When it comes down to it, there may be no more perfect candy than Mars’ M&M’s. Pile on all the caramel, nougat, toffee pieces, and flavor crystals you want to fancy up your candy, but nothing can beat the simple elegance of the M&M: chocolate, thin candy shell, the end.
Legend has it that Forrest Mars Sr. got the idea for M&M’s watching soldiers eat pieces of melting chocolate during the Spanish Civil War. The candy shell helped prevent melting, hence the “melts in your mouth, not in your hand” tagline that arrived in 1954. The original “plain” M&M’s debuted in 1941, and aside from some color changes and debuting peanut M&M’s in 1954, Mars didn’t screw with perfection until the early ’90s.
It started innocently enough with almond and peanut-butter M&M’s. M&M’s Minis followed in 1996, and crispy M&M’s in 1999. The millennium arrived, and shit really got nuts, with all sorts of limited-edition one-offs: raspberry, cherry, peach, mint, almond, white chocolate, peanut butter/white chocolate, and cookie. That doesn’t include promotional movie tie-ins, such as white chocolate “pirate pearls” M&M’s for Pirates Of The Caribbean in 2006, or cherry for last year’s Indiana Jones movie. 2008 also saw the release of M&M’s Premiums, a new line of higher-end—i.e., more money for fewer candies—using better chocolate and, shockingly, no candy shell. Oh Forrest Mars Sr., is this what you would have wanted?
Well, tough luck, corpsy: This summer, Mars is unleashing two new limited-edition flavors: strawberried peanut butter and coconut. The former joins Mars’ Snickers Nougabot bar—with, uh, yellow nougat—to tie in to the new Transformers movie for some reason. You can practically hear the pitch meeting: “See, they’re transforming into something called ‘strawberried’ peanut butter! Eh? C’mon, people, we need some ancillary revenue streams for this Michael Bay crapfest!”
Mounds is a Hershey’s product, but Mars has apparently swiped the fake-coconut-taste formula from the vault in Hershey, Pennsylvania, because coconut M&M’s taste exactly like Mounds, except without the gross shredded coconut. Our tasters were pretty evenly split: Those who liked them really liked them, and those who didn’t seemed mostly apathetic.
Strawberried peanut butter M&M’s inspired more confusion than anything else, mostly thanks to the non-word “strawberried.” There was no mistaking the strawberry flavor, though. It hit first, then gave way to peanut-butter exit flavor. They aren’t bad, but our tasters were unmoved. None of us would rush out to buy these on our own.
Like our other experiences with limited-edition M&M’s, these seemed only to reinforce individual tasters’ M&M’s preferences. Tasha Robinson maintains Mars cannot possibly top peanut butter M&M’s, while I would like to die in a vat of dark-chocolate M&M’s. These experiments are fun little larfs, but no one will campaign to get these a permanent spot in the M&M’s family.
• “Not bad. Convincingly coconut-y.”
• “Not as good as a nice Almond Joy, but not appalling.”
• “I wonder if there’s any actual coconut in these things. The flavor’s pretty convincing, but the lack of any texture confuses my palate, which is expecting chewiness.”
• “Coconut can be really fake, and this tastes real, right from a tree.”
• “I think it’s great, and I’m one of those people who doesn’t like Mounds.”
• “Surprisingly not terrible. I’d buy these.”
• “It kinda tastes like a chocolate-covered macaroon. It’s got a very Passover-y flavor.”
Strawberried Peanut Butter
• “These are… okay.”
• “Given that the peanut butter M&M is nature’s perfect candy, I don’t really see the point of this adulteration. If I wanted to dip my PBM&Ms in jelly, I would.”
• “They have red freckles on them.” “They’re Irish-looking.”
• “These are distractingly fruity-sugary, like chewing on a Skittle and an M&M at the same time, which is blasphemy.”
• “I’m not a fan. I guess it’s worth it as a novelty, but there are just too many flavors in this thing, and most of them aren’t very good.”
• “Are they normally this big?”
• “It’s kinda like peanut butter and jelly.”
• “There’s a really artificial kick at the end.” “Just at the end?”
• “Like strawberry cereal… starchy, fake.”
• “It’s like I dipped a Reese’s into my Strawberry Quik.”
Where to get them: The strawberried peanut butter M&M’s are in stores until July, just as coconut M&M’s arrive to take their place. You can find them pretty much anywhere M&M’s are sold, which is everywhere.