In 1999, on the cusp of new millennium meltdown fears, my favorite M&M without the word “peanut” in its name was born.
Crispy M&M’s channeled the fun textural contrast of Nestle’s Crunch Bar in a portable, poppable format that worked for me and became my go-to anytime I wasn’t feeling nutty. Then, without warning, they vanished and I was left to chomp only the outer shell of an M&M without any inner crunchy surprise.
In 2015, my faith in humanity was restored and Crispy M&M’s returned in a new green bag with all the same deliciously simple crispy-rice-meets-chocolate flavor I remembered from my snack-heavy childhood. As delicious as they are, I always felt like the odd man out with my love for them, especially considering its ten-year hiatus of production in the United States. But now, the crispy boys are getting their shine in a winner-takes-all food fight under the new moniker of “crunchy.”
While 2016’s inaugural M&M’s voting contest saw the much more popular Peanut variety go head-to-head with new unique flavor offerings, this year’s feels a bit more underground. Welcome to the chocolate arena –- Mint, Espresso, and Raspberry.
Crunchy Mint M&M’s
The Crunchy Mint M&M’s are in-TENSE. They have a strong peppermint presence matched up with semisweet chocolate for a combination that’s not for the faint of heart. While the flavor isn’t toothpaste-y, it’s on the verge of being too much and could benefit from a bit more sweetness to be truly delectable.
I’m a fan of chocolate and mint together so I like the classic mashup, but the balance feels a wee bit off and leans towards breath freshening over sweet tooth satisfying.
Crunchy Espresso M&M’s
Crunchy Espresso M&M’s feel like a direct offshoot of the winning Coffee Nut M&M’s and placing last year’s victor in the mix feels both appropriate and lazy. There’s a strong ground coffee aroma wafting from the package that translates pretty convincingly to the taste. Chocolate and coffee is one of the best flavor combinations known to man and it’s almost cheating how well they work together.
The semisweet chocolate gets an elevated boost from the coffee flavor which adds more depth and darkness than standard Crispy M&M’s while not getting too bitter. Much like in the Peanut version, the balance is pretty much spot on and are an enjoyable treat.
Crunchy Raspberry M&M’s
Crunchy Raspberry M&M’s are the most interesting, unique, and risky of the bunch, but I’m happy to report they are DELICIOUS. The raspberry flavor is big and floral without tasting artificial and is wonderfully tempered by the, once again, semisweet chocolate. Raspberry and cocoa are another one of those classic sophisticated combos that I can’t help but love when executed properly, and Mars did a terrific job of balancing the two into a surprisingly complex spherical candy.
The texture of the Raspberry ones are also a little different. They have the expected rice crispness but also what feels like another layer of almost-chewy chocolate that helps them stick out among the pack. Cutting into the M&M’s reveals two tones of color when compared to the other two, which might add to the triple texture effect.
If I had the final say in this battle of chocolate I would definitely keep Raspberry around for a victory lap. While Espresso and Mint are good, they’ve already been done and aren’t really pushing the envelope. But hey, I was also that weirdo that wanted the Chili Nut M&M’s to win in the first contest, so I’ll probably lose this one too.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 pack – 180 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.)
Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 1.35 oz. bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Crunchy Mint)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Crunchy Espresso)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Crunchy Raspberry)
Pros: Same awesome crispy crunchy flavor. Giving some shine to the underground. Raspberry is a refreshing different flavor. Espresso strong and classic.
Cons: Playing it safe with mint and coffee. Mint balance far too strong. Why are these not “crispy”?