REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Milano Strawberry Chocolate Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Milano Strawberry Chocolate Cookies

When I heard Pepperidge Farm was making a new strawberry chocolate Milano, I was sure it was for Valentine’s Day. Red velvet and strawberry are the kings of amorous flavors (recently, at least), and the timing’s right.

But the packaging gives no indication that the Milano Strawberry Chocolate Cookies are a limited edition or Valentine version. All there is is a little yellow “NEW!” banner on the front. This new cookie joins the Pepperidge Farm lineup in a rather unobtrusive manner.

The cookie portion is a typical Milano -— crunchy, simple wafers bolstered by its semisweet chocolate. Pepperidge Farm would have you call this “Strawberry Chocolate,” but the small font on the front indicates that it’s actually “Strawberry Flavored.”

What’s new is a light pink layer next to the chocolate, colored by beet juice and annatto extract. It’s a nice fruity flavor that reminds me of strawberry milk. As the “Flavored” on the package indicates, there is no actual strawberry in the ingredients, but there are no artificial flavors, only natural flavors. I don’t know enough about food science to know if that means anything.

The strawberry chocolate cookie does exactly what it sets out to do. I taste the strawberry, but it’s not overwhelming, and the flavor works. I really have no complaints.

At the same time, however, I don’t have any particular accolades. The flavor doesn’t amaze me with its goodness. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse than other Milanos, just a little bit different. The back of the package says, “Milano: Irresistible. So why resist?” These may or may not be irresistible; that’s a personal preference. But if you replace “resistible” with “remarkable,” it’s spot on.

(Oh, you’re telling me the word is “unremarkable,” not “irremarkable”? Fine. So be it.)

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Just for the heck of it, I cut up some strawberries and ate them with the cookies. Doing so neither detracted from nor added to the treats; the cookie dominated over the fruit in my mouth.

I like these cookies; however, I feel like they fill the role I play at a party: no one would miss me if I weren’t there, but at least I’m not annoying.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 7 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Yummy variation on the classic cookie. Tastes like strawberry milk. Nothing to complain about.
Cons: Nothing spectacular. Doesn’t use real strawberries. Unremarkable.

REVIEW: Triple Chocolate M&M’s

Triple Chocolate M M s

I have long imagined Valentine’s Day as the pink, wintry sequel to Halloween.

Both are holidays primarily geared at giving candy to children. Both are “major” holidays where you still have to go to work. Both are gatekeepers of larger eerie/thankful/merry and loving/lucky/springlike holiday seasons.

Four months ago, I was unimpressed with Cookies & Screeem M&M’s, which were a white chocolate center inside a dark chocolate layer.

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Now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Mars has stuffed not two but three kinds of chocolate inside a candy shell. Triple Chocolate M&M’s have a milk chocolate center, a white chocolate layer, and a dark chocolate layer, all inside the iconic shell. I guess this is their idea of cramming an entire heart-shaped box of chocolates into one small morsel.

The first thing I noticed about the packaging was the corniness of the picture. Ladies, if a man proposes to you with a ring with half a pink M&M on it, turn him down. You can do better. For one thing, that ring will turn your finger green…after it turns it pink and brown.

Fortunately, these red, pink, and purple candies are better than their spooky predecessor. First of all, they don’t have the chemical flavor of the black food coloring. Additionally, Mars made the right move by putting their flagship milk chocolate —- the flavor they used to call “Plain” -— in the center. Milk chocolate is the star of the show.

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Don’t give a standing ovation to the white and dark supporting cast, however. I can taste their presence only minimally. If I let an M&M dissolve in my mouth, I can detect the different layers’ textures, but only because I know they’re there. Overall, the M&M is a conglomeration of generic sweetness. If someone snuck in an occasional oversized “Plain” milk chocolate M&M, I probably would never notice.

They’re a tasty candy, and I don’t think anyone will ever turn them down. It’s cool they got all three kinds of chocolate inside, but the flavor isn’t as noticeable or innovative as you would hope.

I would prefer it if the Walmart-exclusive Strawberry Milk Chocolate variety from 2016 was brought back as the St. Valentine’s Day variety, but Triple Chocolate is better than the Walmart-exclusive White Cheesecake. I would be glad if they brought these back next year, but wouldn’t miss them if they didn’t.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz. – 200 calories, 90 fat calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9.9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Lee’s MarketPlace
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cool that they got three kinds of chocolate in one. Milk chocolate takes center stage. A yummy candy. Better than Cookies & Screeem.
Cons: It’s hard to detect the dark and white chocolates. Less flavorful, and less Valentine’s-y, than the strawberry flavor of 2016. Ridiculous packaging.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Hot & Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Hot  Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies

I have never met an Oreo I didn’t like.

That said, not all Oreos hit the mark. Some of them taste too artificial, and some of the special flavors are too similar to the regular ones. I had lots of questions going into the Hot & Spicy Cinnamon Oreo. Would it taste like cinnamon candy? Would the cinnamon clash with the chocolate cookie? So many possible outcomes!

It has always bothered me that the serving size for Oreo cookies is only two cookies. Let’s be honest: nobody is ever going to eat only two of them, especially since there are at least three ways of eating them.

Limited Edition Hot  Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies 3

The first way I wanted to eat it was by isolating the red creme. How’d they do with making it taste like cinnamon candy as promised on the package? They nailed it! It tastes just like Red Hots/cinnamon bears/your favorite cinnamon candy of choice, but with the flavor of Oreo creme mixed in. I wouldn’t call it hot, though it might be too spicy for the smallest children. The texture is the same grainy goo of most Oreo cookies.

The second way I wanted to try it was the boring way: just biting directly into it. This would be a chance for it to mess up: would the cocoa cookie clash with the cinnamon candy–flavored creme? Nope! The cinnamon shines through without overpowering the cookie. We’re two for two.

But how about the third and best way to eat milk’s favorite cookie?

Limited Edition Hot  Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies 4

As much as I liked the cookies dry, they’re even better in milk. The cinnamon is more flavorful, yet still not overbearing, in a dipped cookie. I wondered if the cinnamon would clash with the milk, but it doesn’t.

I had thought these would be a good April Fool’s Day prank. You could buy a package of the plain Winter Oreos with the red creme, then replace them with cinnamon and trick your friends. But now that I’ve tried them, I realize that would be a benevolent prank, because the Hot & Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies are better than the original.

Limited Edition Hot  Spicy Cinnamon Oreo Cookies 2

At the risk of giving you high expectations and then having them dashed when you try them yourselves, I will say this: these are the best Oreos I have had. They are also the best cinnamon-flavored product I have had.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of total sugars, 13 grams of added sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 oz package
Purchased at: Lee’s MarketPlace
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like cinnamon candy, but it doesn’t clash with the chocolate cookie. Tastes better with milk. The best Oreo I have had. The best cinnamon treat I have had.
Cons: Serving size is only two cookies. I might have made your expectations too high. I fear that people won’t buy these and they will be discontinued.

QUICK REVIEW: Skittles Love Mix

Skittles Love Mix

I’m delighted that Skittles is expanding its five-flavor mixes to include Valentine’s Day. If you don’t have a special someone, candy is the best part of February 14, and Skittles Love Mix is something I would gladly welcome from a secret admirer.

Skittles Love Mix 2

Skittles Love Mix 3

The darkest red is cherry. Cherry is one of those default flavors that usually isn’t very good, but the Skittles cherry is actually better than most other cherry-flavored candies.

The medium red is strawberry, and it tastes like strawberry Starburst. I like it the best of this mix.

The lightest red is watermelon. It’s a nice flavor reminiscent of summertime, but to me it tastes like it should be gum.

One of the whites, yumberry, returns from the America Mix. It’s a benign little flavor, but I have no idea what a yumberry is.

The other white is white grape. It reminds me of Dimetapp, but the grape flavor isn’t extremely potent.

I like all the flavors individually, and if you plop them in your mouth together, they play nicely.

Skittles Love Mix 4

My biggest disappointment is the colors. You have five flavors for Valentine’s Day, and none of them are pink? Really? The colors are so close that they’re hard to distinguish. Watermelon is the only one that’s instantly recognizable. The yumberry and white grape are identical; and since I don’t know what a yumberry is, and the grape flavor isn’t very strong, I have a hard time knowing what one I’m eating even when I’m chewing it. I would have rather had pink grape.

Skittles Love Mix 6

Pink grape?” you ask. Well, yes. When I make juice from the green grapes that grow in my backyard, it comes out pink, oddly enough.

The colors didn’t tickle me pink, but the Love Mix will be an enjoyable option for your heart-shaped candy dish.

Skittles Love Mix 5

Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: 11 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1.4 oz) 160 calories, 15 fat calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: 7-Eleven Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate

7 Eleven Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate

I’ve never been a big fan of buying hot chocolate from a gas station, food truck, or stand. Why fork out that money when you can go home and make your own from a powder? It’s a lot cheaper, and you won’t waste a disposable cup.

But, strangely, there’s something alluring about buying food from 7-Eleven. It might be overpriced garbage, but it’s tasty garbage. A guilty pleasure.

7 Eleven Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate 2

When I filled up my cup with 7-Eleven’s Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate, I was excited about how thick, chocolatey, and sugary it looked. What could be better than that on a foggy, freezing day? But it would be several minutes before I would actually get to try it.

First of all, it was very steamy when it came out, and I wouldn’t be able to taste it if I scalded my tongue. Second, I didn’t want to be tasting it and taking pictures there in the 7-Eleven. Would people be judging me? (I did some judging of my own at 7-Eleven: I was grateful the cashier didn’t touch my cup or give me a receipt because she had just sneezed into her hand. Srsly, people, Dracula sneeze!)

And third, I recently got a new car, so I made it a rule not to eat or drink in it. I put my cup in the cup holder and didn’t touch it until I got to my work’s parking lot.

7 Eleven Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate 3

When I finally tasted it, it had cooled but was still warm. It fulfilled its purpose as hot chocolate: warm, chocolatey, comforting.

Unfortunately, it fulfilled its purpose as Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate in all the wrong ways. The mint flavor was only subtle, and the Oreo flavor was even more subtle. A few sips almost seemed bland. Yet the one way it did seem like an Oreo was in a slimy, oily mouthfeel. It felt like I had a wad of Oreo creme in my mouth, but without the satisfaction of that actually happening. They left out the best part of a Mint Oreo (the flavor) but kept the worst (the post-cookie mouthfeel).

During the cooling period, a lot of the flavor had settled to the bottom, so the last few sips were better than the rest had been. I thought, “Oh, maybe it’s not so bad.” But then it occurred to me: if I had drunk it before the flavor had settled out, it would have been more flavorful than most of my experience, but it still would have been more diluted than the end. As it was, I thought the dregs were on the low end of the flavor I would have liked.

If your car breaks down on a winter’s day and you’re stuck next to a 7-Eleven, the Mint Oreo Hot Chocolate would comfort you against the chill. Otherwise, you’re better off making your own from powder and dropping in a candy cane.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on 7-Eleven’s website.)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 12 oz. cup
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fulfills its purpose as hot chocolate: warm, chocolatey, comforting.
Cons: The mint and Oreo flavors are subtle. Leaves an unpleasant mouthfeel. Less economical than making your own.