M&M’s are Mars’ attempt to give a rejuvenating jolt to last year’s lackluster Pumpkin Spice M&M’s. As a coffee snob, I’m hoping there’s a whole “latte” improvement between the two with the drink’s name tacked on. But will it “mocha” difference? Now that I’ve filled my bad coffee pun quota, let’s find out.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M's 2

These M&M’s are beefier than their normal counterparts, edging close to “a dime on Viagra” sized. The scent wafting from the bag reminds me of my “Pumpkin Splendor” scented candle that I’ve considered eating more times than I’d like to admit. This is a good sign.

I pop one into my mouth, chew, and then immediately shovel a whole handful into my gaping maw. Regardless of your religion’s stance on the existence of the Great Pumpkin, you’d better believe that these suckers are real -— real tasty, that is.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M's 3

Coming as a delightful surprise, they taste exactly like a pumpkin spice latte in solid, shelled form. But what that means is that, like a real PSL, the coffee flavor in these M&M’s is smothered by cream and sugar.

If you’re expecting the strong, earthy, bitterness of espresso, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, the coffee taste of the chocolate here is a sweet, lightly nutty java experience with faint caramel notes. Accompanied by a tinge of cocoa and a heaping helping of milk chocolate’s dairy creaminess, it’s akin to one of those bottled Starbucks Chocolate Mocha Frappuccinos.

Unlike the burning aftertaste of last year’s M&M’s, the smooth pumpkin flavor here is seamlessly blended with the chocolate and hits fast. In terms of pumpkin spice’s “Big 5,” these M&M’s are heavy on the ginger and sweet cinnamon, light on the nutmeg, and nearly imperceptible in terms of cloves and allspice. This means the M&M’s lack any of the pungent, sinus-clearing spice action you’d get from opening your spice cabinet and huffing the jar of cloves (the things I do for this blog…sheesh).

Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M's 4

And that’s good, because when people buy a PSL, we don’t really want bitterness, spiciness, or even authentic pumpkin-ness. We want the delicious, sugary equivalent of melted coffee ice cream blended with a hefty squirt of fake pumpkin liquid. And that’s a pretty darn good way to summarize these M&M’s.

Sure, they taste synthetic and have a throat-coating syrupiness. And sure, you’ll probably see some post on “Natural Yoga Mama’s Spirit Cleansing Mommy Blog” about how artificial pumpkin flavorings are co-conspiring with aspartame to overthrow capitalism. But like any PSL, over-the-top fakeness is what makes these great!

So if you’re like me and enjoy “basic” pumpkin spice lattes, you’ll love these M&M’s.

And if you don’t? Well, I think I might have a can of Libby’s Pumpkin you can jam a straw into.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/4 cup – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pumpkin Spice Latte Milk Chocolate M&M’s
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 9.9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Bite-sized pumpkin spice latte facsimiles. Frappuccino chocolate = pure Frappiness. Safely indulging my candle-eating fantasy. Candy mascot fanfiction. Learning what an “oblate spheroid” is.
Cons: Won’t convert PSL haters. Artificialness will disappoint pumpkin farmers. Socially taboo human/candy romance. Huffing cloves for “research purposes.”

REVIEW: Brach’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn

Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn

It’s August and I’m eating candy corn…

I guess I just have to accept the fact that summer is dwindling down. Pretty soon it’ll be “pumpkin spice this,” and “apple cinnamon that,” and everything will say “Harvest” on it for some reason. 

So to get an early jump on fall (or “autumn” for all you fancy pants, snooty types) I decided to pick up a new twist on the Halloween staple — Brach’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn.

Candy corn must be an adult thing, because I hated them as a kid, but have grown to appreciate them.

I think my hatred had something to do with the fact that the worst houses used to give them out on Halloween. I would have gladly taken a bag of chips, pennies, or *ugh* “Smarties” over them. To me, candy corn were the nut-low Halloween handout. I vividly remember an old man giving me a handful of loose candy corn and not even complimenting my insanely detailed Army Soldier costume.

Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn

When I first opened the bag I got an awesome, authentic waft of peanut butter cup. Unfortunately as I went in for a closer, deeper sniff, that smell got considerably worse. If you bought a “peanut butter” scented seasonal candle, I imagine it would smell like these…and clear rooms.

I popped a few and was pleasantly surprised. The bag boasts they are made with “real honey,” and I could taste a hint of it. I guess that’s always a plus. These have the standard candy corn texture — waxy then gritty and chalky.

At first there is a strong peanut flavor, but it’s not necessarily peanut butter. If you had a blindfolded taste test, I don’t think you’d immediately jump to “peanut butter.” You’d know instantly what you were eating, but not which flavor. These are probably better than standard candy corn, but somehow almost taste the same. Halfway through chewing my brain just said “candy corn” and disregarded the flavor since the texture is so unique to candy corn.

Brach's Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn Closeup

That didn’t make much sense to me, so I ate each color individually. You’re dealing with a genius here, ladies and gentlemen.

White tasted like pure sugar. Not much more to say there.

Tan tasted like peanut. If you’ve ever had a piece of taffy that was “peanut” flavored, not “peanut butter,” that is the flavor. This might be a dated reference, but they reminded me of a Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew (which have always been underrated) or a Mary Jane. So these have a throwback molasses-y peanut flavor your grandparents would have loved!

Brown is an artificial chocolate flavor. Ever have a chocolate flavored Italian Ice cup from the grocery store? That was what I instantly thought of. What’s up Luigi’s? I see you.

Ya know those variety bags of candy corn that have the standard parking cones mixed with big orange, brown, and tan pieces shaped like cats, pumpkins, witches, and, I don’t know, probably costumed Minions these days? That’s what these are! They basically took all those flavors and just combined them. So imagine eating a handful of the mixed bag. That’s a peanut butter cup candy corn.

So, if you’re expecting a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the shape of a candy corn, you might be disappointed. If you enjoy candies that were introduced decades before your birth, you’re in business. Either way, if you plan on filling a dish with candy corn this Halloween, give these a shot.

(Nutrition Facts – 19 pieces* – 140 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Brach’s Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Rite Aid
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Strong peanut flavor. Good aftertaste. Real honey. Your Grandparents’ favorite candies getting shoutouts. Luigi’s Italian Ice.
Cons: Not Reese’s. Smell worse up close. Bad Halloween memories. “Autumn.” Smarties. *Would 20 pieces have been too hard to calculate?