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The best (and worst) new products from 2016’s Sweets & Snacks Expo

Every year The A.V. Club ventures to Chicago’s McCormick Place to take in the Sweets & Snacks Expo. For three full days, candy makers from the world over come to Chicago to show off their finest wares and new products. With more than four acres of products to try, this year we decided to take a different approach. Here we’ll be highlighting some of the new items to keep an eye out for—or, perhaps, avoid—and we’ll have some accompanying videos coming later that give you a better look at the overwhelming convention floor. Without further ado, here’s some choice items from this year’s expo.

Godiva Chocolate & Crème Bar

“Chocolate And Crème Bar” is a more on-brand way for Godiva to say “Kind Of Like Twix,” because the beloved Mars staple appears to be the inspiration for this upscale copycat: It takes a cocoa biscuit, layers on some vanilla crème, then wraps it in milk chocolate. To add an extra touch of class, Godiva gives it an elegant hourglass shape. The chocolate and crème are delightfully rich—though not too much so—but also not especially memorable. It’s a delicious, fairly indulgent chocolate bar, though unlikely to unseat Twix from the cookie-and-chocolate-bar throne. [Kyle Ryan]

Little Bird Fire Bites and Fire Syrup

Little Bird checks a couple confectionary-trend boxes at once with its Fire Bites: salt and heat. The Long Island-based boutique chocolatier takes a candied jalapeño and wraps it in dark chocolate sprinkled with sea salt. The bites are about the size of a nickel and sneakily hot: The chocolate hits first while the jalapeño waits, then comes on strong for a couple of minutes. The pepper adds heat, not flavor, so the effect isn’t some kind of chocolate-salsa abomination. Spicy chocolate is Little Bird’s raison d’être, as the company also offers Fire Bark (milk or dark chocolate bark with crushed candied jalapeños), white chocolate Fire Bites, and Fire Syrup (simple syrup flavored with jalapeños). The jalapeño flavor in the Fire Syrup hits quickly and strongly then dissipates immediately. On its own, it doesn’t do much, but it could be good for a spicy cocktail. [Kyle Ryan]

Poptacular Kale Popcorn

The backlash against kale should gain momentum with the introduction of Poptacular’s Kale Popcorn, as people weary of the super food’s sudden ubiquity discover that the green leafy menace has insinuated itself into another place. Poptacular is known for its creative flavors—Curry Kettle, Red Licorice Kettle, Truffle & Salt, something called Rainbow Roulette—but hosing down popcorn with kale powder is a miss. It’s not bad (if you like or don’t mind kale), but the flavor is inert. Snackers are better off eating real kale and leaving popcorn to its more natural pairings. [Kyle Ryan]

Caramel Sea Salt Flipz

Chocolate-covered pretzels are one of god’s greatest creations, merging crunchy and sweet into one bite-sized morsel. The Flipz brand has, for the past decade or so, worked to capitalize on that blend and has done so rather successfully. This year, though, stores will get Caramel Sea Salt Flipz, which, while both crunchy and sweet, aren’t actually crunchy and sweet in any sort of pleasing way. Oppressively cloying, the new Flipz aren’t so much caramel-enrobed as they are perfume-encased, and the salt adds nothing to the whole operation. The chocolate drizzle doesn’t do anything taste-wise and was probably just added for looks. In short, this one’s a pass. [Marah Eakin]

Bandar Naan Chips

Naan chips aren’t exactly a new commodity in the non-potato-based chip market, but Bandar seems to be doing things right with its Indian-flavors-infused snacks. While the company makes a solid bag of cumin-spiced portable poppadums, there’s also a lot to like about its naan chips, which come in garlic, tikka masala, and Himalayan sea salt. While the tikka masala variety is savory, it could get tedious if you really want to plow through a bag. Garlic and sea salt are different, though the former, while delicious, will leave your breath smelling just terrible for a while after. Still, if you’re in the market for a crispy chip or cracker-like option that’s slightly better for you than a big, old handful of Lay’s, these naan chips are a solid option. [Marah Eakin]

Bit-O-Honey Chocolate

Bit-O-Honey has been around since 1924, which presumably explains why the candy used to be nearly impervious to saliva and teeth. You had to feel you were getting your money’s worth when everything else was being rationed, which is why a piece of the stuff could sit in your mouth stuck between your teeth for hours. That’s a bit hyperbolic, but you had to be certain you wanted the taste of honey in your mouth for the rest of the day whenever you twisted open the familiar blue, red, and yellow wrapper. This chocolate version, which debuted in the ’70s, is most remarkable for being more edible than its predecessor, but the flavor isn’t very strong. But at least it’s no longer a 24-hour commitment. [Danette Chavez]

Jelly Belly Organic Fruit Flavored Snacks

Jelly Belly recently fell in with the organic crowd, debuting a line of organic jelly products just five months ago. The treats come in animal and fruit shapes as well as the classic bean, which makes throwing together a healthy-looking meal a snap. Just fill a bowl with some of the rainforest-animal jellies for “protein,” add some jelly beans for more protein, then brighten up the dish with some gelatinous citrus. Aside from making for a nice rainy-day activity with the kids, these organic fruit snacks are serviceable. They taste fruity enough and are nowhere near as cloyingly sweet as the fruit slices you can pick up by the bagful at the supermarket checkout. [Danette Chavez]

Tropical Treat’s Banana & Chocolate Top Banana Bar

Before you try this thin, spongy bar from Tropical Treat, it’s not entirely clear what flavors you’ll be getting: The top right of the wrapper says “Banana & Chocolate,” but the lower left says “Coconut Candy Bar.” The bar itself is bright yellow with a chocolate stripe down the center. There’s an overwhelming coconut-sunscreen smell as soon as you peel back the clear wrapper—a smell that I confess to enjoying, both in food and lotions—and the artificial banana is a strong second note, with barely a whiff or taste of the chocolate. The bar seems to be trying to mimic a coconut texture, but by the time you’re done chewing a single bite, it’s more like sugary hay. [Laura M. Browning]

Vidal Scary Gummies

If gummy bears and sharks haven’t proved fearsome enough for you, Vidal has a line of seasonal gummy treats that includes missing body parts (that’s just the shape of the candy, not the ingredients). The rest of the shapes under the “Scary Gummi” umbrella are spiders, bats, and other horror miscellany. The devil’s head we sampled resembled the bad guy running around Scream Queens—it’s nice work, but it’s no Gummy de Milo. It’s sweet but not sticky, and since they’re available in four-packs, these are a good addition to your Halloween candy repertoire. [Danette Chavez]

Brussel Bytes, Dipperz, and Snip Chips

A frequently asked but rarely answered question in the sweets and snacks world: How does one make a snack that tastes really good—like it’s bad for you—but is actually pretty good for you. It’s essentially impossible, because something’s got to give. What a snack lacks in sugar, it has to make up for in fat or salt. That doesn’t stop folks from trying, and the very nice ladies of Wonderfully Raw have hit on something pretty decent here, with a full lineup of products. They’ve got Brussel Bytes, which are basically dehydrated vegetables drenched in spice. They’ve got the named-for-the-kidz Dipperz, which are different dehydrated vegetables drenched in spice. And they’ve got various Coco Roons, which are like dessert for people who’ve given up dessert (gluten-free, organic, vegan, paleo). Ixnay on those, but the veggies are actually very tasty. [Josh Modell]

Pressels

There are no names left in the snack world, so perhaps it’s time we close down the patent office. That didn’t stop Pressels, which have invaded the pretzel-chip market, from presenting some competition to Pretzel Crisps, which are delicious. Here’s the thing about Pressels: They look like tiny bagel slices and nothing like pretzels. Despite the name, the originals still taste really good, though the new Sriracha variety is all heat and no flavor. Back to the name: “Pressels” sounds like a snack that you ask for when you’re wanting pretzels, but you are sloppy, fall-down drunk. “Gimme some pressels, bartender, or I’ll knock your fuggin’ teeth down your throat.” [Josh Modell]

Chuao Caramel Apple Crush

Every year, our pals at the delicious Chuao Chocolatier come up with a new flavor that sounds sorta gimmicky but ends up being delicious. They’ve done Potato Chip, Bacon, Pop Rocks, and Cinnamon Cereal—pretty much all winners. This year it’s Caramel Apple Crush, described accurately as “tangy green apple flirts with buttery caramel in milk chocolate.” If that sounds delicious to you, it will be. [Josh Modell]

Caramel Apple Pops

For years, the candy behemoth Tootsie has offered Caramel Apple Pops, a lolly that’s mostly insanely sticky caramel covering a hard candy designed to ruin your teeth. Until recently, they came only in green apple flavor. And now—bombshell—they also offer Red Macintosh (not as good) and Golden Delicious (better than the green, but a weird color). Maybe make an appointment with your dentist before trying them. [Josh Modell]

Mountain Thins

Calling something a “mountain thin” is a bit of an oxymoron, but these new, bite-sized chocolate bars do a nice job of paring down the nougat goodness of Brown And Haley’s beloved Mountain Bars into a guilt-free treat. The chocolate is creamy and soft, with the other ingredients adding texture and creating the appearance of a tiny mountain range stretching across the bar. Of the flavors available, Dark Chocolate Wild Berry was the clear favorite, capitalizing on the winning combo of tart fruits and semi-bitter cocoa. [Cameron Scheetz]

Justin’s Maple Almond Butter With Pretzels

Let’s get this out of the way: I am pretty damn lazy. I am not, however, too lazy to use pretzels as a spoon with a dollop of almond butter. I’m not even too lazy to put that dollop of peanut butter into a separate container and pretzel-spoon from that. Justin’s Snack Pack must assume the worst of people while also assuming that they’ll be lured by the promise of only 190 calories per pack. Nothing about this snack is bad, it’s just… almond butter and pretzels. The supposed maple doesn’t add much flavor, and though there’s an appropriate number of pretzels for the amount of almond butter, you’ll do just as well to keep a container of nut butter and a bag of pretzels at your desk. [Laura M. Browning]

U Gottabee Nutz

We snagged three flavors of these: caramel and sea salt cashews, rosemary and Meyer lemon almonds, and balsamic habañero pistachios. The caramel and sea salt cashews are heavier on the sweet than the salty but still make a satisfying snack. The pistachios and almonds are less successful: The rosemary overpowers their hint of Lemon Pledge, and the pistachios contain indeterminate flavors that seem to be neither habañero nor balsamic but just sort of… dusty. Finally, this brand name: Why is it “Gottabee,” as though bees or honeyed sweetness are implied? Why would you purposefully make “nut” plural using a Z? From the flavors to the branding, these snacks are full of unanswered questions. [Laura M. Browning]

Project 7 Build A Flavor S’mores Gourmet Gum

This was so vile that I had to make everybody else try it to make sure it wasn’t just me. Once my taste buds recovered (with the help of a hastily eaten banana), I proclaimed it “worse than Malört.” Assistant editor Caitlin PenzeyMoog called it “the most disgusting thing I’ve ever eaten, and I once drank pig’s blood.” Overwhelmingly sweet, sticky, and flavored with the finest chemicals, the most favorable rating this got was “I’ve had worse.” [Laura M. Browning]

Starburst Jellybeans Ice Cream Flavors

Okay, I’ve got to vent a little frustration here. As an ice cream fanatic, I was pretty thrilled about the potential for some inventive flavors paying tribute to the creamy dessert. Instead, Starburst Jellybeans’ newest batch are essentially inspired by sherbets/sorbets (with the exception of the strawberry flavor)—so, yeah, not ice cream. You don’t get to call it that, Starburst. Nevertheless, the jellybeans are pleasant and surprisingly flavorful, something that could be said for all of Starburst’s beans. The orange sherbet was the most appealing of the bunch, though they’re not really offering anything different then Jelly Belly’s classic creamsicle flavor. [Cameron Scheetz]

Kick’n Mango-Lime Chewy Red Hots

Red hots are the definition of a candy that’s perfect just the way it is: As you bit into it, a red hot briefly releases a tiny flare of spicy cinnamon flavor and then disappears into the abyss. Yet brands must forever push into the great unknown—including when it comes to spelling—which is how we get “Kick’n Mango-Lime” flavor. In execution, it’s not bad, mostly just a combination of a sweet, fruity Jelly Belly with the afterburn of a mild cinnamon kick. It’s a fine addition to the chewy candy pantheon, albeit nobody’s idea of something earning the title “red hot.” [Alex McCown]

Rainbow Berry Airheads Xtremes Sourfuls

Airheads are fucking great. They’re one of the best candies out there when it comes to perfect taffy-style sweetness combined with just a hint of waxy tough texture. The company’s sour flavors—basically Sour Patch Kids, only mellower—are good but nowhere near the perfection of the original candy. Still, the Rainbow Berry flavor is a good ’un, tart and fruity with a white interior that reminds me of those gummy shoe bottoms, only sour. Points deducted for continuing to spell “Xtremes” like that, though. [Alex McCown]

Fini Shock Tongues, Sour Tornadoes, and Fizzy Tornadoes

The Fini company is getting all up in your business with these offerings, none of which would feel strange sticking out of a hyperactive child’s mouth while they school you in Gears Of War. Of the three, the Sour Tornadoes are easily the worst—blandly forgettable with a waxy texture and not even that sour, which is really the only thing they need to be. Ironically, the Fizzy Tornadoes taste the way you’d expect the Sour Tornadoes to—like a stick-length Sour Patch Kid, mouth-puckeringly tasty. The clear winners are the Shock Tornadoes, which are like a sour version of an Airhead—weirdly, more like that than Airheads’ own Xtremes Sourfuls. [Alex McCown]

Iceberg Mint Dentyne Ice Sub Zero

No one can accuse Dentyne of not committing to this one. This gum is super minty, like a cross between chewable Wintergreen Altoids and a sprig of actual mint coated with a dental-grade numbing solution. True, it loses its flavor after about three minutes, but that’s nothing new for Dentyne, or any brand of gum, really. Basically the gum equivalent of a dude from the early ’00s yelling, “Suuuuuuurge!!!!” [Alex McCown]

Popchips Potato Ridges Cheddar & Sour Cream and Tangy Barbecue

Popchips are made when “heat and pressure” are added to potatoes—and then they “pop”! I prefer it when heat and delicious, fatty oil are added to potatoes (and then my mouth). But for those watching their caloric intakes, there are popchips—now with ridges. (“Ridged for your pleasure,” the bag says. “Ew,” I say.) Skip the Cheddar & Sour Cream chips’ watered-down cheese flavor, which allows the plain, healthy-ish potato taste to come through. If you must eat a popchip, go for Tangy Barbecue. They aren’t special, but the BBQ flavor dominates and, with the chips’ crunch, makes these pretty decent. Not as decent as good, ole fried potato chips, mind you, but still good. [Laura Adamczyk]

Jif To Go Dippers Chocolate Silk With Pretzels

Peanut butter is not an on-the-move snack. Chocolate’s pretty touch and go, too. The historical record is littered with evidence proving that transporting either item will only result in their accidental yet fortuitous combination. Jif To Go Dippers puts the so-called Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together Principle to the test by inviting a third party, pretzel crisps, to provide a little more salt and a lot more crunch. The chocolate silk spreads onto the pretzels as smoothly as its name implies—maybe too smoothly, as it’s apt to spread right through the hole in the middle of the pretzels. What is the purpose of that hole? Is it to make sure we readily identify this snack as pretzel-based? These are essentially Mr. Phipps Pretzel Chips, and those didn’t have holes in them. The historical record contains evidence of that as well! [Erik Adams]

Lemon Tootsie Roll Pop

Before we begin, let’s all agree that the best and most underrated Tootsie Pop has a citrus flavor: orange. So there’s nothing inherently odd about wrapping another fruit of that genus around a sorta chocolate-flavored taffy. There is something old about it, though, as if your grandma’s dishes of lemon drops and Tootise Rolls have been out for so long that they’ve started to mate. Don’t go the “how many licks” route with this one, though: Best to take the advice of Mr. Owl and bite to the center before the initial zest of the treat gives way to the sensation that you’re sucking on crystalized Lemon Pledge. [Erik Adams]

MoonPie Bites

What a time to be alive: Celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2017, the self-proclaimed “original marshmallow sandwich” rockets into a future where baked goods are consumed in pellet form. This miniaturized take on the Southern favorite (tiny RC Cola not included) comes from Cookie Dough Bites, Cupcake Bites, and Cinnamon Bun Bites manufacturer Taste Of Nature, bearing the chocolate coating and grainy texture of those movie-theater staples. At first bite, there’s not much to distinguish MoonPie Bites from their chocolate-chip predecessors. And then the graham cracker notes hit, and it all makes sense. Maybe not as much sense as marketing the candy as a s’more addition to the Bites line, but then the chocolate’s not on the outside of a s’more, is it? (A universal truth, no matter how many times the word “s’more” appears on the packaging.) [Erik Adams]

Super Blow Pop Sweet N Sour

A Wagnerian undertaking of hard confectionery, the Super Blow Pop Sweet N Sour does more than inflate the average Blow Pop to jaw-straining proportions. It also swirls together two complementary flavors from the Charms staple—sweet cherry and sour limeade in the sample we secured from the expo. While this is a boon to indecisive fans of candy-coated gum wads, the arrangement favors the combo’s tart half. A valiant effort at translating the taste of a classic summertime refresher—though the lollipop’s pink core remains as unchewable as ever. [Erik Adams]

Corny Big Brownie Bar

A German import that fits right in with America’s love of breakfast that is essentially candy, the Corny Big Brownie Bar tastes like Cocoa Puffs with extra chocolate. It’s delicious, not too sweet, and appears to have rolled oats in it. The ingredients and nutritional information are in German on the package, but it’s safe to bet this isn’t too healthy for you. Still, chocolate cake is a popular breakfast in Germany, and this take on the cereal bar could do well overseas. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Rainbow Ice Gourmet Gum

It looks like a plain piece of white gum, but it smells exactly like the snow cone syrup found at street festivals and state fairs. Maybe it’s because that taste is so specific to its context of ground ice, but the gum falls short when you actually put it in your mouth. It’s run-of-the-mill flavored gum at this point, tasting of artificial flavors that fade away after a few minutes. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Choward’s Guava Candy

It tastes like guava! If you like guava and sugary candy, you’ll probably like this. The first ingredient is sugar, the second ingredient is invert sugar (we looked it up—it’s a “mixture of glucose and fructose,” which sounds awfully similar to regular sugar), and the third ingredient is natural and artificial flavors! What you see on the package is what you get. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Käfē Premium Coffee Candy

One staffer liked this hard candy, saying it tasted just like sugary coffee, but I found the experience more like licking burnt coffee grounds. So basically: Your mileage may vary. The only three ingredients are organic evaporated cane juice, organic tapioca syrup, and organic spray-dried coffee (?!). If that sounds delicious to you, you’ll probably love these. [Laura M. Browning]

Amy’s Organic Chewy Candy Bar and Crispy Candy Bar

Amy’s, purveyor of organic savory foods, is expanding into the candy business. Two of the company’s candy bars (obnoxiously branded “Andy’s Dandy Candy” with an old-timey, carnivalesque design), the crispy and the chewy bars, are solid, if not revolutionary. The chewy bar is essentially a turtle—pecans, chocolate, and caramel together. It’s fine, if you like turtles. The cripsy bar is way better. Its rice crisps give it a nice pop, and though it doesn’t say “salt” anywhere on the packaging, there’s enough to taste and really bring the flavor out. (It’s also the only ingredient besides water that doesn’t have “organic” in front of it. Take note that salt is a mineral and therefore outside of the classification of organic or not, and stop pestering your local spice merchants for organic salt.) [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Mentos Caramels and Caramel & Mint Dark Chocolate

Is it really Mentos if it’s not minty? Mentos Caramels and Mentos Caramel & Mint Dark Chocolate (products of Russia) make the case for most egregious candy advancement into new territory. Far from innovative, the best reaction invoked by the Mentos Caramel & Mint Dark Chocolate is a desire for either plain minty Mentos or a straightforward chocolate caramel treat; and while the other new Mentos product—the Mentos Caramels—might meet that basic candy stipulation, it is a disgusting blend of artificial caramel with an unappealing, doughy chocolate center. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sea Salt Rxbars

The sort of Clif Bar product ostensibly designed for hardcore campers and outdoorsy types, Rxbars will probably be used more for breakfast by city folks who also wear Under Armour and hiking backpacks on their work commutes. The peanut butter Rxbar is a nice-tasting, protein-packed rectangular loaf—not particularly tasty but just fine if you need the calories. The chocolate sea salt one isn’t as good, probably because it’s trying to be both a healthy outdoorsy food shortcut and a candy bar. Choose one or the other. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Juice Poppers

From maker Choice Finée’s website, it appears Juice Poppers are meant to be folded into recipes like fancy wraps and used as garnishes on desserts. That’s not how we ate the product, which is strawberry-flavored boba balls in a sugary strawberry liquid. Instead of adding to Thai tea or a fruity smoothie, we ate them plain, downing some bobas and inevitably getting sticky syrup all over everything. It was not pleasant, but that’s not to say these things wouldn’t be good when added to a recipe. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Thunder Bolts Orange Flavored Caffeinated Gummies

As resident 5-Hour Energy defender, I got saddled with testing Thunder Bolts Caffeinated Gummies. Findings: I’ll stick with my 5-Hours. These “adult gummies” taste better than 5-Hour Energy, but that’s where the pro list ends. The con list includes that the flavor is orange (objectively the worst flavor for candies, suckers, and popsicles), the directions on the package are intensely terrifying, and, after eating some, my body feels similar to if I had just downed a can of Red Bull or Monster Energy drink. I feel jittery and my heart is racing. Maybe I should have taken the instructions seriously: “Do not use if you’ve a family history of heart problems.” If I have a heart attack, my dying cry will be in defense of 5-Hour Energy. [Caitlin PenzeyMoog]

Bugles Ranch

Bugles are the perfect snack for someone driving all night through insane, mind-shattering darkness. Someone pulling off at a Pilot station at 3 a.m., desperate for something crunchy to pair with a giant can of Starbucks Doubleshot Energy Drink. Someone who respects themselves too much for Combos. Someone who thinks Doritos aren’t fun enough. The ranch variety of Bugles tastes like regular Bugles, but with “naturally flavored” ranch added. It’s a different color of powder with which to cover your fingertips as you drive with 10 Bugles extending from both hands, swerving onto the shoulder of the road, the jolt of the rumble strips sending your bag onto the floorboard. [Andrew Morgan]

Annie’s Cheddar Squares

These are great if you want the anticipation of housing an entire box of Cheez-Its without any of the payoff. Sure, they’re made with organic wheat flour and expeller-pressed sunflower oil and “real cheese.” But instead of a shock of bold flavors and salt going straight into your brain, you’re left munching aggressively mild cheese crackers that don’t satisfy a single known human craving. They’re even too big to really put that many in your hand/mouth. It’s the ultimate insult. [Andrew Morgan]

Lorissa’s Kitchen Ginger Teriyaki Chicken Jerky

Socially conscious meat and meat products are all the rage right now, and rightfully so, but these chewy little chicken bites aren’t really trying that hard. The snack itself is tender and healthy, but neither ginger nor teriyaki reveals itself as you chew along, creating a mindless, hunger-ending snack experience. With the world of jerky rapidly extending into the worlds of free-range proteins and mouth-expanding flavors, this bag of meat doesn’t need to leave the shelf. [Andrew Morgan]

Waffle Works Jalapeño Cheddar and Double Chocolate

The waffle shape continues to invade food spaces where it doesn’t belong. At one point the world only had to deal with waffle cones, waffle fries, and the waffle that started it all… the waffle. Now we have to navigate a food universe where waffles are cereal and tater tots are smashed into a waffle iron and covered in edible garbage. Waffle Works brings us deliciously artificial filling sandwiched between two crunchy waffle-shaped cookies. The jalapeño cheddar variety somehow goes beyond the nuclear chemical cheese taste of Cheetos Sandwich Crackers. The double chocolate flavor is less thrilling, though definitely chocolate. Eating these in quick succession creates a full snack experience along with a very quick stomachache. [Andrew Morgan]

Einhorn’s Epic Cookies

Nothing goes together better than cookies and macho, anthropomorphic unicorns. Need proof? Pick up one of Einhorn’s Epic Cookies. They come in four different varieties, each named after a specific fighting unicorn member of the Royal Einhorn Force. Houston, the noble street-smart one, comes with a chocolate and potato chip cookie that is far too chewy, definitely chocolaty, and lacking any potato chip taste or texture. Cadiz, the fancy one with an earring, offers you a cookie with “birthday cake, crisped rice, and sprinkles” that translates to an extremely sweet (though less chewy) experience with no crisped rice taste or texture. Romsey, the hotheaded speedster, wants you to try his peanut butter, bacon, and chocolate chip confection, which tastes like a very normal, very tasty peanut butter and chocolate chip cookie that got dropped in a vat of pungent old bacon grease. Even in their insane space world, these unicorns should know that bacon doesn’t make EVERYTHING better. Lastly, there is Broxburn, the unhinged orphaned one, who implores you to try his oatmeal, chocolate chip, and maple cookie. This writer wasn’t able to grab this variety, but one could assume it was sweet and cookielike. That abandoned unicorn must really love breakfast! If the flashy packaging and deranged backstories aren’t enough for you, each cookie comes with a small comic book that further tells the tale of these soldier horses. They fight the Evil Lord Farragut (a unicorn in a trench coat), get framed for the disappearance of King Kensington (unicorn in a leather jacket, their leader), and along the way flirt with a variety of sensual cats, gazelles, and mice. The Einhorn website even has an interactive map of Eintropolis, the capital city where all this very normal stuff goes down. Famous Amos, it’s time to step your game up. [Andrew Morgan]

Original Glazed and Cappuccino Krispy Kreme Coffee Thins

Having snagged two flavors of Krispy Kreme’s new Coffee Thins from its booth—Original Glazed and Cappuccino—there was a hope that the doughnut makers were able to capably mix the worlds of coffee and chocolate. Unfortunately, Original Glazed actually has a glazed flavor, giving the thin chocolate bite the feel and taste of a newly waxed floor. Once the flavor wears off, it’s a halfway decent piece of chocolate but not much more than that. Cappuccino fares better, nailing that creamy coffee taste without overpowering the chocolate itself. It may not be as good as sipping a coffee and then snacking on some chocolate, but it’s not terrible either. [David Anthony]

Guinness Burts Chips

As evinced by its non-alcohol-filled booth at the expo, Guinness is getting into the snack game. With a full line of candy and chips at our disposal, The A.V. Club came away with a couple small bags from its new chip line, Guinness Burts. With both normal potato chip as well as rich chili varieties, these Guinness chips attempt to distill the brand’s stout into chip form. The original has a slight creaminess to it, making it for an unusual—but not totally unappealing—product. However, the rich chili flavor improves things dramatically. Although it retains the mark of the original, the added bit of barbecue-like spice helps it stick the landing. [David Anthony]

Hostess Milky Way and M&M Brownies

The latest Hostess concoctions try to take popular sweet treats and turn them into brownies. While the Milky Way version is slightly more distinct, both feature half-baked versions of the namesake candy strewn atop. The M&M version included a paltry amount of the crunchy candy, while the Milky Way has a noticeable bit of caramel and little more. That said, they’re still Hostess brownies. If you’re a fan, then you’ll enjoy these, but if the overly processed baked good is too much for you, these even sweeter additions won’t do much to convert you. [David Anthony]

Haunted Ghost Pepper Paqui Tortilla Chips

Most chips that advertise their spiciness as something to fear are often faking the funk. That’s not the case with Paqui’s Haunted Ghost Pepper Tortilla Chips. Like the pepper itself, the chips offer a slow burn, starting modestly enough before ramping up the heat to a truly intense level. In fact, it became difficult to make it through the small sample bag after tossing back a few of these fiery chips. If anything, it proved to be a good way to encourage portion control. [David Anthony]

Van Holten’s Pickle-Ice

I was actually a little bit excited to try Pickle-Ice, a product that is perfectly described by its name. (It’s a pickle-flavored popsicle.) I like pickles. I like frozen treats. But this thing is so overwhelming that I can’t imagine anyone except the heartiest salt lover getting through a whole one. They should’ve called them Uncle Salty’s Brine Pops. At least they’re fat-free? [Josh Modell]

Skinnygirl Belgian Dark Chocolate Truffles With Almonds and Belgian Milk Chocolate Coated Almonds

Much as we’d rather not throw any more money Bethenny Frankel’s way, we have to admit that for a “skinny” candy, these are pretty tasty. While they are somehow fairly low in sugar, you will not be tempted to spit them into the nearest receptacle and wail, “This is diet candy!” In fact, of the two items here, the “healthier” one appears superior: For the price of 100 calories, you can either get two dark chocolate truffles (which are so rich that two might just be enough), or eight milk-chocolate-coated almonds, which are in fact a little bit better, due to the flavorful addition of possibly some extra vanilla in the mix. Much as it fills us with shame to admit it, these are so good, we might now even be tempted to give Skinnygirl margaritas a try. [Gwen Ihnat]

Cherry Cola Tic Tac Mixers

It’s not like Tic Tacs are big or even hang around in your mouth that long. So it’s a sorry state of affairs in today’s short-attention-span society when even these tiny candies have to change flavor to hold our interest. Cherry Cola Tic Tac Mixers do indeed noticeably change flavor from cherry to cola, bringing to mind Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper. But Tic Tacs, as we know, are far from everlasting, so you’ll soon be popping extras in your mouth anyway. [Gwen Ihnat]

Peppermint Orbit White

Orbit is a solid go-to for your breath-freshening gum needs (and has the best commercials), but its White version completely kicks it up a notch. This chewy square is puffier than your usual Orbit chiclet, so it lasts a bit longer, and reportedly adds a whitening ingredient. Not that we noticed any immediate discernible improvement in that area, but if you’re going to be partaking in Orbit’s minty greatness anyway, why not go for a whitening aspect? Marketing works on us like we’ve got a lollipop for a head. [Gwen Ihnat]

Sour Jacks Mouth-Puckering Candy Wedges

The puckering aspects of Sour Jacks (in Lemonade and Wildberry) made us clench our jaw and thrash around gracelessly for a few moments until the intense sourness subsided. Feeling that we were a mite too sensitive, we turned to an eager, school-aged pair of taste-test subjects for a comparison. They submitted the following detailed report: “They did a really good job with the flavors. Good amount of sour. Medium in level.” Today we learned that even our taste buds are getting old. Thanks, Sour Jacks. [Gwen Ihnat]