REVIEW: M&M’s Caramel

M M s Caramel

The history of the M&M goes something like this.

They were released in 1941 to melt in the mouth of our soldiers, and not in their hands, while they fought the bloody battles of World War II. After the United States’ victory it was clear the candy was also a success, and the Peanut variety came along in 1954, followed by Almond in 1960, and then things got really “nuts” in the 90’s with Peanut Butter, Mini’s, and Crispy versions.

But recently, Mars developed the technology to fill the center with a “liquid” filling to hopefully burst in your mouth, and not in your hands. The first result of that is M&M’s Caramel.

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Out of the bag the candies look no different than your standard Peanut or Peanut Butter M&M – bubbly round balls of green, yellow, red, brown, and blue, stamped with the signature lowercase “m”. Biting into the bulb-y beasts gives way to the classic candy coating crunch with a layer of chocolate and then a squishy chew.

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It’s a mellow caramel that isn’t intensely sweet. It has a thick smooth texture that has the density of a Rolo but the consistency you would find in a Milky Way. It isn’t the super silky, wispy, almost runny type of caramel you’d find inside of Cadbury’s Carmello Bar, but it isn’t grainy or cheap tasting either, and ends with a solid milky finish.

The restrained sweetness in these M&M’s is kind of surprising. Considering how sweet some of the seasonal White M&M’s can get and how sweet caramel traditionally is, I was anticipating a significant sugar burst from the filling. I want the caramel to be a touch sweeter, or even salty, as it doesn’t have the explosion of flavor that I really wanted.

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While the Peanut Butter, Peanut, and Crispy M&M’s deliver a significantly different flavor and/or texture inside of the shell, the caramel and chocolate in these have a similar sweet-to-salty ratio that makes the caramel notes less distinct. The milk chocolate actually overpowers the caramel until the very end of the candy, where the caramel peaks through for the final extra chewy chomps.

When all is said and done, these are still M&M’s, so they’re good, but they’re far from the breakthrough candy technology that Mars hyped them up to be. Poppin’ a couple of these will definitely quench your generic sugar craving but won’t hit the spot if you’re seeking some perfectly caramelized sugar flavor because they’re much more chocolate dominant than buttery caramel perfection.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 a pack (40g) – 190 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 2 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 2.83 oz. package (Share Size)
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Classic M&M crunch. Doesn’t melt in your hand. Tasty milk chocolate. Could help win wars. Smooth milky caramel finish.
Cons: Not enough caramel. Caramel needs more contrast. Chocolate overpowers.

REVIEW: Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat

Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat Miniatures

The United States is the land of opportunity.

We’ve got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, open internet, 14,000 McDonald’s locations, and the invention of the Oreo; but we really got screwed when it comes to the Kit Kat.

While Nestle makes the candy in every other region, cranking out over 200 varieties in Japan including flavors like Wasabi and Rum Raisin, Hershey’s controls the brand in the U.S. and give us a tantalizing array of options including milk, dark, and white chocolate.

In what is hopefully a positive sign for our patriotic future, Hershey’s has launched a new Flavors of America line of limited candies, including the Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat.

As a certified born-and-raised-in-California boy, the first thing I think of when pondering my home state isn’t strawberries. But I won’t complain about getting any new flavor of Kit Kat. While avocado, garlic, almond, grape, or beef might have been a truer representation of the Golden State, I can’t deny strawberry is a still relevant much safer sell, and one I pretty much know what will taste like before opening the package.

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Ripping the mini-wrapper open there is a huge wash of artificial strawberry that smells almost identical to Nesquick Strawberry milk. The scent is so similar that I’m surprised there isn’t a quirky brown bunny on the bag.

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The taste mimics the smell, with a sweet fake berry flavor atop white chocolate texture that teeters on being too much. The faux-strawberry notes are so strong that they almost become bitter, peaking out with their odd flavor in the middle of chewing but finishing smooth, sweet, and creamy.

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The coating on this Kit Kat, like most mini Kats, is a bit thicker than the standard longer four-piece bar. The outer layer dominates the wafers on the inside, throwing off the normally perfect balance and taking away from the repeat crunch-ability that KK’s usually provide.

I’m surprised that Hershey’s didn’t try to put a slightly more authentic strawberry flavor into these Kit Kats – a hint of tart or acidity would have gone a long way to make these a more desirable product. While I won’t be throwing the rest of my bag into the garbage, I have a good feeling I’ll have a couple of these leftover for a super rare stocking stuffer come December, and I think my three year old half-brother will appreciate them more than I do.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The United States finally gets a new Kit Kat flavor. Classic Kit Kat crunch. Smooth creamy finish. Will make great rare stocking stuffer.
Cons: Too strong of a fake strawberry flavor. No tart notes. Slightly bitter. Could have repped Cali better with beef.

VIDEO REVIEW: Trolli Sour Brite Sloths

Purchased Price: FREE*
Size: 4.25 oz. bag
Purchased at: Received from Trolli, but available exclusively at 7-Eleven
Nutrition Facts: (5 pieces) 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

*Disclosure: Received free samples from Trolli. Receiving samples did not influence the review.

REVIEW: Reese’s Crunchers

Reese s Crunchers

Someone at Hershey’s has a crunch fetish. After 2016’s super hyped launch of the Cookie Layer Crunch Bars, the chocolate giant is back with the textural fixation via the release of Reese’s Crunchers.

Since the cookie bars didn’t have a peanut butter version at launch, it only seems right that the crunch train keeps rollin’ in the direction of one of Hershey’s strongest and most recognizable brands.

Reese’s Crunchers combine mini peanut butter chips, puffs, and peanuts covered in milk chocolate in a resealable bag so you can casually crunch the day away.

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The aroma is immediately recognizable – the signature sweet and salty Reese’s perfume that all good orange packages ought to smell like. It’s a distinct smell that could be filed under “delicious” for the 97 percent of the world’s population who don’t have a nut allergy.

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Chomping into these Crunchers delivers the same flavor that my nose perked up to and has that great balance of peanut butter and chocolate that Reese’s is known for, but just a bit more muted. The presence of the rice crisps dulls the impact of the peanut butter to make it a less rich and intense flavor, and essentially tastes like the peanut butter sibling to Nestle’s Buncha Crunch.

Although the package says there are chocolate covered peanuts I don’t get any distinct peanut flavor or texture amongst the sea of crisps, and I wish they were stronger as their snap would be a welcome addition to the snack party.

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The only problem with this product is it really isn’t all that crunchy. Yes, the pieces are more crunchy than a standard creamy Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, but definitely less crunchy than the Reese’s Snack Mix that gets a big chompy boost from pretzels and whole peanuts.

The Crunchers are a bit salty but not so much so that they elevate the flavor beyond an actual cup, and without any sort of variety in the bag beyond small and large pieces the eating experience isn’t as exciting as I had hoped it would be.

As much as I love some crunch to go along with my chocolate and peanut butter I would much rather have a single Reese’s cup and eat it alongside some pretzels or popcorn than what these Crunchers offer.

They do, however, seem like a perfect movie theater companion where I could blindly reach in and alternate from Cruncher to corn and corn to Cruncher while the big screen story unfolds before me without worrying about what kind of handful I was going to get in the darkened theater.

At the end of the day they taste like Reese’s, and Reese’s taste like mouth dreams.

(Nutrition Facts – 14 pieces (40g) – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 4 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 6.5 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Classic Reese’s peanut butter flavor. Ability to blindly crunch. The rebirth of Buncha Crunch. Textural fetish fulfillment.
Cons: Not as crunchy as the name would imply. Not enough peanuts. Rice crisps cut the richness of the peanut butter. Less satisfying than a regular Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup

REVIEW: Hershey’s Eggs with Pretzel Bits

Hershey s Eggs with Pretzel Bits2

I’ve been insecure about eating pretzels ever since I took that university astronomy class six years ago.

One evening we had a test review session, and the TA explained, “The sun is lowest in the sky at the winter solstice.” One girl asked, in complete seriousness, “Is that in August?” She had an open bag of pretzels on her desk, so ever since that time, I’ve wondered if pretzels are the preferred snack of those who are a few stars short of a galaxy.

Nevertheless, my obsession for anything holiday related trumps my insecurities about pretzels, so here I am trying Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Eggs with Pretzel Bits.

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All of them are in the same blue wrapper, which is a bit boring in an Easter basket, don’cha think? I’m sure they did this either (a) because it’s cost prohibitive to make different wrappers for just one flavor of candy, or (b) because they want you to mix colors with their other flavors.

The answer is always money.

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When I take them out of the wrapper, my first thought is that they are ugly. They look more like footballs, complete with a seam, than they look like eggs.

But the real test comes in the eating. Are they any good?

Yes!

They have that familiar Hershey’s flavor you get in Kisses or those packages of six candy bars they sell next to the marshmallows and graham crackers. But this time, it’s crunchy. Me likey.

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I’ve let a few melt in my mouth so I can isolate the pretzel bits. I wondered if they’d be some pretzel-like imitation, but no, they’re the real deal, down to the salt. I don’t notice the salt if I crunch the whole egg at once, but with the pretzels by themselves, it’s definitely there. I can get my pretzel fix with these without feeling insecure about my knowledge of seasons.

Now, everyone knows that Hershey’s chocolate is never going to rival Cadbury Mini Eggs or Lindt bunnies. But these certainly beat those RM Palmer coins and eggs that were a staple of my childhood Easter baskets.

The biggest problem with these is their availability. I looked in nine different stores before I finally found them in the tenth. I think I encountered every other flavor on the way, but this pretzel variety is hard to find. But that’s fitting. They’re Easter eggs, after all.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 pieces – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: Harmons
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Familiar Hershey’s chocolate with a crunch. Actual pretzels inside.
Cons: One color of wrapper. Look like ugly footballs. Hard to find. College students who don’t understand seasons and solstices.