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?

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar

“Ganache” is such a French word. It’s so French that if you say it into a mirror three times, French Candyman appears. Instead of a hook hand he has half a baguette on his stump and he doesn’t murder you, he gives you cigarettes made of young cheese. Then you have to watch an entire Jerry Lewis movie and make small talk with his mistress while he looks for your bidet. And then you have to drive him to the airport to get back to France. It’s kind of a hassle, honestly.

The Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar tries to French gourmet up the grocery proceedings but also keeps it real down home by featuring USA’s favorite swine meats. It says what’s in it right there on the packaging: “A rich combination of dark chocolate ganache, pieces of uncured bacon, and a hint of smoked salt.”

Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar 4

The ganache is tucked inside the bar in tiny pockets, along with the pieces of pig. The particular bar I had was very fragile and almost immediately featured a diagonal crack that allowed the insides to leak out and made it look like it was bleeding chocolate blood.

Fun fact: In old black and white films, Dracula would use chocolate syrup in place of blood. Another fun fact: In the commercials, Count Chocula drinks human blood in place of milk in his cereal.

The bar boasts a 70 percent cacao rating thing, and, yes, it’s bitter. It has a smooth cacao flavor which crescendos into an acrid bite when the pools of ganache touch the tongue. There’s maybe a facsimile of smokiness—which actually comes off as a bit sour—but the tenor changes with a subtle touch of saltiness. It’s a complex hit that might even include the sixth taste, umami, or the seventh taste, your mommy.

Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar 2

The experience is a bit tough to describe because while it’s a combination of all these interesting things, I also found it not that pleasant. I imagine it is a little bit like what Coca-Cola tasted like when it was being sold as a cure-all tonic. There’s not much sweetness involved and it tastes a little bit like medicine.

Ironic, isn’t it, that this product has “uncured” bacon in it, because medicine “cures” diseases and this tastes like medicine and “uncured” is the opposite of “cured.” Haha. Good one, dude. Good one. … *cricket sounds for ten seconds* … “It’s like raaaaaaaain on your wedding day/ It’s the freeee riiiiiide….”

Where is the bacon? It’s in little torn up pieces in a sea of chocolate ganache, represented by the hints of salt. Catching them in my mouth here and there, texture-wise they sort of felt like balled up pieces of wet tissue paper rolled between my fingers to make wispy strands. Without it billboarded on the front, I would never have guessed bacon was involved in this product.

The chocolate is really a stronger flavor here and overpowers just about all the bacon qualities. It’s a fine, bold dark chocolate taste, but with the bar and the insides being all chocolate, all day it’s a bit overwhelming. Maybe if I say “ganache” three times backwards into a mirror it will dial back the intensity? “Ehcanag, ehcanag, ehcanag.” Nope, that just summoned Opposite French Candyman. He’s exactly the same as French Candyman but his skin is inside out and rides a bicycle backwards. Pretty cool.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 bar – 220 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 10 grams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Ganache Bar
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 3 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Dark chocolate central. If you need that fix, it has it. Complex flavors.
Cons: Not very sweet at all. Bacon gets lost a bit, tastes like medicine.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Milky Way Marshmallow with Caramel

Limited Edition Milky Way Marshmallow with Caramel

You know that old friend you have? The one you only talk to when they’re visiting town? The two of you pick up right where you left off, but you both know that as soon as you part ways, you won’t be speaking again for another year or two? That’s how I’d describe my relationship with Milky Way.

Our interactions are generally limited to the Halloween season, when they’re included in those giant bags of fun size mixed treats. And even then, it’s usually a week into November before I finally get around to eating them (long after the Reese’s, Twix, and Baby Ruth have been exhausted).

And I don’t even dislike Milky Way! I just sorta group them in with Mr. Goodbar, or Krackel, or any other inoffensive, middle-of-the-road candy bar. Strange since Milky Way is such a close cousin to the widely beloved Snickers, but there’s no disputing that peanuts and nougat are radically different ingredients; swap one out for the other and you’ve created an entirely new piece of candy.

By the same token, when I first read about a new Milky Way that traded in regular nougat for a marshmallow-y nougat filling, I was intrigued. It sounded like a brilliant way of taking a longstanding favorite and infusing it with fluffy, summery goodness. Lucky for me, and despite its proclaimed “limited edition” status, I found the bar easily, just around the corner at my local convenience store.

Limited Edition Milky Way Marshmallow with Caramel 2

As I unwrapped it and split it open to check out its contents, I was shocked. It looked exactly like – if not better than – the illustration on the wrapper! When does that EVER happen?

How many times have we as junk food enthusiasts been duped by package art into buying burgers that turned out flimsy and pathetic? Microwave dinners that congealed into greasy, mealy porridge? Ice pops that looked like terrifying, disfigured, goblin versions of the cartoon characters they were meant to represent? This was a strong start for Milky Way.

Biting in, the texture is different from that of the standard edition, but certainly not worse. The marshmallow nougat is significantly smoother and less chewy than its original counterpart, which makes this bar a nice option for chocolate lovers who try to avoid stickier foods.

But the taste is the most important part, and it leaves little room for complaint. This set of flavors complement each other well. The ratios are sound, and everything is properly layered with no single component overwhelming another. If forced to be nitpicky I would say that, considering its top billing, the marshmallow flavor is a bit light and takes a while to develop, but that’s about it. Overall, this is a well constructed piece of candy.

While nothing can replace the original, this variation serves as a nifty take on the classic bar. Similar to those tasty Caramel Apple squares Milky Way puts out every autumn, I could easily see myself snacking on miniatures of these throughout the summer.

M.W., perhaps I was wrong about you – I think I might be ready to take this relationship to the next level.

(Nutrition Facts – 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Milky Way Marshmallow with Caramel
Purchased Price: $1.25
Size: 1.72 oz.
Purchased at: Krauszer’s Food & Liquor
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable variation on a classic candy. Pleasant flavor profile. Bar looks exactly as pictured!
Cons: Marshmallow flavor is a bit light. Might be better in fun size. Adequate item which makes it difficult to think of a humorous third complaint?