REVIEW: Hershey’s Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar

Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar

It’s no controversial hot take to say that Hershey’s doesn’t make the highest quality chocolate around, not even the greatest chocolate at 7-Eleven or Walgreens; but they definitely know how to put together a good candy bar.

Among my favorite of their bars is the white chocolate Cookies ‘n’ Creme Bar, and with a twist of marketing genius Hershey’s have unleashed three new spins on that success with Cookie Layer Crunch Bars. The caramel flavor combines milk chocolate with shortbread cookie bits and a velvety caramel, packaged in mini bars of three breakable pieces.

Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar 2

The chocolate has a deeper fuller taste than what I’m used to with Hershey’s milk chocolate, lacking that undesirable slight graininess from their classic bar. It has an almost dark chocolate quality to it, a sensation that is created by the contrast of the sweeter caramel and salty cookie pieces.

The saltiness of the shortbread comes through beautifully, but the “bits” aren’t big enough to really get any of that lush buttery flavor usually associated with this type of cookie. I can’t knock Hershey’s here since they do use the small-implying word “bits” but the texture-fiend in me wants more crunch, especially with the word being in the name. 

Hershey's Caramel Cookie Layer Crunch Bar 3

The chocolate to caramel to cookie ratio is well balanced and doesn’t come across as overwhelmingly sweet, which can oftentimes happen in candy bars that feature caramel without any nuts.

I can’t say I’ve ever had a readily available candy quite like this and that’s a good thing because it’s fresh and it works. It teeters on the line of your typical grocery chocolate bar and something more gourmet you might find at a chocolatier like See’s or Godiva. Each piece is layered with that sweet salty crunch that shines in one of my other favorite Hershey’s products, the oftentimes overlooked and pretzel-prominent Take 5.

This might be the most repeat-noshable candy bar Hershey’s has released without peanut butter in it, and a great launch for a company that hasn’t done much to innovate the junk aisle game outside of weird seasonal flavors of Kisses. From the snack-style packaging to the different flavors to the multiple textures, Hershey’s has unleashed something simple but effective that should prove to be very popular and leaves itself open to new and limited/seasonal variations down the line.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 package (2 bars) – 200 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.29
Size: 1.4 oz. bar
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Smooth rich chocolate. Sweet salty fix. Great packaging. Most repeat-noshable Hershey’s without peanut butter.
Cons: Could use more crunch. Could use more shortbread butteriness. Could use peanut butter.

REVIEW: Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares

Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares

With some chocolate and mint candies it feels as if your mouth was assaulted by multiple candy canes or 9 out of the 10 dentists who recommend a particular toothpaste armed with the toothpaste they recommend. But that’s not the case with these Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares.

They have a mild peppermint flavor that doesn’t overpower the milk chocolate exterior or “brownie” filling. What’s with the quotation marks? I’ll get to that in a moment.

The filling has tiny crunchy bits and you might think it’s peppermint candy because everything about the packaging SCREAMS peppermint candy, but it’s not. Digging one out of my mouth reveals they’re mint chocolate cookie crumbs that look like part of a cavity all 10 of those dentists would remove from a mouth.

The milk chocolate is creamy and the filling is smooth, but with every square I’ve eaten I keep wondering when the ”brownie” flavor will show up. I’ve had enough brownies in my lifetime to know what they taste like and I don’t get an inkling of the baked good in these.

Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares 2

The squares have the right balance of milk chocolate and mint, the filling is smooth, and I love the crunchy cookie bits. But what excited me about these was the word “brownie” and I didn’t get any of it with flavor or texture.

For a minty chocolate candy, they’re really pleasing. And if the squares were used as tile in the bathroom of the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she would have to redo it after every time I came over because I would eat most of it.

But as I lay on her bathroom floor made from Ghirardelli Limited Edition Milk Chocolate Peppermint Brownie Squares, stuffing my face with the surface I’m lying on, I’ll be extremely disappointed they didn’t have brownie flavor or peppermint candy bits in them.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 square – 80 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 5.1 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful mint and chocolate squares. Crunchy bits add a pleasant texture. Creamy milk chocolate. Brushing your teeth. Being able to leave the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretel without being eaten.
Cons: No brownie flavor. No peppermint candy bits. The witch in Hansel and Gretel sending me the bill for her bathroom repairs. Cavities.

REVIEW: Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

December 25, 1995.

I thought I hit the jackpot. Not only did my stocking contain a Gumby keychain, but it contained an entire package of Andes mints, to keep all for myself! That was way better than the blueberry and butterscotch candy canes I got. (Those are two different flavors, BTW.) Andes were a super fancy candy I only ever got when we snuck them from our wealthy, mint-loving grandmother.

I started to realize they weren’t all that fancy when we would get them as Christmas gifts from those neighbors we barely knew. But even though my estimation of them has gone down, I still find myself decimating a package in a relatively short amount of time, with the wrappers accumulating in my pants pockets and dryer lint screen. Therefore, I was intrigued to try these new Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 2

The paper wrappers for these are a shiny silver, rather than the familiar green. The packaging makes it look like the wrappers will be green or bronze, but nope, it’s silver. When you strip the candies, they look just like a typical cookies ’n’ creme bar. There’s no green stripe indicating that it will be a mint flavor.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 3

However, once you pop them in your mouth, they taste just like regular Andes mints. (At least they taste exactly as I remember them; I didn’t taste the two kinds side by side.) There is no flavor of cookies ’n’ creme. The uniqueness of these is purely textural; there is a definite crunch. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s there. This means that there is no false advertising when the package says, “The Mint Taste You Love, With a CRUNCH!” That’s 100 percent accurate. Nothing more, nothing less.

This crunch will mean different things to different people. Some people will find the crunchy bits a welcome addition to the otherwise uninteresting Andes. Others will find the crunchy bits an unnerving distraction to the mints’ smoothness. It probably depends on whether you prefer creamy or crunchy peanut butter. And me, I usually prefer crunchy, so I like these new Andes.

I would gladly welcome a package of these in my stocking this year. But I don’t need another Gumby keychain. I still have the first one I got.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 4

(Nutrition Facts – 8 pieces – 210 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 4.67 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy bits provide new texture. Tastes exactly like standard Andes mints, as promised by the package. Keeping Christmas toys for 21 years.
Cons: Change is purely textural. Wrappers accumulating in pockets and lint screens.

REVIEW: Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar

Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar

This morning I cracked open a fortune cookie (I tend to eschew traditional breakfasts for whatever happens to be in my car). The fortune read “All progress occurs because people dare to be different.” It made me ponder if the fortune tellers had encountered the Oreo Big Crunch Bar, as the product’s differences from its namesake served as deterrents to my enjoyment.

Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar 2

My expectations for a “Big Crunch” were set immediately due to the naming contrivances employed. In the wake of snagging mini chocolate bars from my kids’ Halloween stashes last month, I felt foolish sitting alone in a room with this massive product — it was clearly meant to be consumed by a lacrosse team or a car full of clowns. Big, and then some, and then some more.

Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar 4

Conversely, I’m not quite sure about the crunch factor also used in the product’s moniker. The 2 to 1 ratio we are accustomed to with Oreo cookies has been replaced with a 1 to 4 ratio — Milka chocolate on the top and bottom, plus creme on BOTH the bottom and top of one layer of cookie. To further uncrunchify the bar, pools of creme and chocolate sans cookie occur in the corners.

One additional misconception furthered by the partnership with Oreo is that the creme inside the candy bar is going to be the same found in an Oreo. The familiar grainy texture has been replaced with something sweeter, smoother, and unfamiliar. It’s not bad but certainly unexpected.

Milka Oreo Big Crunch Bar 3

Differences aside, the first bites of Oreo BCB were enjoyable. It reminded me of an improved version of my least favorite Oreo incarnation, the insanely sweet White Fudge covered Oreos. Here the ratio of chocolate did not appear to be as overwhelming at first and had a pleasant taste, but consuming more lead quickly to sweetness fatigue.

Overall, this was probably not the reaction that Milka was hoping for when combining two hallmark products. Lacking in crunch or Oreo-ness, being big just isn’t enough. “One must fulfill what they intend to be” is the more telling fortune in this case, and Milka seems to have missed by quite a bit on that prophesy.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces – 230 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99 (on sale)
Size: 10.5 oz. bar
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Hulking size. Improvement on Fudge-covered Oreo concept. Some Cookies N’ Cream overtones. The best fortune I ever read: “You like Chinese food.”
Cons: Crunch is suppressed. Creme is not “that” creme. Far sweeter than necessary. The worst fortune I ever made up: “Those who can cook, do. Those who cannot write food reviews.”

REVIEW: Apple Pie Tic Tac

Apple Pie Tic Tac

Tic Tacs — the little candy that pretends to be a breath mint, even though I doubt they’ve ever freshened anyone’s breath. I don’t know about you, but my mouth feels worse when I have a Tic Tac.

But that doesn’t stop me from buying their holiday versions. Usually that means they just mix a few of their existing flavors into a new color scheme. But they’re branching out more into new flavors.

Hence the new Apple Pie Tic Tacs. I found them in the Christmas candy aisle (next to Candy Cane Tic Tacs), and the label says it’s “stocking stuffer size” (because obviously regular-sized Tic Tacs are too small to fit in a stocking), but other than that, these don’t scream Christmas. I associate apple pie more with Thanksgiving, so that’s a good thing.

I find it a little odd that they’re red, because when I eat apple pie, the apples are peeled, so it’s just a mixture of whites and tans. But I guess beige Tic Tacs wouldn’t sell well. The little apple pie drawing on the label looks like it could be full of giant red Tic Tacs (or else regular Tic Tacs in a tiny pie). Also, the apple on the label is green. Weird.

When I pop one in my mouth, it just tastes like apple, fairly similar to Green Apple Tic Tacs. (Both kinds are made with dried apples, but these specify that they’re dried red apples.) After I suck on it, other flavors kick in, though I can’t tell what flavors. It’s not really spicy, but it is vaguely reminiscent of pie. My niece and my sister said it tastes like Sugar Babies, but I didn’t taste that.

Regardless of what they taste like, these are good. Imma venture these are the best fruity Tic Tacs I’ve ever had. In fact, I might go so far as to say these are the best Tic Tacs I’ve ever had, period.

But, at the end of the day, they’re still just Tic-Tacs. They have no place on the Thanksgiving dinner table. But they will gladly be passed around afterward during the football game.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 1.9 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, less than 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, less than 0.5 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 1.7 oz. container
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes vaguely like pie. Better than most, or all, Tic Tacs. Seasonal flavors. Not excessively marketed for Christmas.
Cons: Doesn’t freshen breath. Inaccurate red color.