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M&M’s Marathon

06 Oct

A bag of M&M’s is like a bunch of little engines that could, mustering through as you crush their feeble little lives away.  Individually they’re among the smaller candies, but even with the same flavor per bag they consistently work some (black) magic.  Skittles might have variety going for them, but would you still eat a whole bag if they were all grape flavored?  I know I wouldn’t.

I haven’t been much of a candy eater as of late, but with Fall in session it means us Americans can feel less guilty about our sweet tooth fetish.  As much as anyone likes M&M’s, I tend to regard them as more of a (dessert) mixer.  Ice cream, cookies and a thick cake perhaps; that’s where the real M&M magic can be worked.  But we’re not here to mix M&M’s, we’re just here to eat M&M’s.  Today we have eight varieties and, to avoid cluttering, I’m going to forgo nutritional information.  Besides, who cares about nutrition when tossing bite-size sugar bombs over your greedy little tongues?

M&M’s Milk Chocolate

First up we have the classic M&M’s Milk Chocolate in the instantly (and boringly) identifiable dark brown bag.  The great thing about M&M’s is that even their thin shells seem to keep the chocolate intact, almost completely eliminating the possibility of a melted bag.

What makes these little buggers work is the crunchiness of the shell combined with the chocolate filling melting around your teeth.  It’s a tried and true consistency that, while very basic, remains fulfilling when you’re craving a simple treat.  Unlike a standard Hershey bar where your mouth has to act as an oven to melt the bar until you’re bored of the taste, these are more about instant gratification.

In Short: Sometimes all you need is something basic.

M&M’s Peanut

Next up is the other key staple in Mars’ M&M’s line up: M&M’s Peanut.  Anyone who knew me through high school knew that I was completely adamant about any form of nut.  Anyone who put nuts on my brownies might as well put them back in the oven until they burnt.  As such, Peanut M&M’s were irrelevant to me; they could’ve been discontinued and I’d have been content.

Since then I’ve grown more of an enjoyment for peanuts.  In fact, I’m surprised at just how addicting they can get.  Peanuts seem to go away very fast, just like bite-size candies.  I guess that’s the point of Peanut M&M’s: Bite-size snacks to leave you hungry and wondering where the hell your money went.  These are also the largest of the M&M’s I tried for this blog, so there are far less per bag, which again only screams inherent disappointment.

Taking a bite, I get the impression more chocolate wants to come out, but the peanut blocks it.  I think many guys have had a similar experience, whether or not you’re a virgin (leave me alone).  Many types of nuts have a nice, salty taste to them, so the sweet and salty factor should work here.  Maybe not to classic status like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but something to a similar effect.  This is not the case.

That said, given how much the peanut takes up, I’m actually surprised at how much of a chocolate layer there is.  Going through more I’ve found that it varies a bit, but I still think the potential and magic of Peanut M&M’s remains lost with Harry Potter’s relatives.

In Short: I’ll eat them, but I won’t buy them.

M&M’s Peanut Butter

As I said, peanuts were never really to my liking as a kid.  Peanut butter, on the other hand, was the nectar of the gods.  Before I can even literally remember, peanut butter was essentially my source of protein since I apparently avoided meats like the plague.  I’m just glad that part didn’t become a piece of foreshadowing for my future.  And since we all know that peanut butter goes with chocolate like cars and overpriced maintenance, M&M’s Peanut Butter was definitely among my most highly anticipated variants.

So I had to remind myself going in…what’s the difference between these and Reese’s Pieces?  Just that the shells have more color variety?  Bring up the medal for Mars, everyone!  To my surprise, these are quite bigger than regular M&M’s and even Reese’s Pieces.  And yes, I did try some of those not long before this blog as part of an (un)intentional reference.

These M&M’s nail the sweetness of chocolate and peanut butter building off of each other to a satisfying end, but for some reason they don’t quite have that sweet magic Reese’s Pieces do.  And since these are bigger, that’s a bit of an issue.  Even more so is that you can enjoy more Pieces for about the same (if not less) guilt of the M&M’s Peanut Butter.  Still a good candy, but if you have a choice, go for the true Pieces.

In Short: Good but inferior.

M&M’s Pretzel

We’re already working with the salty and sweet magic of M&M’s and peanut butter, so what other option did Mars have to give us?  Pretzels, of course!  As a kid I loved pretzels.  At least, the fresh and soft ones with plenty of salt, anyway.  Hard, store bought pretzels are just weak.  They’re a step above standard potato chips in that you don’t feel totally guilty eating them, but that’s not saying much.  Scratch that, they’re TWO steps above potato chips.  You know why?  Because there’s less air per bag and more solidified empty calories.  Suck it, Lays!

Chocolate covered pretzels seem to be a bit of an unsung classic combo nowadays.  I’ve already taken big notice of them in the seasonal desert sections of supermarkets, but never see anyone buy them.  I even made some white chocolate covered pretzels to snack on in college, using melted Hershey’s Bliss.  They tasted great, but I had to be kept in the fridge to avoid melting.  Why white chocolate?  Because Flipz, the most recognizable brand in chocolate covered pretzels to this kid’s mind, have amazing white chocolate covered pretzels, but the regular chocolate version literally tastes like wood.

Hopefully Mars and M&M’s can handle regular chocolate on their pretzels a bit better.

While these are about half to two-thirds the size of a Peanut M&M and have even less pieces per bag, these are easily the best option for the more nutritiously discerning buyer.  You get less than 200 calories and less than 20 grams of sugar per bag, which isn’t a bad snack while on a boring register shift.

Taking a half bite to see the ratio, it’s a similar story to the Peanut M&M’s, except the chocolate seems to play a bigger role here.  I want to say that has to do with the fact pretzels are less tightly packed, if you will, than peanuts.  As such, the chocolate is able to seep through and compliment the faint saltiness.  The crunchiness feels just right too, since the pretzel bite crumbles apart and continues to mix with the melting chocolate.  It’s a very pleasant experience.

In Short: Gives the oldies a run for their money (and flavor).

Coconut M&M’s

Mars really like to play inconsistent games with me.  Peanuts and pretzels?  Whatever.  Peanut butter?  Hellz yeah!  Coconut?  Might as well give me a side of asparagus.

That’s a bit much, but if there’s one flavor from my childhood I haven’t had too much of a change of heart in, it’s coconut.  I always found it incredibly bland and, to put in the words of one of this century’s best characters, “I hate coconut, not the taste, the consistency.”  Coconut is pretty much a less awesome version of dark chocolate in that I’ll only tolerate it if mixed with something very good.  Speaking of which, that’s a pretty decent combo for two unremarkable flavors.

Something that makes me sad about this M&M marathon is that it’s taken this long to get to a white M&M.  I guess it’s true, racism is A-okay whenever directed at whites.  Something else I’ve noticed is that all the other M&M’s are bigger than the traditional ones, even if they use a basic flavor enhancer.

And when I say basic, I mean basic: The coconut doesn’t play very much of a role here, being the recessive flavor.  In other words, I actually kind of dig it.  Part of the problem with my general coconut experience is that any time I try it, it’s the dominant flavor.  I’d rather it be secondary or used only for an aftertaste, which it does here.  If you love coconut, you’ll probably be underwhelmed.  If you don’t like coconut but are feeling adventurous, these might be worth a shot.

In Short: These work some reverse logic on you.

Mint Chocolate M&M’s

Once again, Mars have pulled the rug underneath my aching feet.  Except this time I anticipate a soft landing into ice cream rather than a bloody concussion on my forehead.  Why ice cream?  Because mint chocolate chip was always my go-to flavor as–you guessed it–a kid.  So imagine my excitement upon seeing the Mint Chocolate M&M’s.

Like peanut butter and pretzels, mint and chocolate are among the best of the classic flavor combinations.  You could make a good contest for which seems to mix better, peanut butter with chocolate or mint with chocolate.  But my excitement came to a “whoa, whoa” when I saw these M&M’s use dark chocolate instead of the standard milk chocolate.  The milky lover in me is feeling very wary.

Like the other M&M flavors, these are considerably larger than regular M&M’s.  It’s like flavors are to M&M’s as steroids are to humans.  Arrogant candy sibling jerks.  But the point at hand is the candy and, similar to the coconut flavor, the mint here takes a backseat to the chocolate, which in my case is less fulfilling than I’d like it to be.  That said, the aftertaste is more pronounced, so I’m left clinging to the mint flavor more than the coconut.  This is a nice combination that I’m sure fellow mint and chocolate lovers will like, but it ultimately leaves too much of a so-so impression.

In Short: You’re better off with a pint (or gallon) of ice cream.

Candy Corn M&M’s

And finally we have what I’m sure half my tiny selection of readers will consider the true rotten apple of M&M’s in the candy corn flavor.  Unlike all the others, this one is made with white chocolate.  I suppose this is to better compliment the aforementioned flavor.  I don’t know, has anyone tried candy corn dipped in milk chocolate?  Japan ought to know, they get all the awesome stuff first.

For reference, I have Brach’s candy corn to compare these too.  As far as I’m concerned, candy corn receives way too much hate.  I’d be lying if I said it’s spectacular, but there are far worse crimes, even in the candy world.  Those who say candy corn is something that keeps life from being good should stomach their way through a Hershey’s Air “Delight” bar and then tell me how cruel the world really is.

Candy corn itself has a subtle build up of mellow cream-like sugar that seems to get sweeter the more you chew it, which makes for a surprisingly enjoyable treat.  That is, in moderation of course.

There are various variants of the picture used on Candy Corn M&M wrappers for our red M&M friend; mine doesn’t seem too happy.  I’m nervous.  Taking these buggers out of the bag, it’s all but confirmed that every non-traditional M&M flavor wants to make the Milk Chocolate M&M’s seem anorexic.  Hey, America loves special flavors and we’re the fattest country in the world, it’s only fitting!

Taking a half bite to see the inside, it’s completely white, a big contrast to the dark brown of chocolate.  After looking at so much chocolate, I’m surprised by just how interesting a creamy white color can be.  As for the taste?  I definitely pick up the white chocolate, which is a nice plus for me.  The candy corn flavor itself?  Just like the mint and coconut flavors–a mild to moderate aftertaste.  What I like about these is that they’re the creamiest of the M&M’s, which is fitting given the fat and sugar inducing double whammy of Fall and Winter is upon us.  Will candy corn lovers enjoy this?  Maybe, but I think most anyone who likes white chocolate can dig these.

In Short: You might be (pleasantly) surprised.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Blog, Candy, Food, Review

 

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