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.

Hershey's Carrot Cake Kisses 2

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.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar

If we’re going to continue to be friends, I feel there are a few things you should know about me. One is that I have learned most of my morals from a VHS copy of The Muppet Show and my bearded Uncle Bumsford who told me stories while flinging an ax into a stump in the backyard. Another is that I don’t mind, even downright enjoy, preservative-laden stuff. So long as the preservatives are working in the product’s favor, I see no flim or flaw. Bring me thy Jell-o pudding, thy toaster pastries, thy individually wrapped Little Debbies!

And that’s where these come in.

With enough Vegetable Oil Compounds to create an artistic rendering of the Icelandic glaciers, this new Hershey’s Candy Corn Bar is not one to illicit positive reviews from the authors of the USDA food pyramid, but neither does candy corn. Candy corn celebrates the odd, the waxy, the culinarily questionable ingredients, and if there’s anyone who’s familiar with handling questionable confectionary ingredients, it’s Hershey’s. Sure, sometimes things go awry in the Hershey lab, but I continue to put my Halloween faith in their corporate clutches. Am I foolish? Open-minded? Just outright idiotic? Let’s find out.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar Candy Corn as a sugary little block

There is a distinct sweetness of candy corn that, when mulled with preservatives, creates a hyper-sweet sensation that is appealing to the sugar-inclined individual. It tastes of wax and corn syrup solids, maybe a hint of plastic and, guess what? That’s what these bars are made of: waxy stuff and corn syrup. Sugary and quick to melt, the bars are pleasant in that dairy milk confection way, making them easy to nibble as they get goopy all over your hands in 82-degree weather. It’s terrifying and awesome.

However, unlike candy corn, Hershey’s seems to have skipped the whole “honey” ingredient, which, in some respects, is a good thing. For example, you won’t have to worry about being attacked by a hungry honey bear or a swarm of vengeful bees. On the not-as-positive end, the bars don’t have the strong distinguishing taste that honey provides. In fact, they don’t have any particular taste. No vanilla. No rum. Just sugar.

If I close my eyes and use my imagination, there’s something slightly fruity at the end as if someone spliced Cadbury Egg Crème with dehydrated strawberry nubs, but it’s more about the abundance of sugar and texture: melty, melty, melty. While not a stunner on its own, I imagine all that Melting Sugar Goo would making an excellent fall s’more smashed between two Pumpkin Pop-Tarts and a chocolate marshmallow. As Uncle Bumsford always said: a s’more always solves your “What the hell do I do with all this mediocre candy?” problems.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar interior

These little bars are pretty good. Are they made of lavender honey harvested from a flowery meadow by the Andrena hattorfiana bumblebees? No, but neither is candy corn. To expect otherwise would be unfair. By the abundance of sugar alone, these did a modest job at reimagining the experience of chomping on fistfuls of candy corn. While the dull, vegetable-oiled flavor leaves room for growth, at $3.69, I really can’t grumble too much.

If you’re a fan of corn syrup or drinking Cadbury Crème straight from the shell, you shall enjoy this. It will give you a good dose of sugar and Carnauba Wax, and sometimes that’s all you need to get to the next house for All Hallow’s Eve.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 bars – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9.45 oz bag
Purchased at: Kmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Melty. Perfect for Cadbury Crème lovers. Supports the cause of Trick-or-Treaters. Uncle Bumsford. VHS series of The Muppet Show.
Cons: No defining flavor aside from sugar. Carbauna wax. Grumpy USDA Food Pyramid authors. Vengeful bumblebees.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Rally Bar (2013)

Rally Bar

Having witnessed multiple variations of time travel in movies, I’ve learned that some methods of journeying into the past are more dangerous than others. For example:

  • I might get sucked in a black hole (Star Trek)
  • I might have to become a hyper-intelligent wizard in a near-death situation (Harry Potter)
  • I might have to drive 88 miles per hour on a suburban street (Back to the Future), which would encourage speeding tickets from my local law enforcement

Because I know that Hollywood is fact-checking all its sources, one can only conclude that time travel can be painful, high-maintenance, and/or involve unnecessary trips to traffic court. Nonetheless, I often dream of going back and snagging a taste of some of those rare products that disappeared before my time. Thankfully, Hershey’s is sparing me the toil of arranging time travel transportation by resurrecting their Rally Bar from its 1970s grave and stashing it at Walgreens all over the land.

Taking inspiration from its longstanding confectionary kin, the Rally bar compresses the caramel-peanut combo of a Pay Day with the lumpy, bumpy look of a Baby Ruth, resulting in a chocolate covered, peanut-coated caramel log that may or may not be a geographically correct interpretation of the Austrian Mountains.

Rally Bar The hills are alive! With the sound of music!

“The hills are alive with the sound of music!”

Diving right in, the chocolate is quick to melt, sweet, and fudgy. This is trademark Hershey’s chocolate: the kind that gets gooey on s’mores and calls forth multiple washes of your jeans after it melts in your pocket in 80-degree weather. Its palm-oil-y layer is sugary with a hint of cocoa to remind you it’s chocolate. On its own, the coating hangs off the cliff of getting too sweet. Thankfully, the peanuts and caramel nougat are there to back it up.

The structural support beam of the bar comes in the form of the nougat, which has a bit of an identity crisis. Is it caramel? Is it vanilla? At times it’s both, and I’m okay with that because it’s surrounded by a stringy, Twix-like caramel. This spin on the sticky sweet stuff gives its taste headline to the dextrose while a buttery-nut chaser comes in at the end, and anything with a chaser makes things better.

Rally Bar Gooey innards

The peanuts are outright impressive. These aren’t those puny little nubbins you might get on your discount $49 plane ride you booked on that questionable discount travel site. These are huge, fresh specimens, lightly toasted without a trace of bitterness. Mr. Peanut would approve.

Room temperature, the Rally is pleasant, but, when given a 3-7 second nuke in the microwave, every element heightens to a new form. The caramel gets goopier, the chocolate more fudgy, and the peanuts ride this chocolate slip-and-slide with ease, and all because of seven seconds in my radiation-grade mini-oven. While attempting to maneuver this goopy, malleable mass of chocolate from the 600-watt microwave into my mouth, all I could think was, “Man, this would be great in my morning oatmeal.” And it was. It was also quite good topped with potato chips. No matter how you eat it, eat it while it’s hot.*

*The unofficial title of my debut rap album.

This Rally resurrection reinforces the hypothesis that, when one combines chocolate, caramel, and peanuts in the right ratios, Goodness results. The bar itself is nothing groundbreaking, but just because it isn’t unique doesn’t make it un-delicious. It’s got a funky shape, a sugary coating, and peanuts that tide me over till the next meal/mini meal/snack/pre-dinner chomp/midnight craving strikes, so welcome back, Rally. It’s good to have you.

(Nutrition Facts – 230 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein..)

Item: Hershey’s Rally Bar
Purchased Price: 97 cents
Size: 1.66 oz
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Fudgy. Stringy, sweet caramel. Fresh, chunky peanuts. Similar to a chocolate covered Pay Day. Even better when microwaved. Slip-and-slides made of fudge. Underdogs. Time Travel.
Cons: Chocolate flavor stunted by palm oil. Caramel may be too dextrose-forward for some. Only available at Walgreens. Washing chocolate out of your jeans. Getting sucked in a black hole. Speeding tickets.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar

Hershey's Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar

When I lived in England, there were three things I did routinely for fun: Drink, watch reruns of The Simpsons, and eat chocolate. Not necessarily in that order, but often during the course of a single day. There was this milk chocolate candy bar called Wispa, which was very fun to say in a British accent and unique to my American chocolate sensibilities due to the fact that it was “aerated.” The chocolate had tiny air bubbles in it, which didn’t change the flavor of the bar in any way, but did make the texture a little creamier. Cadbury’s Wispa bar was sort of interesting for what it was at the time (it was discontinued after I left and renamed Dairy Milk Bubbly, which sounds HORRIBLE), but it was still a plain old chocolate bar that melted in me gob faster than I could say “Bob’s-your-uncle.” Gov’na.

Hershey's Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar Outtards

Inexplicably, aerated chocolate has been a trend in Europe for a long time (see also: Aero bars), and now, it’s finally landed on our shores. Hershey’s has released a similar milk chocolate bar that they have dubbed “Hershey’s Air Delight.” Just like the Wispa, it’s chock-full o’ holes. Irregularly-shaped holes. Now let’s get something nice and sparkling clear. I happen to be one of those people who has an unpleasant visceral reaction to the sight of many irregularly-shaped holes or circles clustered together on an object. Things like sea sponges and rashes make my skin crawl. I don’t believe I’m alone in this. OK, maybe I am… But at least I know that it could be a lot worse.

One of my very good friends can’t stand the sight of bubbles or a mound of beads when they are evenly-spaced and of equal shape and size, which you are probably far more likely to encounter in daily life. As a clean freak, the possibility of constantly getting the creepy-crawlies from dish bubbles would mean I was destined for a lifetime of discomfort, so I’m grateful for the small (evenly-shaped) things.

That being said, Hershey’s Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate uses these misshapen air bubbles to make you think they’ve packed more chocolate into the same package when they’re actually giving you less. Half of the candy bar you just bought is air. The Air Delight bar is divided into several rectangular pieces, just like the original Hershey’s bar, but the pieces are slightly thicker. When you bite into it, it feels a little bit crumblier and crispier than a normal chocolate bar, but that could be because the holes (ergh!) are collapsing upon each other. The aerated milk chocolate itself tastes like regular milk chocolate and seems a bit creamier.

Hershey's Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar Innards

Now, let’s get to the uncomfortable part. The holes (gah!) are like honeycomb. Teensy little bubbles in the chocolate. I tried not to look too closely lest I would want to scratch off my own flesh, but it was actually not that bad. I guess the knowledge that the bubble/holes are edible and not caused by pestilence makes it more tolerable.

Anyway, Hershey’s Air Delight is a fine milk chocolate bar with a nice milk chocolate flavor, even if the aerating process doesn’t really add anything to it but a slight crunchiness when you bite and a smooth creaminess when you chew — a small reward for blowing air holes in my candy. Now if they had been speed holes to make the chocolate bar go faster, that would have been awesome.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar (1.44 ounces/40 grams) – 200 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 300 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 8% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Other Hershey’s Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar reviews:
Candyblog
Obsessive Sweets
Foodette Reviews
Fat Guy Food Blog
A Taste of Koko
Random Dude Eats Random Food

Item: Hershey’s Air Delight Aerated Milk Chocolate Bar
Price: $1.19
Size: 1.44 ounces
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Delicious Hershey’s milk chocolate flavor. Fanciful chocolate bar names spoken in foreign accents. Bigger, thicker candy bar pieces. Has a nice crunch. Melts in your mouth. Speed holes.
Cons: Irregularly-shaped holes. Aeration process does nothing more than inject air into the candy and siphon money from your wallet. Creepy-crawlies. European candy trends that don’t really make sense. Candy bar holes are not speed holes.