REVIEW: Chocolate Frosted Donut Kit Kat

Certain snacks just lend themselves to being successfully changed up in a multitude of ways without affecting what makes them great in the first place. The humble Kit Kat is a perfect example of this. At its core, it’s just wafers and chocolate; classic and delicious but also beckoning to be dressed up in as many styles as you can think of. Japan knows this and has seen hundreds of variations, but things have been played a little closer to the vest here in America. In the last few years, however, the Hershey factory has gotten more adventurous, and we’ve seen quite a few new takes on the “Give Me a Break” treat. The latest edition is Chocolate Frosted Donut, a permanent addition to the lineup.

The packaging and appearance of these Kit Kats delight me. Like the Duos flavors, this one is two-toned with a tan base and brown chocolate top, neatly mimicking its donut namesake. The smell is sweet and buttery, and while it doesn’t exactly scream “donut” to me, it’s certainly bakery-esque. It leans a little sweeter than a standard chocolate Kit Kat and the “frosted” flavor rings true. If I blindly tasted the bar, I think my guess would have been along the lines of cake and frosting, but obviously not the birthday cake flavor that already exists in Kit Kat form.

When I picture eating a donut, the ring I see myself holding is of the yeast variety, so it’s possible my expectations might have just been a bit off. Perhaps the reason these remind me of cake is because they’re supposed to taste like a cake donut. Maybe instead of screaming “donut,” what they were actually whispering was “duh.” Part of the magic of a freshly made yeast donut is in the fried factor and the airy-chewy texture, both of which would be difficult to replicate in a candy bar so heavily centered around crispy wafers. But there’s nothing wrong with a cake donut, and if I ignore the fried and yeasted aspects I typically associate with donuts, I’m more willing to believe these Kit Kats can call themselves donut-flavored.

Whether or not these truly taste like a donut, they are enjoyable, and I would have no problem eating them again. Unfortunately, they aren’t as delicious, unique, or well-executed as the excellent Blueberry Muffin Kit Kat, so I’m not sure why this one was chosen for permanent status. They’re certainly worth trying and a nice change of pace, but I don’t feel the need to rush out and grab a dozen.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: 3 oz (King Size package)
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (3 fingers – 32 g) 160 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 16 grams of total sugar (including 15 grams of added sugars), and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Reese’s Caramel Big Cup

While I love The Impulsive Buy for padding my grocery list with fun new items, I also value it as a historical record of all the products I’ve loved before (or never got to try or barely remember).

Digging into the archives reminded me that a Reese’s Caramel Cup once existed circa 2005. But that was then, and now it’s time for an upgrade. After recent varieties filled with such treats as salty snacks, candy pieces, and cereal, Reese’s Big Cup is embracing caramel, that candy bar classic. Combining a layer of caramel with its quintessential peanut butter filling, Reese’s Caramel Big Cup is available in standard or King Size packages.

Knowing what to expect from a standard Big Cup, I was most interested in the caramel element. A slim layer sits at the bottom of the cup, beneath the generous peanut butter core. It’s smooth and loosely textured, but not runny. When I cut the Big Cup in half with a knife, the caramel reminded me of jarred caramel ice cream topping: it is soft enough to coat parts of the blade, but not so thin as to be messy. Yes, I did feel like Sweeney Todd in this moment if he were either very hungry for a sweet treat or just trying his best to transfer his dark urges to something more wholesome.

There seems to be a very thin layer of chocolate separating the peanut butter and caramel, so the two don’t mix together too much. It’s possible to taste them separately. The caramel is sweet, buttery, and soft. You don’t get the chew of a Twix or Snickers caramel here. When all elements combine, the caramel gets a little lost, but it enhances the Big Cup’s sweetness. Overall, the Big Cup tastes like a regular Reese’s, just sweeter. The Big Cup is a good vehicle for caramel because it provides a solid structure to encase what is often a messy ingredient. If the cup had dedicated a tad more space to it, the caramel’s buttery tones might have harmonized more equally with the peanut butter flavor.

Without the historical archives of The Impulsive Buy, I might not remember the Reese’s Caramel Big Cup in ten years’ time. (That Great Gatsby-level of pining is reserved for the Elvis Peanut Butter and Banana Creme Reese’s Cup, thank you very much!) But for now, it’s a nice, slightly sweeter variation that I may pick up next time my sweet tooth goes into overdrive.

Purchased Price: $2.28
Purchased at: Walmart
Size: 2.8 oz (79 g) King Size package
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per 1 cup) 190 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: White Chocolate Toasty Vanilla M&M’s

Vanilla has a PR problem. Not just a flavor, vanilla is often used as a pejorative adjective meaning “ordinary, conventional, or plain.” Something referred to as “vanilla” can be unadventurous, bland, or boring. After all it has done for us, does vanilla deserve such disrespect?

Maybe due to the word’s connection, I can’t think of many candies that prominently advertise vanilla as a major flavor. Enter M&M’s to make the ordinary special with White Chocolate Toasty Vanilla M&M’s, this year’s seasonal offering from the brand. When I discovered the product, I had questions: Is a vanilla M&M just a white chocolate M&M wearing a different label? What makes it toasty? What is the M&M on the package drinking, and where can I get one?

If the cure for boredom is curiosity, tasting the White Chocolate Toasty M&M’s may cure your assumption that vanilla is a dull flavor. Unlike some white chocolate, the M&M’s core is not merely sweet and definitely not cloying. There is real vanilla flavor that enjoys a certain degree of complexity, similar to the taste of vanilla bean ice cream.

However, that comparison isn’t perfect because of the M&M’s added “toastiness.” To me, this comes through as a subtle hint of cinnamon. (For inquiring minds, the ingredients list offers only “natural and artificial flavors,” with no mention of vanilla or any kind of spice.) When I opened the bag, the aroma reminded me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but the flavor wasn’t nearly as heavy on spice. Think leftover cinnamilk – if you love to douse your cereal, that is – with an added hit of vanilla, or even a subtly-spiced horchata. Together, the flavors melt into a rich, creamy concoction that probably tastes similar to whatever Green M&M is drinking on the package. The only unsolved mystery of this seasonal treat: will she share her recipe?

If you use seasonal M&M’s for your holiday treats, please note that these M&M’s are on the large side and colored white, beige, and brown. The candy shell shades may not have a standard holiday or winter color scheme, but they will remind you to double-check your toaster dial at breakfast tomorrow.

Even if you typically bypass vanilla for bolder flavors, don’t mistake White Chocolate Toasty Vanilla M&M’s for boring or ordinary. The depth of vanilla flavor, enhanced by a hint of toasty warm spice, tastes like coziness wrapped in a candy shell, proving one thing: It’s okay to be vanilla, but it’s even better to be toasty vanilla.

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 2.47 oz (70 g) Share Size bag
Purchased at: Sheetz
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (per half pack/35 g) 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Sour Patch Kids Apple Harvest

In August, I feverishly go from store to store, trying to find new Halloween/fall products to review for this site. I know all the grocery stores near my home and my places of employment.

Oddly enough, I couldn’t find these Sour Patch Kids Apple Harvest at any of the usual stores. Instead, after a random tip in my Facebook feed, I finally found them at Michael’s, of all places.

New candy seems out of place at a craft store. But this particular candy also seems out of place with the Sour Patch Kids moniker.

These apple-shaped pieces come in three flavors: cranberry apple (red), apple cider (tan), and caramel apple (green).

The most startling thing to me is that these are nowhere near as sour as regular Sour Patch Kids. They’re mildly sour, but not very much. They also are not nearly as colorful as regular SPK. I wondered if they might have used natural colors, but nope, there on the ingredients list are Yellow 5, Red 40, and Blue 1. And I do think they’re softer than regular SPK, so there’s less of a jaw workout.

As for the flavors, cranberry apple really does taste like cranberry. There’s a mild bitterness that you might expect in cranberry sauce, but the apple makes it less pronounced. Apple cider tastes most authentic and has the most noticeable apple flavor. And caramel apple has a strong caramel flavor, albeit an artificial one.

Look, I really want to love these. They feel like a more sophisticated version of SPK. And yet, they just aren’t as good. They fit with the apple-scented potpourri or candles you might find at a craft store. They need to be more sour. As is, they’re just a generic apple candy.

These are called Sour Patch Kids, but they are neither Sour nor Kids. That leaves us with Patch. But that doesn’t work either because apples grow in orchards, not patches.

I feel like Michael’s is an expensive place to buy candy. If you want to try these, wait until they make their way to a cheaper store. They’re just not worth Michael’s prices.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 10 oz bag
Purchased at: Michael’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (9 pieces) 120 calories, 0 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 25 grams of sugar (including 25 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Snickers Butterscotch Scoop

One scoop or two? One square or two?

For Snickers fans this summer, these questions are practically one and the same. After the reappearance of its Rockin’ Nut Road flavor, Snickers has released a new candy inspired by the ice cream parlor: Butterscotch Scoop, a limited edition flavor exclusive to Walmart stores.

Snickers Butterscotch Scoop consists of peanuts, caramel, and butterscotch-flavored nougat enrobed in a milk chocolate coating. It is available as a single-size pack, which includes twin confectionary squares, or a stand-up pouch with fun size bars.

As someone who will choose butterscotch for her sundae topping nine times out of ten, I was thrilled to see Snickers honor this underrated sweet. Outside of ice cream, pudding, and the candy dishes of the elderly, butterscotch is a goldmine of unfulfilled junk food potential. Additionally, as someone whose local ice cream shops do not offer butterscotch at least seven times out of ten, I feared that my experience with this Snickers would remind me of these failed searches, which inevitably end with the bitter taste of melted hope dripping on my sneakers.

The unwrapped Snickers smelled exactly like an ice cream parlor, that buttery vanilla scent eliciting visions of waffle cones and sprinkles. As much as I love the familiar formula of a Snickers bar, I only had eyes and taste buds in that moment for the butterscotch-flavored nougat. The star of the bar didn’t disappoint. It tasted like the butterscotch of my dashed summer ice cream stand dreams, a perfect medley of brown sugar and butter flavors. Contrary to my expectations, the nougat wasn’t sweeter than what you’d find in a standard Snickers. Avoiding the syrupy sweetness sometimes associated with butterscotch contributes to the bar’s success.

The milk chocolate, peanuts, and caramel are obviously treasures in their own right, and we know we cannot love Snickers without loving them. I do think the Snickers Butterscotch Scoop would have benefited from fewer or smaller peanut pieces. Although their crunch is wonderful, the peanuts sometimes overpowered the butterscotch flavor. Peanut lovers may disagree here, but those who do are probably lucky enough to live near ice cream parlors that do not deprive them of butterscotch. I examined two bars (with two squares per bar, that’s four squares total, for anyone who is still in summer school), and each piece had a similar ratio of fillings. I’d be interested to know if the fun size bars are structured the same way, or if they privilege the nougat.

Despite this minor gripe, my answer to the question posed at the beginning of this review is, “Two, please!” Snickers Butterscotch Scoop is a deliciously buttery sweet twist on the original bar. This fan will banish butterscotch hard candies from her candy dish indefinitely for another scoop of Snickers.

Purchased Price: $1.24
Size: 1.41 oz (40 g) bar
Purchased at: Walmart (store exclusive)
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 22 grams of sugar (including 20 grams of added sugar), and 4 grams of protein.