REVIEW: Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

1 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Christmas Creep is bad, right?

No one wants to see ornaments and stocking stuffers out on display in October. It’s a silent judgement — haven’t you thought about what you’re getting Aunt Mary yet? What’s taking you so long? All this great stuff will be gone by the time you start shopping after Thanksgiving.

But Christmas Candy Creep is A-OK by me! I love walking into a store on November 1st to find Halloween candy on clearance AND a full selection of holiday treats ripe for the picking. So after checking out the 80 percent off Halloween Pop-Tarts to my left, I was delighted to see a brandy-new tower of Oreo Candy Canes on my right. I’ve been waiting for you, my pretties. Come sit with me by the fire.

2 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Visually, these candy canes fit the bill. Brown and white stripes mimic the shades of Oreo cookies & filling perfectly. These would look great on a table display with muted tones, but perhaps not the best for tree decorating – stick with the white/bright colors for contrast.

3 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Inside the package, there was no aroma. After shedding the individual wrappings, the canes themselves sported a prominent chocolate scent. It was identifiable as “Oreo,” but not authentic Oreo. It was more like a Bonnie-Bell-Lip-Smackers version of Oreo. Not unpleasant, but you won’t forget you’re consuming an approximation of that famous cookie.

4 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Moving onto taste. I regret to inform you there isn’t really any. A few licks in, I suspected the taste and smell were one in the same, so I did the old “hold your nose while you eat” test. All hint of Oreo disappeared. It was just a sugary stick. Since most of us (myself included) experience food with our eyes, nose, and mouth, I didn’t consider this a deal breaker, just a bit of a bummer. If you’re smell-challenged, however, don’t bother with these. Instead of “Oreo flavored,” these should probably be called “Oreo scented.”

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, you can fashion them into the traditional holiday weapon of childhood – the candy cane shiv.

5 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

Overall, they’re a fun change from the usual candy cane offerings – particularly for Oreo fanatics. I enjoyed them, but these were a “one-and-done” choice. I don’t think I’d get them again. 

But since I’m in holiday craft warm-up mode, I wanted to use these in a gingerbread house project. Six sheets of graham crackers (cut with a serrated knife), a cup of Oreo minis, some royal icing cement and you’ve got the basic structure. 

6 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

One Oreo candy cane makes the door frame and roof topping. Two canes (crushed with a rolling pin) make the gravel around the house. Throw in some icing dots and hearts and voila! You’ve got yourself an Oreo holiday house!

7 Spangler Oreo Candy Canes

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cane – 45 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of total sugars, 9 grams of added sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 5.3 oz. box (12 candy canes)
Purchased at: Tops
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Fun gift or snack for Oreo fanatics. Great addition to holiday food displays and crafts. Strong “Oreo” aroma.
Cons: Had to put quotes on “Oreo” aroma. Smell definitely came to the party, but didn’t bring its friend flavor.

REVIEW: Cough Drop Kit Kat (Japan)

Cough Drop Kit Kat

If I ever need a cough drop to soothe my throat because I cheered loudly when my favorite team scored a touchdown/run/goal/basket/eight-ender or because I screamed, “WHAAAAAT!?” after learning about a cough drop-flavored candy bar, the Cough Drop Kit Kat will not be of any help.

The odd, new confection from Japan is called Kit Kat Nodo Ame Aji, which translates to Kit Kat Cough Drop Flavor. The candy gets its lozengeness from ground cough drop powder that’s been added to the white chocolate.

As you can see below, the pack I bought from eBay didn’t do well during its two-week inter-Pacific trek from Japan. The iconic Kit Kat fingers are almost indistinguishable and the white chocolate looks as if it was melted throughout most of its journey. While it looks like congealed bacon grease logs, the white chocolate has a pleasant peppermint-like aroma. But once I broke off a piece of that Kit Kat bar, an odd stale aroma made its way up my nose, which worried me.

Cough Drop Kit Kat 2

The candy tastes like a generic menthol cough drop, and at times it reminds me of a York Peppermint Pattie, but it’s mild. There’s even a slight cooling sensation, which brought a “Holy crap! That’s awesome!” smile to my face. It’s not even close to being nostril clearing or throat soothing as an actual cough drop, so I’m 99.9 percent sure it won’t help after being hoarse from cheering on an eight-ender.

But while tasting it, I began to wonder if being locked up for thousands of miles on a boat affected its flavor because there were brief moments when my taste buds noticed a harsh flavor that I’ve only experienced when accidentally biting into stale foods. (It happens to me more than you’d think. I don’t read IKEA instructions or check my foods to see if they’re stale.) But I can’t help but think it’s part of the cough drop flavor, because, you know, Japan.

If the Kit Kat had a menthol flavor with a cooling sensation, I’d be into that kinky culinary combo, but that stale flavor, even though it’s very mild and fleeting, gives me pause.

Having tried dozens of odd Japanese Kit Kat flavors, like wasabi, soy sauce, butter, and ginger, I have to say Kit Kat Nodo Ame Aji is the least pleasing Japanese Kit Kat I’ve ever tasted.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 65 kcal, 0.41 grams of protein, 3.7 grams of fat, 7.4 grams of carbohydrates, and 2-7 milligrams of sodium.)

Purchased Price: $5.99*
Size: 3-pack
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Another weird Kit Kat flavor from Japan. At times, it tastes like a York Peppermint Pattie. Cooling sensation is neat.
Cons: Weird stale flavor. Sending chocolate via slow mail.

*Bought it on eBay from a seller in Japan. It costs much less in the store.

REVIEW: Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat

Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat

Now I know why the eyes on the black cat on the packaging of these Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat are so wide open. At first, I imagined it was high from snorting off of that pumpkin pie a line of crushed eye of newt it stole from its witch.

But after trying the candy, I realized it’s not because of dried amphibian bodies that have gone through a pestle and mortar and then through a feline nasal cavity. It’s because the black cat tried the candy and had its kitty mind blown by how good it is.

Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat 2

The Kit Kat fingers look as if they’re caramel or dulce de leche-flavored, but they smell straight up pumpkin pie or like I’ve walked into the fall section at my local Target.

According to the thousands of recipes Google spits back at me after plugging in “pumpkin pie” in its search box, the common spices in one are cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Those aren’t listed in the ingredients for this candy. Instead, there’s “natural flavor and artificial flavor.” I’m not sure what’s natural or artificial, but, geez, the first bar I ate had a spice kick I was not expecting. Although, my taste buds have gotten used to it because every bar I’ve had since hasn’t been as intense.

Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat 3a

Having tried so many pumpkin spice/pumpkin pie-flavored products that I’m surprised I don’t smell spicy, I thought it would have a strong cinnamon flavor, followed by the other spices. That would’ve been great. But, nope, the cinnamon flavor takes a back seat to the ginger and nutmeg, which is also great. Because of the elevated ginger flavor, there are moments when the candy bar reminds me of a ginger snap cookie. But for the most part, it smells and tastes like pumpkin pie.

But, the weird thing is, while I enjoy it very much and it’s the best tasting limited edition U.S. Kit Kat flavor I’ve had, I don’t feel compelled to eat the printed serving size, which is three two-piece bars. I’ll devour two fingers, let out a couple of food pleasure moans, lick off whatever creme melted onto my fingers, rub my tummy, and then I’m good.

But overall, you’re right black cat on the packaging, Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat is eye-popping wonderful.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 two-piece bars – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: Purchased on eBay so I paid more than I should
Size: 9.8 oz. bag
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smells and tastes like pumpkin pie. Also, at times, taste like a ginger snap cookie. It’s the best limited edition U.S. Kit Kat I’ve ever had.
Cons: Don’t feel compelled to eat the printed serving size. Snorting crushed eye of newt.

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: Reese’s Stuffed with Crunchy Cookie Cups

Reese s Cookie Crunch Cups

I want a chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

But, sadly, while the insides of a Reese’s Crunchy Cookie Cup look like a chocolate chip cookie, it’s the same peanut butter studded with bits of chocolate cookies (think Oreo).

Announced back in March as part of Reese’s CUPfusion rebrand to CUPspiracy, this cookie iteration follows the Reese’s Pieces Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups. Like the Pieces version, these look exactly like the regular cups on the outside. The ones I had looked like they had a rough going with the summer heat and the sun won, so they weren’t the typical smooth and round cups.

Reese s Cookie Crunch Cups 2

?The Reese’s food scientists must have heard my fellow TIB food reviewer’s gripes about the Pieces’ lack of texture in its stuffed peanut butter cups, because they turned it all the way up this time. But, that’s all it offers.

Reese s Cookie Crunch Cups 3

I was disappointed to find that it mostly tasted like a regular cup. I found the lingering chocolate peanut butter aftertaste to be a tad bit saltier than usual, which is the cookie bits doing. As a habitual ice chewer, I enjoy crunchy textures but I expected so much more than JUST texture and an ever so slight taste difference.

Like a looping slow-motion replay on a contentious referee call, I ate cup after cup for a total of four cups just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. I had little bites and big bites with swishes of water in between to cleanse my palate. Unfortunately, I came to the same conclusion…four times. Cue the sad trombone because we’ve all been played by the Reese’s marketing team.

While the chocolate cookie bits don’t provide much flavor, if you’re a Reese’s diehard like I am, you’ll still get to enjoy the classic peanut butter and chocolate combination. And that’s better than nothing.

But for now, I shall continue to wait for my something — a chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cups – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.59
Size: 1.4 oz/2 cups
Purchased at: 76 Gas Station
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Texture! It still tastes like a good ol’ Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Cons: The only difference is the texture. I want a whole chocolate chip cookie stuffed in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

REVIEW: Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar

Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar

This bar I bite fills me with fright!

*clap clap clap clap*

Deep in the heart of Texas!

I guess it’s more like right on the coast of Jersey, where I was finally able to track one of these Frankenstein monsters down.

What in the holy hell is this thing? BBQ peanuts and caramel? Not since Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips have I been so fearfully intrigued by a new snack concoction.

The Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay is one of Hershey’s new Flavors of America candy bars. Calling this “candy” is definitely a bit of a stretch. Then again, PayDay was probably never at the top of your “candy” crave list anyway, now was it?

When was the last time you bought one? It’s been a while for me. I feel like I haven’t bought one since the limited honey roasted version was on shelves. Regular PayDays are fine, but what’s the point of getting one when you can just get a Snickers or something? Very rarely will I NOT want chocolate.

Honey roasted peanuts will get me to buy anything though. They are criminally underutilized. Will I feel the same about BBQ peanuts? That’s the question of the day.

Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar 3

Aesthetically, PayDay is one of the least appetizing candy bars to look at. I won’t go into detail why, but you can use your imagination. This one looks just like a normal one caked in Doritos dust.

The bar smelled like a sweet BBQ sauce, but that was expected. BBQ based products usually hit the mark in the olfactory department.

To start I plucked a few peanuts off and ate them solo. They ticked all the BBQ sauce boxes you’d want them to – nice smoky flavor, not too spicy, not too salty, and a bit tang. I’d eat a bag of these.

So, the BBQ element was on point, now was time to bite the proverbial bullet.

It was weird, but I already knew it would be. “Weird” is not always a bad thing.

Flavor of Texas BBQ PayDay Bar 4

The caramel bar isn’t overly sweet, so there wasn’t the Civil War battle of opposing flavors in my mouth that I anticipated. The BBQ flavor was more prominent on the peanuts alone. When mixed with the sweet caramel element this tasted a little like molasses I guess? I had trouble pinpointing it exactly. I guess this was like a sweet BBQ sauce with a molasses or maple syrup mixed in for sweetness. I think that was what they were going for, and they definitely succeeded.

While the overall flavor was solid, this was a textural treat more than anything. The peanuts were as fresh as I could’ve hoped for, and had a good overall bite to them. I’ve always appreciated the center of a PayDay being closer to nougat than regular caramel, so it’s never too sticky. They married perfectly.

Texas BBQ PayDay is a weird and ambitious effort from Hershey’s. I won’t pretend I’m aching to try it again, but I’d recommend giving it a shot. Maybe there’s a brave soul out there who might want to melt chocolate over this bad boy and really go for broke. I imagine that’d be a major test for the taste buds, but hey if this ain’t bad, that may be great.

So yeah, if you want to try a funky unorthodox snack, this is probably for you. If not, there are five other Flavors of America available from Hershey’s. Hit the road.

(Nutrition Facts – 230 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 83 cents
Size: 1.85 oz. bar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Texture was perfection. Not too salty, spicy, or sweet. Ambitious. The price was right. I dig the Flavors of America line.
Cons: Maybe a little too ambitious? Chocolate or Honey Roasted PayDays not being a year round candy options. No famous BBQ sauce brand tie-in as far as I can tell.