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August 18, 2008

Review: M&M's Premiums

Sometimes a product comes along that just leaves me unsure how to rate it. The latest of these products are the M&M's Premiums which I got to try recently. They're premium because they have special fancy flavor, special fancy paint jobs (they look amazingly cool), and none of that pedestrian candy shell (the thing that defines an M&M in my opinion). Oh, and they have a premium price attached to them as well. Really premium. How premium? We'll get to that later.

First I want to talk about the products themselves. I picked up two varieties when I was in the store: Triple Chocolate and Raspberry Almond (the other three in release are Chocolate Almond, Mocha, and Mint Chocolate). They come in curvy vertical cardboard boxes with resealable bags of candy within. The cartons are attractive and have a neat shape, but the resealable bags are the big win on the packaging front. I have a tendency to open a bag of something, eat some of it, and then transfer the rest to a zipper bag so being able to just reseal the bag they come in really works for me.

Triple Chocolate: The triple chocolate has white, milk, and dark chocolate in a swirly purple color scheme. The pieces are a bit bigger than a regular M&M much like a Peanut M&M and look really neat. They're really good on the taste front, too. It doesn't taste too cheap and the whole thing has a nice interplay of flavors. I do have one issue with it, but it's a personal preference/mental block sort of problem. There is no candy shell so there is no crunch and the entire M&M experience is missing. Without the shell it just doesn't feel like an M&M to me. Personal bugaboo sort of thing, but it's the defining characteristic of the classic as far as I'm concerned.

Raspberry Almond: The Raspberry Almond has white chocolate, a little dark chocolate, raspberry flavor, and an almond. As expected from a raspberry confection they went with a red color scheme on these and they're very cool looking. And they taste good, too. I don't know what is different between the raspberry flavor they use in these and the flavor they used in the Razzberry M&M's they did a while back (chock full of extreme Z's), but it tastes a lot better. The chocolate is good and having an almond in it gives it that crunch that I was missing so bad in the Triple Chocolate version. And I am currently addicted to these in a bad way. I won't say they're perfect or anything, but they hit the spot when I want a little treat.

Now we come to the ratings. I don't want to under-review the Triple Chocolate because it's lacking in the crunch I expect from an M&M. I don't want to over-review the Raspberry Almond either since my general addiction level isn't an indication of how good they are. I get addicted to less than perfect stuff all the time (Chewy SweeTart Minis). And then there is the issue of price. They retail for $3.99 for 6oz and that's a trifle pricey. This past weekend I found them for $4.49 at Giant Eagle and was floored. That's pretty steep for snooty M&M's. Is it worth it? That's a personal call. I'm not buying them unless I find them on sale. They look more premium than they taste and they cost more premium than they look. Ignoring the price I'll go as far as a 7.75 out of 10 for the Triple Chocolate and a 8.25 for the Raspberry Almond. Subtract for the premium price as you see fit.

At it's full retail I'm not rushing to buy more. At the inflated price Giant Eagle is selling them at you can forget me ever buying more. Hopefully they're still on sale at Kroger. I'll probably be there for lunch tomorrow and can check then. This might be one of those lucky product launches like the Starbucks Chocolate where the stores end up with way too much and put it on clearance. I'd love to pick these up for a buck a pack. Here's hoping!

August 9, 2008

Xeni and Pesco Visit With TCHO On BBTV

It is entirely possible that the title of this post will mean absolutely nothing to you. The short version explanation is as follows: Xeni Jardin is a journalist and blogger who I first became familiar with through her co-editor role at the superblog Boing Boing, Pesco (David Pescovitz) is another of the co-editors at Boing Boing, TCHO is one of the new bean to bar chocolate makers, and BBTV is the video end of Boing Boing. Putting it all together we have some BBTV videos featuring Xeni and David visiting with TCHO and getting to see some of the art and science (TCHO really seem to be into the science) behind chocolate and getting a taste of TCHO's philosophy and chocolate. It's fun and painlessly educational stuff.

I'm not going to go in depth about any of these parties. I could gush about Boing Boing (and Xeni and David) at some length (the blog is a mind-bender and mind-expander), but that just isn't fun. You can check it out for yourself and make your own mind up. I could talk about TCHO for a bit, but I hate to talk much about them without having actually tried their chocolate yet (when the weather cools down from this lovely summer heat I plan on ordering from them) so aside from pointing out the heavy use of words based on "obsess" at their website I'm going to let them speak for themselves.

Anyway, give them a watch and enjoy! Oh, and I hope this embedding works. I'm never sure whether these things will actually fly when I get my hands on them.

Part One - chocolate origins

Part Two - magical machines, mysterious molecules

Part Three - the taste test trip

In case the embedding action failed here are some direct links:
chocolate origins
magical machines, mysterious molecules
the taste test trip

Sometime this fall I'll follow this up with some taste testing of my own. There are a number of new players in the bean to bar world and I'm excited to see what they're all up to.