REVIEW: White Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy Treat M&M’s

I found White Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy Treat M&M’s at Sheetz on the first day I bothered to leave my home post-holiday and post-blizzard. Nestled on the shelf between springtime staples Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and Cadbury Creme Eggs, these new M&M’s consist of marshmallow-flavored white chocolate and a crisped rice center.

Although Mars previously released White Chocolate Marshmallow M&M’s in 2019, I was intrigued by the product and wondered: “Could White Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy Treat M&M’s be the perfect springtime treat?” If spring is the season of rebirth and renewal, fruit and floral flavors should step aside. Marshmallows deserve the springtime crown. After all, crispy cereal treats promise a second life to those stale marshmallows that never made it into your cocoa mug this winter. Still very much in the depths of winter, I look forward to renewing my pantry long before the first day of spring arrives.

Eager to test my theory and the product, I bought a Share Size package and was struck by the candy’s beautiful pastel color palette of yellow, blue, coral, and pink. Generally small and pebble-like, these M&M’s are smaller than the standard plain variety, comparable in size to the recent Milk Chocolate Honey Graham flavor. However, these M&M’s vary widely in size and shape. This variance, coupled with the candy’s lovely colors, reminds me of colorful aquarium gravel (aka “Forbidden Fruity Pebbles”) in the best possible way.

The small bites proved to be a great choice because the crispy center core added satisfying texture and balance to the white chocolate’s sweetness. The texture definitely enhances the candy and is a perfect representation of a crispy cereal treat. Even though the texture suggests crispy cereal treat so strongly, the marshmallow flavor underwhelms. It’s subtle and hard to recreate. This attempt reminds me of marshmallow fondant: sugary with a hint of artificial vanilla. The taste is definitely not bad, as evidenced by how easily I downed half a bag. The flavor just reminds me more of “white chocolate with a memory of marshmallow” than actual marshmallow.

This next detail didn’t factor into my rating, but I felt the need to share. Because the candies are irregularly-shaped, some of the M’s do not appear fully on every shell. At first, I thought the partial M’s were intended as other letters, spelling out a spring-themed message. For someone who loves words, I am terrible at Scrabble, especially when the only letters at my disposal are M, N, U, and I. (Plus that sideways M that looks like an E.) U MINE? Yikes.

Overall, the crispy texture of White Chocolate Marshmallow Crispy M&M’s offers an improvement upon the 2019 White Chocolate Marshmallow variety. I liked them less than other white chocolate offerings, especially the Key Lime Pie flavor. Maybe fruit flavors should keep the springtime flavor crown, but marshmallow should be assured that there is no shame in second place.

Purchased Price: $2.89
Size: 3.22 oz (91.3 g) – Share Size
Purchased at: Sheetz
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 serving, or 1/3 Share Size package) 150 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Milky Way Cookie Dough Bar

What is it?

The Milky Way Cookie Dough bar consists of caramel and cookie dough-flavored nougat enrobed in milk chocolate. Look for its pink metallic wrapper beckoning to you from the candy aisle.

How is it?

The weight of my expectations fell on this Milky Way’s nougat, which is responsible for the bar’s cookie dough flavor. Cross-sectioned, the bar doesn’t look very different from a classic Milky Way. The nougat is a couple of shades darker, but it still has the fluffy texture one would expect from the brand. I thought I might find tiny chocolate chips flecked in the nougat to drive home the cookie dough theme, but no dice.

It takes a few chews for the cookie dough flavor to come through, and once it does, it is lovely. The nougat tastes buttery with hints of vanilla, a combination that definitely recalls cookie dough. Some textural element — those missing chips or a chewier nougat, maybe — could have reinforced that sensation of plucking gobs of cookie dough from the mixing bowl. But Milky Ways are all about their smooth centers, so I understand and respect the choice not to deviate too far from what is already a great thing.

Combined with the milk chocolate and caramel, this variety of Milky Way is a tempting addition to the candy aisle. I would choose Milky Way Cookie Dough over the classic Milky Way, but probably not over Milky Way Midnight (a criminally underrated bar).

Anything else you need to know?

Because one cookie is never enough, Twix has also recently released a Cookie Dough variety. Now you’ll have two metallic pink wrappers beckoning to you from the candy aisle.

Conclusion:

As any cookie dough recipe might attest, minor substitutions can yield positive changes. The Milky Way Cookie Dough bar’s flavorful nougat is simple, but it creates a delicious twist on a classic.

Purchased Price: $1.98
Size: 3.16 oz (89.6 g) – Share Size
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 serving, or 1/2 Share Size package) 210 calories, 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Espresso M&M’s

Espresso M M s Bag

Although I’m not a big coffee drinker, I love coffee-flavored sweets. They give me the hit of the distinctive flavor I love, often with added sweetness and texture. Nor will a slice of tiramisu or a scoop of coffee ice cream force me to endure a case of the jitters or that pesky co-worker asking me, “Would you like some coffee with your milk and sugar?” for the 1,208th time. The joke wasn’t funny the first time, Brenda.

Espresso M M s Mug

New seasonal Espresso M&M’s, then, very much appeal to my caffeine-conscious ways. I picked up a bag from the holiday display at CVS, and two things surprised me. First, upon opening the bag, I did not detect a strong coffee scent. The large brown, beige, and red candies smelled like a bag of semisweet chocolate chips, not the natural flavors promised to me by the package’s list of ingredients. How could the M&M’s remind me of sipping a hot beverage in a cozy cafe without the powerful scent of roasted coffee beans? Second, I had expected the M&M’s to consist solely of dark chocolate, which lends itself well to espresso’s concentrated flavor. Instead, they contain both milk and dark chocolate.

Espresso M M s Innards

Luckily, there was a third surprise in store: the first two surprises turned out to be nothing to worry about. The M&M’s have a strong, concentrated flavor that tastes like a shot of espresso but still honors the candy’s chocolate identity. The milk chocolate center of each M&M offers sweetness, but the surrounding dark chocolate gives a satisfying bitter edge. Together, the combination is delicious.

The flavor of Espresso M&M’s reminds me of chocolate-covered espresso beans, another treat that turns coffee into intensely flavorful candy. Although I like the taste, I just can’t get past the gritty texture of the beans and their tendency to haunt my gum line with black specks. The Espresso M&M’s smooth chocolate center was a welcome departure from that texture, making them a good alternative to other coffee-inspired snacks. (No offense to the Coffee Nut Peanut or Crunchy Espresso varieties of yore.) Like a cup of espresso itself, the M&M’s allow a simple but strong flavor to shine unadulterated.

Espresso M M s Spill

I shared my M&M’s with a relative who, despite our familial sweet tooth, is the opposite of me in regards to java: she loves coffee and prefers hers as black as a panther collecting charcoal on a moonless night. However, she does not typically like coffee-flavored things. The fourth surprise of the Espresso M&M’s experience was hers: she really enjoyed them!

For lovers of coffee and chocolate of all varieties, Espresso M&M’s will be a hit this holiday season. I’ll take a double shot, please!

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 7.44 oz (210.9 g) bag
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 ounce/about 16 pieces) 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Lay’s Sweet & Salty Dipped Clusters

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters Bag

Sweet and salty may be a time-honored flavor combination, but it truly shines during the winter holidays. After all, this is the time we drizzle cranberry sauce over savory meat and vegetable side dishes. We hoard peanut brittle in tins. We melt Rolos on top of pretzel snaps, crown them with M&M’s, and devour them before even arriving at the holiday cookie exchange. Maybe it is just the sheen of the season, but something about these traditions really elevates the sweet-and-salty pairing in a way no other time of year can claim.

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters 2

Lay’s Sweet & Salty Dipped Clusters takes the timeless flavor combination and adds holiday sprinkles on top —- literally. Described on the package as a “dipped potato snack,” the bite-sized, bell-shaped clusters consist of potato chip pieces, crisped rice, almond bits, milk chocolate coating, and red and green nonpareils.

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters 6

The salty body of each cluster contains the potato chips, crisped rice, and almonds. The potato chip flavor dominates, but the other ingredients contribute to the snack’s intense crunchiness. The almonds provide a hint of nutty flavor, but I’m not sure I would have been able to identify almonds as an ingredient. Because the pieces are ground into such small flecks, they are difficult to detect. Like the holiday spirit itself or that one relative who sends a mildly insulting greeting card every year in lieu of visiting, the almonds are not seen, but their presence is still very much felt.

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters 4

The pieces are packed tightly together in each cluster, which also contributes to their crunchy texture. The snacks almost remind me of a savory Rice Krispies Treat, although without the marshmallow binding.

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters 3

The sweet flavor instead comes from the milk chocolate, which partially covers each cluster. (The festive sprinkles on top don’t contribute much taste or texture, but they are pretty nonetheless.) The chocolate is the perfect smooth, sweet complement to the salty, crunchy cluster. Together, the components make a delicious small treat that is easy to pop into your mouth during holiday movie marathons. The 5-ounce bag is on the small side, so larger appetites should plan accordingly.

Lay s Sweet  Salty Dipped Clusters 5

As I made my way further into the bag, I noticed not every cluster was uniform in terms of shape, chocolate distribution, and sprinkle amount. I prefer the clusters that have a little more chocolate to balance out the rest of the salty snack, but other taste buds may beg to differ. The less aesthetically-pleasing clusters are obviously still delicious, but less festive. This might only present an issue if you value perfect presentation for holiday gatherings. Or did you eat all the Rolo pretzels and are secretly planning to pass off Lay’s Sweet & Salty Dipped Clusters as a homemade treat at the cookie exchange?

I won’t tell anyone if you save a bag for me.

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 5 oz bag (141.7 g)
Purchased at: Target.com
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 6 pieces) 140 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream Pint

It’s that time of year, folks.

PUMPKINUNDATION: the annual influx of pumpkin-inspired products into our grocery stores, characterized by bright orange packaging and liberal use of spice. Whether Pumpkinundation inspires profound joy or the urge to grumble that maple is the superior fall flavor, we junk foodies know that pumpkin rings the official bell of autumn.

To me, there is no greater harbinger of autumn than Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights. Styled like jack-o’-lantern faces, these seasonal soft spiced cookies are stuffed with pumpkin jam filling. They are chewy, delicious, and easily crushed in your purse when you carry one around as an emergency dessert. (I am speaking from experience.) Pumpkin Delights are Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin in edible form. When they appear on shelves, I am overtaken by a terrible urge to wear heavy wool sweaters and visit a Spirit Halloween store in August. In short, I love them.

Little Debbie and Hudsonville Creamery have granted my autumn wish by adding a Pumpkin Delights variety to their line of ice creams. This Walmart-exclusive line is extensive and has received largely favorable reviews from our contributors. Since this was my first experience with the line, I was eager to evaluate both the product’s overall taste and its similarity to its beloved namesake.

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream Top

This new variety’s package offers no hint as to its flavor or composition (besides “artificial flavors added”), so I dove spoon first into the mystery. Peeling back the foil lid, I was pumpkin-delighted to see orange: a pumpkin base. Maybe I am just cynical by nature, but I had expected vanilla ice cream, an easy base to carry novel mix-ins. I should have known Little Debbie takes no shortcuts.

The ice cream is creamy, delicious, and nicely rich. Unlike other pumpkin snacks, it doesn’t rely too heavily on spice for flavor. It reminds me of a pumpkin cheesecake ice cream: a bit of tang and a bit of spice that enhance an authentic pumpkin taste.

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream Pumpkin

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream Spoon

Within the base is a graham cookie swirl that basically tastes like a mashed up Pumpkin Delight cookie. Its flavor is wonderful: a combination of pumpkin, molasses, and brown sugar. A hint of grittiness through the cookie crumbs adds a pleasant texture — a welcome departure from the Pumpkin Delight’s softness. My major gripe is that there isn’t nearly enough swirl. I found one good hunk of the stuff in my serving, and as I dug through the remnants of the container, I excavated mere additional scraps.

Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream Evil Cookie

Although stingy — no, miserly — with its cookie swirl, Little Debbie’s Pumpkin Delights Ice Cream is a delicious fall treat for pumpkin lovers and a satisfying counterpart to its cookie inspiration. It is high quality ice cream — not “frozen dairy dessert” — and certainly the best I’ve tried at this price point. For $2.50 per pint, I might pick up another container and go excavating for more cookie swirls. Digging for sugar, after all, is the most time-honored tradition of Pumpkinundation.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: One pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 2/3 cup) 240 calories, 12 grams of total fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar including 17 grams of added sugar, and 4 grams of protein.