QUICK REVIEW: Hershey’s Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates

Hershey's Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates

The apple-flavored caramel oozing into my mouth once I broke it from its chocolatey womb was the only real satisfaction I got out of these new Hershey’s Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates. The feeling took me back to the days when I ate Fruit Gushers or chewed bubble gum with a liquid center.

But once that caramel filling hit my taste buds, those pleasant memories turned into perplexing musings. There’s something off about the caramel. Maybe it’s the ingredient that’s trying to emulate the tartness of an apple. Maybe my taste buds are revolting because it expected pumpkin spice this time of year. I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that I opened this package a week ago and it’s still five-sixths full. Wait. Lemme go pessimistic because this is a negative review. It’s only one-sixth empty. I don’t even know if I want to give these away to trick-or-treaters for fear of retribution.

Look, I think the flavor is a bit off, but I can see others enjoying these chocolates. Maybe the trick-or-treaters will like them. It does have a flavor that most would instantly recognize as caramel apple. The exterior is the Hershey’s milk chocolate you know and love and have to suck off your fingers if you hold them for too long on a day that 75 degrees or warmer. And they do come in fun apple shapes. But, I don’t think the caramel works.

Hershey's Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates 2

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 10 oz bag
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 pieces) 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Cookie ‘n’ Mint Bar

Hershey's Cookie 'n' Mint Bar

As I kid I wanted nothing more than to go to Disney World. My parents had other plans and made me wait. Every time I asked about it, they said things like “patience is a virtue,” “you won’t appreciate it as much until you’re older,” and “get out of our house already, freeloader.”

While they eventually gave in to my incessant whining, said parents dragged my brother and me to Hershey Park twice in the meantime. For that, I always used to think of it as a second-tier vacation spot.

Now, I’m older, wiser, nostalgic, and I have to say, Hershey Park is bar none the best theme park named after a candy I have ever been to!

Hershey, Pennsylvania smelled like chocolate! They had rides that stacked up with other theme parks. There was a mascot dressed like a pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! I mean, you’re cool Mickey, but you’re no peanut butter cup.

Hershey Park was as close as I’d ever get to touring Willy Wonka’s factory.

Out of all those memories, there was one thing that somehow always stood out – the free chocolate bar at the end of the tour. It was the freshest, most perfect Hershey’s bar imaginable and for that I’ve always had a soft spot for Hershey’s.

I could already predict what I was in for with the Hershey’s Cookie ‘n’ Mint Bar. It smelled just like an Andes after dinner mint, or Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie. (Aka “Grasshoppers,” if you’re a heartless heathens who refuses to help out the Girl Scouts.) Chocolate and mint may not be your favorite flavor combination, but you can’t deny the smell is fantastic. Go ahead and deny it. I dare you.

Hershey's Cookie 'n' Mint Bar 2

The candy bar tastes like a Thin Mint with less cookie. I think I prefer the ratio here. They could have just called this a “Thinner Mint” bar. The chocolate is the star of the show, instead of it being just a light coating on a cookie. The texture is exactly the same as Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Cream bars.

The chocolate taste is distinctly Hershey’s. Hershey is the only chocolate I can pinpoint blindfolded. Actually, I could probably nail Cadbury too, but beyond that? I’m not so sure.

Here’s the kicker — the Cookies ‘N’ Mint bar is not standard Hershey’s milk chocolate, but rather mint milk chocolate. I assumed the mint would be in the cookie bits, but those are apparently just chocolate flavored. The base Hershey’s chocolate itself is where the mint is.

With that said, I couldn’t really tell. I would have believed there were mint chocolate cookie pieces in regular Hershey’s chocolate if the wrapper didn’t specify.

Hershey's Cookie 'n' Mint Bar 3

So all in all, this was a success. I’d easily put this on par with Hershey’s Cookie ‘N’ Cream bars. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Cookies ‘N’ Mint become a candy stand mainstay. Other than Junior Mints and York Peppermint Patties, there aren’t that many chocolate/mint staples available in your corner store.

I also don’t see why mini versions of Cookies ‘N’ Mint can’t sneak into Hershey’s mixed bags with the Krackel’s, Mr. Goodbar’s, and Hershey’s Dark’s of the world.

I realize it’s a lot to ask of that big shot Mr. Goodbar to put his ego aside and share a bag with an additional flavor, but it’s time for him to accept the times.

It appears Cookie ‘N’ Mint are going to be taking up permanent residence on candy racks nationwide, so no need to book that trip to Hershey Park to try one.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 78 cents
Size: 1.55 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Balanced flavors. Great texture. Pleasant aroma. Walking Reese’s Cups. Hershey Park’s Hershey handouts. Lessons in patience. Helping the Girl Scouts.
Cons: Couldn’t really tell it was mint chocolate. That egomaniac Mr. Goodbar. Whiny kids. Dissing the Girl Scouts.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Crème Filled Mini Éclairs

Hershey's Cre?me Filled Mini E?clairs

An éclair looks like a chocolate bar donut and sounds like some kind of frou frou French gizmo. I can practically hear my high school French teacher scolding: “Don’t you dare forget that accent aigu above the eh (how “e” is pronounced in French)!” But, if you’ve tried to make éclairs, you’ll quickly realize that this classic French pastry deserves to be embellished with that dang accent because of how complicated it is to make.

So what business does Hershey’s have with éclairs? Hershey’s Crème Filled Mini Éclairs of course! Yep, sounds odd to me too. But I taste-tested these with an open mind. After trying these babies, Hershey’s can make all the frozen ready-to-eat desserts they want!

Instead of instant gratification, I had to thaw the mini éclairs for two hours in the fridge or 30 minutes at room temperature. I jokingly complain, but I’ll take a 30-minute thaw time over four-hour éclairs-from-scratch time any day. Unfortunately, my first red flag was that there was freezer burn; little ice crystals were hugging each of the mini éclairs. But, there’s no way to tell if the freezer burn was user error. So, I’ll give Hershey’s the benefit of the doubt – maybe I didn’t get the box into the freezer quickly enough from Walmart. The packaging does warn not to refreeze!

Hershey's Cre?me Filled Mini E?clairs 2

Either way, because of the freezer burn, the mini éclairs didn’t look great thawed. The ice crystals melted down and made the chocolate look like it was balmy with sweat. Yum, sweaty chocolate. Surprisingly, the overall structural integrity of the oblong choux pastry remained intact. I expected the pastry itself to collapse after the freezer burn thawed out.

Hershey's Cre?me Filled Mini E?clairs 3

I got through each mini éclair in three swift bites. The crème inside was very luscious and did not have an oily mouthfeel. Paired with the Hershey’s chocolate glaze, it was like I was eating creamy, milk chocolate goodness. The combination was also not sickeningly sweet; I’m not a fan of desserts that are cloyingly sweet. The glaze reminded me of the outside of a Dairy Queen Dipped Cone. And, like a dipped cone, the chocolate wrapped each choux pastry perfectly and the ratio was perfect – just enough for the amount of pastry.

The chocolate glaze was the choux pastry’s saving grace because the pastry itself wasn’t great. Could I tell the éclair had been frozen? If I didn’t personally thaw them, I might not have been able to. But, there was something about the pastry texture that clearly wasn’t fresh. It’s like fresh bagels vs. the day-old bagel pile – it tastes about the same but it’s missing that fresh dough elasticity and spring.

I could totally see myself bringing Hershey’s Crème Filled Mini Éclairs for a potluck and shamelessly taking credit for making them. But, Hershey’s must think we’re all ants because these mini éclairs are teeny-tiny! This is ‘MURRICAA!! However, Hershey’s is staying true to the essence of an éclair with this mini innovation. After all, éclairs were named after lightning because people eat ‘em (especially me) lightning quick!

(Nutrition Facts – 5 éclairs – 270 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 15 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.52
Size: 10.58 oz box/about 20 pieces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: 30-minute thaw time over four-hour éclairs-from-scratch time. Luscious crème. Creamy, milk chocolate goodness like a Dairy Queen Dipped Cone.
Cons: Freezer burn. Sweaty chocolate. Choux pastry = day old bagel pile. Éclairs for ants.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Carrot Cake Kisses

Hershey's Carrot Cake Kisses

Carrot Cake is always a cause for celebration.

History proves it: when the Red Coats turn and ran from the Lower East Side in 1783, George Washington celebrated with a big old slice of carrot tea cake. Why? Because nothing says BOOM, ‘MURICA like sneaking vegetables into dessert. It is just our way. You can call it the best of both worlds, or having your cake and eating it too, or just a pretext to improve your night vision while not giving up the sensual pleasure of cake.

But whatever you call it, call it what it is: America’s most beloved combination of vegetables and cream cheese this side of pumpkin spice season.

Carrot Cake is also the newest seasonal Hershey’s Kisses. Non-chocolate Kisses (which are not to be confused with French kisses, which are equally as delightful as Hershey’s Kisses) are a rarity in the candy world, and in my experience, a mixed bag. Sometimes good, sometimes meh, you never know what to make of the seasonally-themed flavors until you try them. This of course is possible thanks to the miracle of capitalism, and the tireless efforts of the overnight employees stocking the Walmart candy shelves the day after the last holiday ended.

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I have a theory about carrot cake: aside from being an “Easter” flavor, its appeal derives from the fact that it has a little something of everyone’s other favorite cakes and flavors.

But if your idea of carrot cake is the kind of cake you eat when you really just want fruitcake, then these Kisses are not from you. There are no raisins, pineapple, or nuts of any kind in the filling, and as far as I know, they don’t have any booze in them.

Hershey's Carrot Cake Kisses 4

Likewise, if carrot cake is the kind is cake you turn to for the moist, super-carroty experience, then these Kisses don’t quite do the job, because the carrot flavor isn’t very distinct. And, finally, if carrot cake is what you’re looking for when you really just want an excuse to lick cream cheese frosting, the white center of each Kiss — which tastes like a combination of fondant and buttercream and a little bit of sour cream — leaves much to be desired.

Who are these Kisses for? They’re for people who like super sweet carrot cake with a little, but not a lot of, tang; those who enjoy the saccharine smell of fondant; people who are looking for a less assertive flavor still reminiscent of pumpkin spice during the spring; and, finally, folks who enjoy sucking on candy whose shape recalls infant memories of breastfeeding.

In all honesty the Kisses aren’t bad. While they are hyper-sweet, there’s a milky appeal to the orange layer, with an artificial spice flavor that lingers. It’s not a bad flavor though. A slightly tangy finish with the fondant and buttercream-like center leaves the tongue with the impression that you’ve eaten more than just sugar and vegetable oil.

Hershey's Carrot Cake Kisses 3

It’s not a moist and decadent carrot cake, but it’s a respectable, albeit too sweet and artificial, celebration of familiar spices and buttercream flavors in the convenient nipple-looking package of a Hershey’s Kiss. And at just under 25 calories a Kiss, it’s a bit easier on the waistline than a carrot cake. The Kisses might not be kicking the British out of Manhattan in the Revolutionary War, but my celebration standards are not quite so lofty, so I’ll go ahead and have another.

(Nutrition Facts – 9 Kisses – 220 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable melt-in-your mouth Kisses quality. Sweet warming spices. Pretty good combination of buttercream, white-chocolate, and fondant frosting. The American way.
Cons: Lacks really deep carrot cake flavor. Cream cheese tang and richness is missing. Cloying. Doesn’t contain any of the usual carrot cake mix-ins. Awesome source of saturated fat and Yellow Lake #5.

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.