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Taste test: fall-flavored Peeps, M&M's and other candy

Add candymakers to the list of food manufacturers trying to lure us into the fall season with familiar flavors like apple, caramel and pumpkin. This week, in the spirit of Halloween, we sampled four favorite brands of candy with an autumnal twist. Some of the goodies will find their way into the bags of trick-or-treaters this weekend and baked into the cookies we'll be bringing to the neighborhood potluck.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductCaramel Apple Twizzlers Caramel Apple Peeps White Chocolate

Candy Corn M&M's
Nestle Toll House Pumpkin Spice Chips With Cinnamon

These rope candies smelled like green apples but tasted more like caramel. Judges liked that they were individually wrapped, saying they would make perfect treats for costumed visitors on Halloween night. Each piece was stuffed with a caramel-textured filling that some judges said tasted more like peanut butter. One said he liked the candy but couldn't get past an "artificial" aftertaste. Another rejected the treat completely, saying, "They took a perfectly good green Twizzler, gave it a vague green apple taste and stuffed caramel inside it. Heaven? No!"Candy lovers on our panel have distinct opinions about Peeps, the little marshmallow molded chicks that used to be sold at Easter and now are coated in flavored sugars for every holiday from Halloween to Valentine's Day. The caramel apple flavor of this seasonal version didn't change any minds. Those who like the spongy candy were pleased with the slight tartness of the apple flavor, saying it countered the sugar rush a bit. "It's got a lovely aftertaste to balance the sweetness," said one. The Peep haters said they couldn't detect apple or caramel flavors. "Free the Peeps!" said one.Our panelists liked the brightness of the Candy Corn M&M's, describing them as "happy colored." They had a rich white chocolate flavor and a slight citrus taste. Overall, judges said they like candy corn and they enjoyed this treat. One taster liked the larger size of the candy corn M&M's. "These biggy-style M&M's are swell," said the panelist. "The orange ones remind me of the African flag." Another judge said he would use them as decorations on other holiday treats, like cookies or cupcakes, but he preferred traditional candy corn to this version. Ideas for baking with these chips were plentiful among our judges. "They actually have real pumpkin spice to them," said one panelist. "I am sure they would be good in a spice cake with cream cheese frosting." Another liked the deep butterscotch color and the dominant cinnamon flavor. "These would be a yummy surprise in a pumpkin bread or added to snickerdoodles," the taster said. Another judge called these "a great idea," saying, "These would be great to use on cupcakes or on top of a pumpkin crumble."

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.99 for a 10.29-ounce bag from Target.$1.99 for an 8-ounce bag from Target.$1.69 for an 8-ounce bag from CVS.$3.69 for a 10-ounce bag from CVS.

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director Studio@620; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; and Mary Jane Park, Times staff writer.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeThree piecesThree chicksOne-fourth cupOne tablespoon
Fat/Fiber2g / 0g3g / 0g11g / 0g4g / 10g
Sugars/Sodium21g / 60mg30g / 65mg28g / 40mg7g / 40mg
Carbs/Protein33g / 0g32g / 1g29g / 2g9g / 0g

Taste test: fall-flavored Peeps, M&M's and other candy 10/26/15 [Last modified: Monday, October 26, 2015 10:11am]
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