REVIEW: White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s

White Pumpkin Pie M M s

These White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s are simply white chocolate with a pumpkin pie flavor. But it got me thinking that a pumpkin pie engulfed in hardened white chocolate would actually be an epic holiday dessert. If you make this, you’re officially invited to my family Thanksgiving.

These M&M’s are your standard specialty M&M’s, slightly larger in size and featuring several different colors. (Side note: Is it me or do M&M’s and Oreo seem to be in a competition for who can create the most flavors? I’m certainly not mad about it. Let’s get Mars and Nabisco in on this, stat.)

White Pumpkin Pie M M s 2

I LOVE all things pumpkin, so I was super PUMPed (see what I did there?) to try these guys. I had my hesitations, of course, because oftentimes I find that food supposedly flavored as pumpkin really just tastes like “fall” (nutmeg, spices, etc.) and not really pumpkin itself. Beer is the perfect example of that. More spice and less pumpkin.

I’m super happy to report that the White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s DO in fact taste like pumpkin pie. But boy, are they sweet. Not in a bad way, just in a “You better be ready for dessert way.” The sweetness becomes more prevalent as you go, and there’s also a nice cinnamon aftertaste to them. I could only eat a small handful each time I opened the bag.

White Pumpkin Pie M M s 3

When I bit into one for a cross-section photo, that’s when I could see the inside looks like white chocolate, which is the first ingredient listed on the bag. (Above anything pumpkin, please note.) Now I’m wondering what white chocolate flavor M&M’s comes up with next…

Anyway, I did like these a lot. So much so that when my husband tried to hijack the bag to take to a work meeting, I immediately stopped him because I enjoyed them so much and wanted the bag for myself. (First rule of marriage: Let your wife have all the candy!) They’re a good fall treat and good for grabbing a quick handful as I enjoy my morning coffee. Now, who’s up for a Pumpkin Beer and White Pumpkin Pie M&M’s tasting?

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz – 210 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 28 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tasty pumpkin flavor, perfect fall treat.
Cons: Too sweet for more than a handful. Should have added “Chocolate” in the product title.

REVIEW: Cookies & Screeem M&M’s

Cookies  Screeem M M s

These Cookies & Screeem M&M’s exemplify a trend I have been noticing in the last few years. In a world inundated with pumpkin, peppermint, and red velvet flavors for holidays, some companies make whatever flavor they feel like and somehow say it’s a holiday version. (I was disappointed last November when I asked for a pumpkin shake at Jack in the Box and their only “seasonal” offering was a Golden Oreo salted caramel shake. What does that have to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas!?) Like last year’s Boo-tterscotch M&Ms, these Cookies & Screeem ones don’t really have anything to do with Halloween.

They’re kind of Halloweeny because they’re black (or dark purple). I guess that’s how they justify it. But it’s still not as Halloweeny as the regular orange and black M&Ms of my childhood. (If my memory serves me right, they added purple and green to the orange and black in 2008, which I thought made them look more Eastery, and they switched to fall colors in 2010.)

Cookies  Screeem M M s 2

These M&M’s consist of a speckled shell, a layer of dark chocolate, and a white chocolate center. That’s all that makes up the “cookies and cream” side of it; if they added other flavors, I can’t detect it, and the ingredients list is too vague. I do think it’s a cool concept to have two kinds of chocolate in one candy.

One of the first things I notice when I eat one is a chemical quality, probably from all the food coloring they used to make them black.

Cookies  Screeem M M s 3

I like dark chocolate M&M’s. I like white chocolate M&M’s. But sometimes two rights make a wrong. These chocolates aren’t terrible, but I feel like the bitterness of the dark clashes with the sweetness of the white. I like the two flavors better when they’re on their own.

The sizes are inconsistent, and I actually like the small ones better. The ratio of dark to white is more enjoyable in the small ones.

I wasn’t able to brush my teeth immediately after trying these, and a few minutes after I had tasted them, I got an aftertaste that tasted like Oreo. That was the closest I got to the cookies and cream experience, and even that was fleeting. I would have liked these a lot more if they followed a traditional cookies and cream approach: white chocolate with crunchy cookie bits.

Will you go through the whole bag? Probably. But this is one of the brand’s weaker offerings.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 16 pieces – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, twenty grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar (including 17 grams of added sugars), and less than 1 gram of sugar.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Cool concept of two chocolates in one candy. Not terrible. At least they’re trying to branch out.
Cons: Chemical flavor. White chocolate and dark chocolate taste better on their own. Doesn’t screeem “Halloween.” Doesn’t screeem “cookies and cream.” Doesn’t screeem “a product that will come back next year.”

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.

M M s Caramel 2

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: Limited Edition Strawberry Nut M&M’s

Limited Edition Strawberry Nut M&M's

One of 2016’s biggest snack breakthroughs was the expansion of the Peanut M&M’s line. America voted between three new flavors, with Coffee Nut coming away the victor.

Coffee Nut got my vote, but really enjoyed Honey Nut, and even found Chili Nut to be a decent and novel idea. Coffee Nut has now become a candy rack mainstay, and it looks like Mars isn’t stopping there. Say hello to Strawberry Nut M&M’s.

I found it at my local Rite Aid. I was in there with intentions of buying a greeting card, which is the most tedious shopping experience known to man, so finding a new Peanut M&M’s flavor was a very pleasant surprise.

The store sold only a “Share Size” bag, which reminded me of my crippling loneliness. Hello darkness, my old friend.

I asked the first woman I saw if she would like to split the bag with me and she proceeded to mace me.

Once the sting wore off, I tore the glossy paper bag open and met a waft of that familiar stale, almost peppery chocolate scent you always get from M&M’s. This time, however, there was a nice underlying strawberry smell.

Limited Edition Strawberry Nut M&M's 3

I’m always fascinated by the color selection when a new M&M’s flavor comes out. With Strawberry Nut you get red for the outside of the strawberry, pink for the inside, and green for the stem. Way to sneak in there, Green. I’m not sure anyone would have felt bad if the stem and leaf of the strawberry weren’t represented in color form, but who knows, people complain about everything these days – present company included. On to the taste!

I’m torn of what I thought of the strawberry flavor here. On one hand, it wasn’t very powerful, so while tossing back a few at a time, it started to taste like I was eating normal Peanut M&M’s. On the other hand, if they did go overboard with the strawberry, it would have been way too sweet and artificial tasting. I guess I’ll never know. I found the strawberry to be quite subtle. It was noticeable, but don’t expect too much.

Limited Edition Strawberry Nut M&M's 4

I did some surgery on a piece with my teeth to isolate the chocolate because I thought the shell and peanut were masking the strawberry flavor, but even that wasn’t all that strawberry-ey(?).

Still, the flavor was nice. That’s the best I can tell ya. If these were in the running last year, I would have ranked them 3rd, just ahead of Chili Nut. I probably wanted more strawberry, but I love Peanut M&M’s, so it’s hard to complain when something tastes like slightly different Peanut M&M’s.

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So, while these weren’t a grand slam, I commend the fine people at Mars. I appreciate them branching out the peanut line, as Peanut M&M’s are FAR superior than regular ones. Instead of giving us twenty regular M&M’s flavors a year, keep pushing this peanut line.

It’s also great to see Mars dive more and more into the fruit world. I know they made Cherry M&M’s, so here’s hoping Cherry Nut isn’t too far off. As a lover of those chocolate oranges, I’d be all for an Orange Nut. (don’t say “go nuts,” don’t say “go nuts.”) Go Bananas!

Oh, Banana Nut!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 pack (46 g) – 240 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 3.27 oz. bag
Purchased at: Rite Aid
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The more Peanut M&M’s the better. Strawberry isn’t crazy powerful, but it’s there. M&M fruit flavors. A potential sign of more flavors to come? Gimmie Banana Nut!
Cons: I probably would have picked these third in the new flavor contest. No one to share your Share Size bag with. Limited Edition. Greeting cards are awful. Macing is no laughing matter.

REVIEW: Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s

Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s

The trouble with vanilla cupcake flavor is — just what IS it? Is it simply a marketing ploy because vanilla is “too boring” on its own? What exactly is added to a vanilla item to make it taste like a cupcake? If you asked me what a vanilla cupcake tastes like, I’d say vanilla – in which case, does it need any additions to make it taste like a cupcake? It feels like I’m lost in a hall of mirrors.

Enter Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s. I hoped they would solve this existential crisis for me, since Hershey’s Cupcake Kisses fell short on that task.

Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s 2

The purple & polka dot theme of the packaging is attractive, but I’m not sure I would’ve chosen the Green M&M character for this bag. Cupcakes are fun and silly – the “sexy” M&M (insert eye roll here) vamping seems out of place here. Yellow’s goofy personality would be a better fit. And it would fill my head with J.K. Simmons’ voice saying “Beecher, want a vanilla cupcake?”

The aroma inside the bag was 80 percent vanilla, 20 percent…something else. Something I imagine is meant to remind one of frosting, but comes off as a chemical-y approximation.

Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s 3

The intense pastel hues of these M&M’s made my eyes very happy. They definitely belong in a cute bowl on display next to a bouquet of spring flowers.

Inside, these are the white chocolate/candy coating base we’ve seen in other recent flavor releases like White Cheesecake and Boo-terscotch.

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If given a blind taste test of these M&M’s, I would swear they were vanilla milkshake flavored. I picked up on the strong vanilla flavor and I got the milky white chocolate, but the essence of “cupcake” evaded me. The frosting-esque smell didn’t carry over to the taste buds, either.

Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s 5

So did these M&Ms fail at capturing that certain cupcake je ne sais quoi? Or were they right on target, since they tasted like vanilla – exactly as a vanilla cupcake would? I DON’T KNOW!

What I do know is they were delicious and I promptly ate the entire bag. If you like white chocolate M&M’s – and can ponder vanilla cupcake philosophy better than I – give these a go.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz – 210 calories, 100 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.55 (on sale)
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Beautiful, happy spring colors. Strong vanilla milk flavor.
Cons: A vanilla cupcake this is not. (Or is it?? My head hurts.)