A candy shell around some filling. Multiple colors. And, of course, the white “m” stylized on each piece. M&M’s are a staple of convenience store shelves and Halloween baskets around the country. A long time ago, like in January 2020, you might even see a bowl of M&M’s at work on at a party. Just an uncovered bowl of M&M’s with a little plastic scoop next to it. Can you believe we used to do that? Sounds crazy now, doesn’t it?
But I digress. Since I was a young Halloweener in the 1990s, the folks over at Mars, Inc. have decided to expand M&M’s to include a whole host of new and occasionally delicious varieties. So, being the entrepreneurial competitor that I am, I decided to rank them. Nothing quite like getting a judgy look from the lady at CVS who clearly thought that it was an odd that a man pushing 32 would be buying ten bags of M&M’s. But I don’t care because I’m all about journalistic integrity.
10. Coffee Nut
Right off the bat, I have a confession to make. I didn’t think I would like these and so I went in with low expectations. Amazingly, I was…completely right. I hated these. It’s a whole peanut flavored with what tastes like Sanka instant coffee surrounded by milk chocolate and all held together in a candy shell. I’ve told people this before: I like coffee because I like the taste of coffee. I don’t think coffee needs anything else. I just want my coffee served piping hot in a mug. No cream, no sugar, and definitely no candy. I think these belong at an old folks’ home, because I can’t see anyone other than an old person who could maybe compare it to some long-extinct candy enjoying these.
Crispy M&M’s feature a candy coating around a “crisped rice center.” They taste like someone put chocolate around a few Rice Krispies. It’s not that they taste bad, because they don’t. It’s that the crispy sensation is kind of boring, and if you want a crunch with your M&M’s, you’re better off getting the pretzel ones. Again, it’s not that they taste bad, they’re just boring. They’re bland and don’t taste like anything. The flavor is something you would expect from some giant bag of knockoff candy purchased at a Dollar Tree in some part of the Midwest. I bet these would be good as an ingredient in cookies, but that’s about it.
Almond M&M’s have been around a while. My grandfather on my mom’s side used to eat them. It’s weird because they come in this assaultingly neutral bag. Like, the bag is the same shade of beige that the carpet in suburban house in the 1990s was. Or maybe if a cardboard box was left in the sun too long and began to fade. The packaging doesn’t really affect the flavor, but it’s not exactly an appetizing look, and “you eat with your eyes first,” says every judge on Chopped at some point. Then you get to the actual candy, and it’s okay but nothing special. It’s the same sensation as eating a peanut M&M, but it’s just with an almond taste. If you like almonds, you’d probably rank this higher. I can kind of take or leave almonds, so I can kind of take or leave this flavor.
7. Dark Chocolate
These would be ranked a little higher, but then I ate the mint dark chocolate flavor and realized that those were the best use of dark chocolate. Had I stopped sampling before I tried the mint ones, this would be a different list. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. These aren’t bad, and I’ve used them in cookies before (with white chocolate chips, too; delicious), but like the almond ones before, I can take them or leave them. I hope you’ll understand what I’m trying to say here, but these taste like something you’d get at an airport. Like, you walk into the newsstand to get a $7.99 bottle of water, a $3.99 copy of the Dallas Morning News, and you grab these thinking that it’s okay to try them here at Love Field because airports are weird places anyway and why not, alright? That said, they taste pretty good, if you like dark chocolate like I do.
Like many Texans, I say “karmel” instead of “care-uh-mel,” so I sincerely hope you read this whole thing as “karmel.” This was the toughest flavor to rank. On one hand, these are absolutely delicious. On the other hand, they’re only delicious for the first like four or five of them. After that, the sensation gets old. It’s the same hardy candy outside, but the inside is a soft caramel and they all just kind of feel the same after a while. Other flavors seems to have some varying texture in them. Sometimes you get M&M’s where the chocolate is a bit thicker, or the nut inside is misshapen, or something to add a little variety. These are too uniform. Delicious in small quantities, though.
5. Milk Chocolate
AKA the original M&M’s. I would rank these higher, but there would probably be a mutiny here at Cosas Totum if that happened. Look, I grew up eating these. They’re in trail mix, they’re great in cookies, they’re in the Mars, Inc. Halloween variety packs…we had them around a lot. And I still like them a lot, but they are kind of plain. Maybe these are just great utility players who can be eaten by themselves but really they’re used to improve other stuff. Cookies, Rice Krispies Treats, trail mix, puppy chow…these are all snacks that improve with the addition of regular M&M’s. Maybe they don’t have the glory on their own, but you have to love a team player.
4. Mint Dark Chocolate
Time for another confession: I did not expect to like these. Aside from Junior Mints and the occasional mint-chocolate after-dinner candy at Olive Garden, I’m not a huge fan of the mint and chocolate marriage. I don’t like mint chocolate chip ice cream, I don’t really like York Peppermint Patties, etc. You get the idea. But these were great. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s dark chocolate and can temper the minty-ness a bit? I dunno. But what I do know is that these are awesome. I didn’t even know they existed before I bought them. Very good.
They really should get rid of the crispy ones. If people want crispy, this is where they should come. I also like the sweet/savory balance, too, but I know that’s not for everyone. But the chocolate, the crunch, the bit of salt…yummmmmmm. These are dangerous. When I was sampling all of these, I tried not to eat the whole bag every time. Only twice did I fail, and that was these and the peanut butter ones, which you can see below I ranked very high. Absolutely delicious. The one thing that keeps them from being higher is the fact that I just prefer the taste of peanuts to the taste of pretzels.
Fun fact: My dad used to get one of those big five-pound bags of these every Christmas, and I’m pretty sure none of them every survived to December 27. We had a lot of peanut M&M’s around when I was younger, and I love them. The crunch is great, the saltiness from the peanut is great, and chocolate is great…nothing bad to say about these. These are dangerously easy to eat. And peanuts and chocolate is such a classic pairing. But you know what’s an even more classic, more American pairing?
1. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter and chocolate. Some of my love of these stems from my general love of peanut butter. I love Reese’s, I love peanut butter cookies, I love peanut butter sandwiches…I’ve even had a cheeseburger that had peanut butter on it, and I loved it. (Quick shoutout to Cricket’s Draft House + Grill in Lubbock, Texas for the peanut butter burger). But part of my love of peanut butter M&Ms is how American they are. I’ve been to Europe a few times, and because I’m talkative I will end up talking worldly customs with some local at a bar. I’ve done it in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Ireland, and Switzerland. You know what I’ve learned? Most Europeans do not like peanut butter. They love soccer and not paying their fair share in the United Nations, but they hate peanut butter. Peanut butter M&M’s are perfect, end of story.