Earlier this year, we took a deep dive into pumpkin spice-flavored food and drinks, and now we think it’s only fair that we take an equally hard look at the holiday-flavored shit you can buy at your local grocery store. As you can probably guess, most of these foods are sweet snacks, as no one wants to buy eggnog-flavored chips or peppermint mocha-flavored soup. Or, maybe you do. We don’t know what kind of sketchy concoctions you’re making in the privacy of your own home.
So strap in as we brave the holiday waters to try some food and drink that probably didn’t need to be holiday-tized. So, in the spirit of not being close-minded Grinches, here’s our take on the things the powers that be decided needed a dollop of holiday cheer.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares Holiday Limited Edition AssortmentGhirardelli’s holiday chocolate squares come in White Chocolate Eggnog, Peppermint Bark, and Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Caramel. Most excited about? Peppermint Bark. Least excited about? It was a tie between Eggnog and Pumpkin Spice. The Peppermint Bark was, as we expected, the winner. An even, solid swirl of chocolate and peppermint with sprinkles of peppermint bits gave it a delicious, crunchy texture. Amen. As far as the White Chocolate Eggnog went, we generally find eggnog to be an overpowering taste – the spice overtaking all other flavors. Ghirardelli did a decent job of balancing out the flavors but, as usual, eggnog won out over the white chocolate. Our least favorite of the trio. The Milk Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Caramel was surprisingly not bad. Perhaps it was because we used it to follow up the eggnog square, but we think Ghirardelli was successful in evening out the flavors on this one. You could actually enjoy the milk chocolate and caramel flavors without them being clobbered by the pumpkin spiciness.
Thomas Limited Edition Cranberry English MuffinsWe were not excited to try these English muffins. Granted, we don’t mind cranberries or English muffins by themselves, per se, but together, well, we weren’t thrilled, and we were right not to be. The cranberries gave the English Muffins a citrus-y aftertaste, which was not an appreciated surprise. The cranberries also had an unwelcome crunch to them which, aside from the crunch of putting the bread in the toaster for too long. It is not a texture we were want on our English muffins. We’ll take plain ones, thank you.
Little Debbie Eggnog Cake RollsWe weren’t sure whether we were less excited to try these or the cranberry English muffins, and after some hard thought, we decided that it was these eggnog cake rolls that might be the death of us. We already hate eggnog (my editor is going to scold us for that statement), and the idea of that sickeningly sweet, egg-y goop combined with cake and frosting made our stomach churn. And you know what? They. Were. Terrible. Let’s all go ahead and put on our surprised hats. One taste tester ended up spitting it out into a trash can. Another’s face went very red from the effort of trying to swallow. Another couldn’t decided whether or not she hated it, but then promptly threw the rest of it in the trash a minute later. It’s a subtle flavor at first, but then the eggnog aftertaste hits you like a speeding train, and even fans of eggnog can’t manage to avoid gagging over this unfortunate concoction. Cake and eggnog don’t go together. Lesson learned.
Starbucks Limited Edition Peppermint MochaWhat will be worse, we asked when plucking this giant bottle of Starbucks Limited Edition Peppermint Mocha off the fridge shelf: this, or Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte? The answer? We…couldn’t decide. We didn’t like the sharp spice of the pumpkin spice latte or that it was sickly sweet. I believe my editor described the experience as, “I nearly died and went to pumpkin spice hell.” Peppermint mocha had the benefit of not being overly sugary (we think the dark mocha flavor cut down on that). HOWEVER, we all agreed it was a bit watered down. The peppermint overpowered the chocolate flavor, and another taste tester pointed out that peppermint mochas are much better hot than cold. So, perhaps instead of snagging this off a grocery store shelf, just hit the Starbucks drive thru.
Hostess Holiday CupcakesWe weren’t really sure what made these holiday cupcakes, other than that’s what the name on the box said, and the fact that they had green and red sprinkles on top of their hard frosting, but we were still game when we came across this box. In fact, we were pretty sure they would taste like a regular old Hostess cupcake – just with red and green frost. Lo and behold, we were correct in that assumption. Vanilla cake with a whipped cream middle, to be exact. Funny story, after a bad experience with the cake rolls, one of our taste testers was sourly disappointed to find that her cupcake was not cream filled. However, after we’d all been through the trauma of the eggnog Cake Rolls, we decided that these were the much better follow-up, despite not being “holiday flavored,” per se.