Pretzel M&Ms + and Giveaway!

Pretzel M&Ms are the newest addition to the M&Ms lineup. Unlike many of the other M&Ms varieties that I’ve reviewed in the past, these look to be a semi-permanent, non-limited edition addition. I got to try them out for free via the NCA and also via some M&Ms PR people.

Pretzel M&Ms

Please note the cute and clever pretzel X-ray. There are only 150 calories per bag, but my bag only had 16 M&Ms. They are, however, significantly larger than regular M&Ms.

These guys are irregularly sized spheres, each with a little pretzel nugget in the center, which is then surrounded by a thin layer of M&Ms milk chocolate and coated with the M&Ms candy shell.

Pretzel M&Ms

The bag called them “crunchy, salty, sweet”, and that’s just what they were. Each one packed a substantial crunch, partly from the candy shell but mostly from the pretzel nugget inside.

The pretzel brings a salty hit to the treat which lingers after the M&M is gone. The chocolate is mostly just sweet in the back of the throat. It contrasts well with the starchy saltiness of the pretzel.

Pretzel M&Ms

What’s the verdict?

At first, I found them a bit too dry, and they made me miss the airiness of the now-defunct crispy M&Ms. But that dryness made me want to pop a second as a chaser, and then a third, and before I knew it, the whole bag was gone.

Pretzel M&Ms are sneakily poppable, thanks to a winning combination of sweet and salty. An OM!

If you’d like to try them for yourself, they’re slowly being released around the country. M&Ms has a Facebook app to help you track where they’ve been spotted (if you’re not scared by all of Facebook’s privacy craziness).

OR you can try to win some free bags via me, via the M&M’s PR people. Just leave a comment here telling me which is your favorite variety of M&M’s by midnight on Friday, May 28th, EST. I’ll randomly select 2 commenters to win 2 free bags each! Good luck!

Edit 05/30: This contest is now closed. Congratulations to Maureen and Stephen, who were randomly selected as the winners!

Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s

I had been looking for Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s for ages, since they first starting popping up in the candy blogosphere.

They were released as a limited edition promotional tie-in for the Transformers sequel, and I finally found them a week or so ago in a local discount grocery store. Only in a giant bag, but oh well. Now I have roommates who eat chocolate to share with!

Strawberry, peanut butter, and chocolate are an unusual flavor combination to find in candy, though it makes perfect sense. Peanut butter and chocolate are great together, and strawberry jam and peanut butter are a classic, so why not combine the three components?

The M&M’s are colored to look like those three elements: brown, red, and orange with light red specks. I’m not sure if that was the intention – maybe they were going for fall colors? – but I appreciate the color scheme.

Like regular peanut butter M&M’s, they’re irregularly sized and lopsided. Also like peanut butter M&M’s, they’re a peanut butter spheroid (oblate, to be precise) surrounded by chocolate, which is covered by a sugar shell.

These guys smell like artificial berry with an undertone of chocolate. No peanut butter scent comes through. When bitten into, there’s the usual M&M’s crunch, then a burst of sweet strawberry fruitiness that finishes with a cloyingly artificial tinge.

Beneath it all, there’s the underlying flavor of creamy peanut butter. It’s reminiscent of cheap jarred peanut butter, as it’s not that roasty or nutty.

The flavor combination really works well, but it’s a tad too sweet for me, mostly due to the artificial fruit finish. I mostly enjoy them when I eat them, but I can’t handle more than a few at a time (built in portion control – maybe not necessarily a bad thing?). I can’t decide if I’d buy another bag of these or not. Normally, I’d say no, but they are a limited edition…

They get an O from me. My roommates seemed to like them more, as the bag didn’t last long in the living room.

Skittles Crazy Cores

Crazy Core Skittles are the latest flavor addition to the Skittles line up. My package wasn’t marked as a limited edition, so I think they’re around for good.

They come in five flavors:

Mango Peach is pastel orange on the outside and pink on the inside. It tastes of a floral artificial peachiness with a slight seedy mango bite to the finish.

Cherry Lemonade is red on the outside and yellow inside. It starts out tasting like artificial cherry, then mellows into a sweet lemonade flavor. And I do mean lemonade – it tastes of lemons but without any citrus bite.

Strawberry Watermelon is green on the outside and pink on the inside. Melon Berry is the opposite: pink on the outside and green inside. I don’t quite get the distinction between the flavor names. I guess Melon Berry is more generic? Both taste like watermelon Jolly Ranchers, with the Melon Berry having a stronger candy watermelon flavor.

Finally, Blue Raspberry Lemon is blue on the outside and yellow on the inside. It opens with an artificial berry bite that dominates the lemon part, as I couldn’t taste any lemon. It does veer towards sweet and sour, which was the main contribution of the lemon part.

I think the concept was good, but the execution needed work. The different flavors in each individual Skittle didn’t really come through. I tried letting the shells dissolve but didn’t get flavors from them. While these aren’t bad, plain old original fruit Skittles are still my go to, as long as I can find someone to eat all the red and purple ones (I’m a citrus Skittles gal). An O.

Starburst Choozers

Starburst Choozers are “fruit flavoured chews with liquid centre made with real fruit juices.” Did you catch those UK spellings? Yup – these guys are, at least for now, only available abroad.

My pack had 10 Choozers unevenly distributed amongst 3 flavors: 6 pineapple & orange, 3 orange & mango, and 1 raspberry & orange. Though the unbalanced flavor distribution was a tad annoying, the pineapple & orange were my favorite, so that worked out well for me.

Starburst Choozers are basically like Gushers, just with a Starburst chew outside. The chew was slightly stiffer than that of regular Starbursts, while the liquid centers were a cool, non-oozy goo.

Pineapple & orange had a nicely pineapple-astringent chew. It was hard to get a feel or taste for the liquid center in this chew. Still, I enjoyed this one the most, and it made me wish that Starburst fruit chews came in pineapple.

In orange & mango, both flavors were distinguishable. Mango overpowers at first, then gives way to a tart orange. In raspberry & orange, it’s all the taste of seedy raspberry, with a slightly plasticy aftertaste.

I wish I could buy a pack of all pineapple chews (I guess they do make a pineapple Hi-Chew for that). The pineapple & orange get an OM, the orange & mango gets an O, and the raspberry & orange gets a –. Overall, I give the pack an O, as I doubt all packs are as favorably flavor imbalanced as mine was.

Balisto – Honey-Almond-Mix

Here’s the second of the two Balisto bars I bought in Cambridge. In case you missed it, the other Balisto that I bought, a Muesli-Mix bar, was reviewed last Friday.

The ingredients for this bar are biscuit à la farine complete, crème au miel et amandes, enrobe de chocolat au lait (39%). I believe that translates to a whole-wheat cookie, cream of honey, and almonds enrobed in milk chocolate.

The composition of this bar was similar to that of the Muesli-Mix, and it was the same wholesome-tasting cookie with a similar fake-milk-cream thing, all covered in milk chocolate. I didn’t notice any almonds or almond bits, perhaps because the fake-milk-cream thing had a honeyed tinge that was pretty overpowering.

I thought the cross-section of this bar looked better than that of the Muesli-Mix, but unfortunately, it didn’t really taste better. The honey cream give the bar a strange finish that really doesn’t work for me. I finished the two bars, but that’s enough for me. An O.

So the honey-almond-mix wasn’t quite right. Still, after two bars, I’m going to keep my eye out for the rest of the line while I’m in Europe, as I’d love to try more variations.

Balisto Muesli-Mix

I’m hopping a plane to Paris today, so I thought it fitting to trot out a review of a French candy bar that I ate last summer. I found these two Balisto bars in Le Gros Franck, the same Cambridge cafe where I found the Carambars I reviewed a while back. I’ll review the Muesli-Mix bar today and the Honey-Almond-Mix on Monday.

Muesli is a breakfast cereal made with oats, dried fruits, and nuts. It’s fairly popular in the UK. The ingredients in this Muesli Mix bar are: biscuit à la farine complète, crème au lait (16%), raisins et noisettes, enrobe de chocolat au lait (39%).

Thinking back to my high school and freshmen year French, I believe that means a whole-wheat cookie, cream, raisins, and hazelnuts, enrobed in milk chocolate.

The bulk of the bar was a fine-grained but grittily textured cookie that tasted wholesomely yummy. A thin layer of white cream topped the chocolate. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was – it reminded me of the fake milk stuff in General Mill’s Milk and Cereal bars.

Whole raisins randomly studded the top under the milk chocolate enrobing. The hazelnuts must have been quite finely chopped, as I didn’t notice any hazelnut pieces, but the whole bar had a nicely nutty tinge. I liked the Muesli-Mix bar. It tasted wholesome but was still a nice treat. An OMG.

Dove Promises Milk Chocolate with Peanut Butter

Dove Promises’s newest product, milk chocolate with peanut butter, is heading into bold territory by trying to hone in on Reese’s audience. Challenging Reese’s is no small feat – they’ve really perfected the chocolate/peanut butter balance, both flavor and texture-wise, and they’re a brand behemoth. It may not be entirely fair to judge Dove against Reese’s, but the comparison is unavoidable.

So how’d they do? The Promises are covered in classic smooth and creamy Dove milk chocolate and filled with a similarly silky peanut butter filling. The milk chocolate was soft rather than snappy, making the whole Promise rather pliable.

The peanut butter filling was nutty, but not roasty, and could have been saltier. Reese’s has done so well precisely because its peanut butter is salty enough to really stand up against the chocolate. Dove’s could have been stronger. Still, Dove did at least manage a decently balanced chocolate to peanut butter ratio.

All in all, not a bad effort. They look slightly nicer than Reese’s miniatures, and they’d fit in nicely with a mix of Promises for a living room candy bowl. But if I have a peanut butter/milk chocolate craving while I’m in the candy aisle, I’d go with a Reese’s instead. An O.


I was excited/mad when I read this Jezebel post about Mars’s new Fling bar. Excited because my press packet and free samples were in the mail; mad because they were still in the mail and ugh, if I’d already reviewed them I might’ve been able to nab a link from Jezebel, like CandyBlog and CandyAddict did, which would’ve been huge free publicity for this site! Oh well. I still got to try them, at least. And I got to page through the hilarious/horrible press packet they came with.

Fling chocolates are marketed as portion controlled chocolate indulgences that are “naughty but not too naughty.” Now, I’m all for portion control, but I hate the way Mars went about marketing these guys. Here are some of my favorite quotes from my press packet, with my thoughts in italics:

  • FLING offers chocolate liberation – freeing every woman from the guilt of indulging in chocolate pleasure. Why do women need to feel guilty about eating chocolate?! Guilt implies wrongdoing, and there’s nothing wrong with eating chocolate.
  •  California women confess that they enjoy chocolate as much as passionate kissing (77% enjoy chocolate, 75% enjoy passionate kissing). That’s not how statistics work, Mars.
  • Your boyfriend doesn’t need to know. If this is a legit concern for you, you deserve a better boyfriend who isn’t judgmental about your chocolate consumption habits. 

Those press notes bothered me far more than the hot pink wrappers or the sparkles in the chocolate (which I thought were kind of neat) because they embody how society can dictate how women should behave and eat and look. On a non-candy note, Frito-Lay is running a similarly annoying and sexist promotion for Baked Lays, SmartFood, and Flat Earth chips.

But that’s enough of my feminist rantings. How do the Fling bars taste? Not bad, actually, but not great. They come in three flavors: from left to right, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and hazelnut. The milk chocolate is described as “a delicate truffle on a subtle crisp layer enrobed in shimmering chocolate,” and the same could describe all three bars. I initially thought the “crisp layer” was like the inside of a malted milk ball, just minus the malt flavors. After perusing the press packet, I learned that it’s a bit of meringue cookie. The same meringue is in all three bars and is consistently light, airy, and crisp. The chocolate literally shimmers, thanks to some added pixie dust (a.k.a. mica). Yes, it’s a bit irritating to think that Mars made the chocolate SHINY! to appeal to women, but I’ll admit it – I like shiny things. I thought the shimmer was neat, it wasn’t nearly as horrid as it looked in the press photos Mars sent me (see below), and it didn’t affect the taste at all, so why not?


The truffle of the milk chocolate bar reminds me of a 3 musketeers’ nougat filling. It had a slightly dairy finish, but there was something a bit off about the flavor, perhaps due to PGPR being listed in the ingredients.

The dark chocolate had a slightly deeper cocoa flavor and a sweet finish. It didn’t taste as dark as it looked. The ingredients for the dark bar didn’t have PGPR, but it did have “chocolate processed with alkali,” which is where the dark coloring came from.

I was most excited about the hazelnut, as chocolate and hazelnut are a great flavor combination. Unfortunately, the hazelnuttiness was far too light and not enough to really distinguish it from the milk bar. And it has more PGRP. Yay!

Overall, I give these an O. I really enjoy the novelty of the meringue cookie, but I wish the chocolate was nicer. Better chocolate and more nuttiness to the hazelnut could’ve pushed these up to the next rating. As for their marketing… Right now they’re just being test marketed in California (others can buy online). We’ll just have to wait and see how much further they get.

3 musketeers raspberries with dark chocolate minis

Did you manage to catch the limited edition run of Cherry 3 Musketeers that were out for Valentine’s Day? I didn’t. But I did get mailed a free sample bag of 3 Musketeers Raspberry minis, a limited edition for Easter. I also got a couple of their non-limited edition mint bars, but since I’ve reviewed those way back when I first started this blog, I won’t write them up again.

Though they’re ostensibly for Easter, the bars’ packaging didn’t seem that Easter-y to me. It had the requisite daisies and pastel eggs on the wrappers, but I think the shiny hot pink and silver foil wrappers went against the Easter mood. The packaging exhorts you to “bring the spring feeling home,” but they just don’t look like spring to me.

The Minis are perfect little squares (about quarter-sized) of pink-tinged nougat covered in dark chocolate. The nougat is typical 3 Musketeers nougat, soft and fluffy. The packaging promised “whipped up, fluffy chocolate-on-raspberry taste. ” They smell medicinally fruity, and they kind of taste that way too, with a seedy, artificially and overly sweet fruitiness that mingles with the mild dark chocolate coating.

I didn’t particularly care for these myself, so they get an O, but that’s a personal taste preference. I also wouldn’t care for a See’s version of the same thing. The people I shared these with liked them, and one of my friends even remarked that they taste remarkably high end for a Mars mass-produced product. So if chocolate covered fruity-nougat is your thing, by all means, add these to your Easter basket.

Dove Promises – Dark Chocolate, Almond Dark Chocolate, Tiramisu, and Blackberry Caramel

About a month ago, I gave two types of Dove chocolates, their Dark Chocolate Promises and their Dark Chocolate Mint Flavored Caramel Promises, a bad review. They were mailed to me as a contest prize, and they showed up bloomed and sub-par. Well, Dove saw my review and asked if I would give them a second chance if they mailed me more chocolates. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to me, and as before, I was happy to give the offending chocolate another try. Dove sent me a generous box of samples that included several of their Promises line, and it all arrived in pristine, unbloomed condition.

First up, another shot at their Dark Chocolate Promises. This time, I got a much larger bag that arrived in fine shape. The individually foil-wrapped bite-sized chocolates had a lovely melt that was thick and creamy. It had a dusky finish with slightly dry overtones, making it solid, affordable, and portion-controlled snacking chocolate. An OM.

Dove also sent along a big bag of their Almond Dark Chocolate Promises that were packaged for Valentine’s Day. The Promises were heart shaped and wrapped in gold and pink heart-printed foil, and the messages inside these were more romantically themed than their usual inspirational fare. The pieces of almond inside were tiny, which I appreciated, as it meant they were too small to get stuck in between your teeth. The Dove dark chocolate was the same as in the Dark Chocolate Promise, and it paired nicely with the nutty, roasted almond flavor, earning them an OM.

Dove also sent along their Tiramisu Promises (at my request) and their Blackberry Caramel Promises (a nice surprise, not at my request). As you can see from above, both are square dark chocolates with a gooey caramel inside. The caramel of the Tiramisu had a strong coffee liqueur flavor that was quite tasty, if a tad on the sweet side. An OM.

The caramel of the Blackberry Caramel (possibly packaged for Valentine’s Day? It seems strange that it would always be patterned with hearts) had an overarching bright sweetness to it that tasted a bit seedy and a bit artificial. This wasn’t for me and only gets an O.

Dove’s Promises can’t compete with the high end truffle makers that charge upwards of $50 a pound, but they definitely hold their own against the usual riff-raff that clogs the seasonal aisle of the supermarket around Valentine’s Day. They’re a solid buy and quite worth their pricetag (especially when they’re free).